By: Lexi Kantz
Sometimes fate plays a large role in where a coach ends up.
For Goshen College head women’s basketball coach Stephanie Miller, that’s exactly how she landed in her current position.
Coming from Michigan school systems with 13 years of coaching experience under her belt, Miller grabbed the reins and pulled hard when she took over the Maple Leafs. At a crossroads in her teaching career at the time, fellow McCracken director and former GC men’s basketball Coach Gary Chupp informed Miller of an opening for a coaching position at the collegiate level.
“I got on some sites and started thinking that there were a couple jobs open in the smaller school areas, and maybe I’ll try this,” said Miller. “I hadn’t even put two resumes in when Gary Chupp called me.”
Chupp and Miller go way back, as they have both been coaching at McCracken Basketball Camps in the summers since Miller was 18. Meanwhile, their friendship has grown as they are now both directors at the McCracken camps.
Because of this friendship, Chupp quickly recommended Miller for the job. The Goshen College opening couldn’t have come at a better time for Miller, as she was ready for a change and so was Goshen College. She made the trip from Michigan to Goshen to meet to with Tim Demant and couple of the players on the women’s team at the time.
“That first year I came in, my expectation was that I would have to clean up a lot. It hadn’t been a very competitive program in the previous years and that was part of the reason that I chose to come to Goshen. If I was going to do it I was going to build the program from the ground up, my way,” said Miller.
Wanting a challenge and needing a change, Miller took her role as head coach seriously. Picking a team up with 11 guards and two forwards created frustrations, but Miller took them under her wing and helped them all to buy into her new system.
“I work a lot with team bonding and helping to try to develop chemistry. It doesn’t always work the way you want because some parts of team chemistry, you just can’t control. But I’m a firm believer that there are some [players] that you can help cultivate by opportunities that you create off the court,” Miller said.
Fast forwarding to the current season, Miller’s third at Goshen, she is refreshed to have seven new faces on her roster and six returners to make up a “new” and “refreshing” team.
“I have a lot of winners in this group, girls that came from winning programs,” said Miller. “I have 13 on my roster and 11 of them came from winning programs. This season alone I have four conference champions, two regional champions, and a state finalist. They come from a good pedigree which will give us some competitive fire.”
As the Maple Leafs head into the 2013-14 season hoping to use their youth to their advantage, they do have a lot of ground to cover after their bottom-of-the-barrel finish in last season’s conference standings. Miller however is confident that this beast of burden is not on the shoulders of her team because of their “newness.”
Miller added, “Coming into the program, I felt I had to lay the foundation of what it is to be a winner, regardless of if you are winning. You can prepare like a winner. You can train like a winner. You can hold yourself accountable like a winner. You can treat others well. You can have good chemistry and just be doing all of the things that winners do. Eventually all of those tendencies build a successful program.”
This article first appeared in the Goshen News on November 8.