HANOVERTON-United girls track coach Nancy Miller has never coveted material rewards, but they are starting to find her.
Miller was named the 2013 National Federation of State High School Associations Mideast Sectional Coach of the Year in January.
It is the second straight year that the veteran coach has received a major postseason honor. Last season she was named the career coach of the year by the Ohio Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches.
"It's all been very surreal," Miller said. "There are so many good coaches out there who put in a lot of time and effort and for them to have chosen me from little United High School is unbelievable. I've been very blessed."
The Mideast section includes Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. To be nominated as Sectional Coach of the year, one must have already been a state coach of the year. After Miller won the OATCC award last year her name was passed along for consideration. She was also eligible for the NFHS National Coach of the Year.
"No way I expected to win," Miller said. "When I saw the letter in my mailbox I was floored."
Coaching girls track has been a labor of love that Miller has been at for 28 years, with the first 10 coming at Salem. Her teams have enjoyed great success, capturing a combined 18 conference championships and seven district championships. However, winning-and the adulation that follows-has never been the driving force for Miller.
"Winning has just been a nice byproduct of everything else," Miller said. "What I enjoy most about coaching is working with the kids day after day and watching them achieve their potential. There is nothing better than watching a kid work hard for a long time and achieve a personal best."
Miller entered coaching because she was looking for something to do outside of teaching. She never dreamed where it would lead.
"I really didn't know a lot about coaching when I started," Miller said. "I read a lot of books and watched a lot of videos. I really have any coaching influences. I just tried to draw on the experiences of my parents and other responsible adults I knew. I tried to pattern myself after them."
Success didn't happen overnight. Much trial and error was involved before Miller honed her coaching style. Early in her career, Miller frequently solicited the opinions of her athletes to figure out what worked and what didn't.
"One thing I realized right away was that these are high school kids and they usually have other sports or extra-curricular activities they are involved in," she said. "I made it a point to support them in their other endeavors as much as I could."
The building of relationships continues to drive Miller as she enters the twilight of her career.
"Some of the early season meets seem a little colder and longer than they used to, but I still love interacting with the kids as much as when I started," Miller said. "I'll know when the right time comes along to retire. When it does, my athletes will be the first to know."