By Gabriel Stovall
McDONOUGH, Ga. — After what he called eight “fulfilling” years as a boys basketball coach and athletic director at Ola High School, Curt Miller is moving on.
Thank you OLA Nation for the past 8 yrs! I accepted a new position with Henry Co. Schools. Great school, people and community! #THANKYOU
— Curt Miller (@Curt_Miller30) July 8, 2015
Miller’s new position will give him the opportunity to serve the entirety of the Henry County Schools’ Health and Physical Education Department. He’ll have the chance to be sort of a roving support agent across the county’s public schools, and though he said he will deeply miss his Ola family, he is ready for the new challenge.
“It was tough, but it was time,” Miller said. “The one thing I got at Ola, I was given a situation where Mr. Ralph Iddings, the principal at the time, hired me at age 29, and I learned so much from that first year and every day after. Ola definitely taught me how to be a leader.”
Over his tenure as AD, Miller said he’s seen approximately 115 student-athletes sign college scholarships, including a school-record 25 signings this past school year. The last three years have been particularly sweet for Mustang athletics, as the school has seen an individual state wrestling champion (Jimmy Carman), a state wrestling runner-up in Anthony Thomas, and team championships in cheerleading and softball.
In addition, former football standout Tre McBride and 2015 graduate pitcher Jaret Hellinger became the first two Ola athletes to be selected in their sports’ respective drafts — McBridge was drafted to the NFL’s Tennessee Titans, and Jaret Hellinger was taken late in the 2015 Major League Baseball draft by the Atlanta Braves organization.
And although these things came under his watch, Miller won’t even begin to take full credit for it.
“I saw a school grow and an athletic department grow so much,” he said. “The things I was able to see — coaches, teams and kids accomplish — it was just awesome, but it’s not like I was directly in charge of everything. I think of one year when we won 13 region championships and I look back on that and am like, ‘Man, there’s no way. That’s almost unheard of.’ The funny thing is everyone’s congratulating me, but I really had nothing to do with it.”
One of his brightest memories at the school can probably allow him to take a little more of the credit.
“Definitely us going to state in basketball back in 2010 while I was coaching the team is probably my best memory,” Miller said. “We went to the state tournament in basketball back when people thought Ola didn’t even have basketball. That was definitely big for us.”
It is that kind of camaraderie he build over the years with the students he coached and came in contact with that will be what Miller will miss the most.
“The hard part for me is the interaction with the kids,” he said. “In my new position I’ll still have a chance to interact with kids, but I’m talking about that direct interaction that comes with coaching and all that.”
Miller believes he’ll be leaving the program in good hands, though, with the appointment of longtime Ola softball coach Gidget Gue as his replacement. Gue, the coach who guided the Lady Mustangs to a Class AAAAA softball crown in 2013, has all the characteristics needed to continue driving the high expectations developed in Ola Athletics, Miller said.
“She’s very solid. Very detail oriented,” Miller said. “Those are the things you’ve got to be in order to be good in this position.”
Anyone who knows Miller knows he comes from great coaching and athletic administration stock. His father Chuck Miller is one of just three people in Georgia High School athletics to have been inducted into both the state’s hall of fame for coaches and athletic directors.
Miller said he’s grateful for the lessons learned from being around his dad, as well as his mother, wife and the staff that surrounded him at Ola. He says they’re the ones that deserve the brunt of accolades for anything he accomplished.
“You’re only good as the people that are around you,” he said. “Ola has quality staff and coaches and people all throughout the school, and I couldn’t have been able to do what I can do without my family’s support.”
Miller admitted that being relieved of many of the after school duties and extended responsibilities of being in an administrative position in one school building will be refreshing. But he’s not ready to rule out a return to his first love of coaching.
“I’m excited about this opportunity, definitely, but I can’t promise I won’t come back to the athletic side of things one day,” he said. “But this is a great chance for me to use my degree. I set a goal for myself to be an athletic director and to have my doctorate degree by the time I was 30. This opportunity gives me a chance to utilize my degree. It’s exciting, and we’ll just see how this goes and what it could lead me to from here.”