WARSAW — It’s easy to accuse Winona Lake’s Dan Miller of letting the grass grow beneath his feet. That is, as long as that grass is on one of the soccer pitches in Warsaw.
Currently the vice-president and director of coaching for the Warsaw Wave travel program, Miller has been a fixture on the area soccer scene for more than two decades. Miller once displayed his prowess at Lakeland Christian Academy, from which he graduated in 1996, and then at Grace College, where he was a four-year letter winner.
His love of the game has continued long after his playing days ended. He has dedicated much of his time since to pass along his passion and knowledge to the next generation of hopefuls. Miller has been involved with Warsaw Wave soccer since his sophomore year at Grace, dating back 20 years. He has coached numerous teams, with players in elementary school through high school. He also served as the head coach of the Warsaw Community High School girls team for five years, stepping down in 2012, and recently was tabbed to lead the LCA boys team next fall.
Having served on the Wave board for the last eight years, Miller now is serving his second term as the director of coaching. The program features both boys and girls teams for kids as young as 8 through high school age. In his position, Miller is responsible for overseeing all of the program’s coaches, including making sure they are following the club’s overall coaching philosophy and mission.
“I help with player development, coaching development and practice plans for all of our teams,” Miller said. “I give ideas to the coaches and often run training sessions.”
Miller also attends many games and deals with various parental issues. He serves as a liaison between the coaches and the board of directors on various issues, as well as working with coaches and parents on things such as team placement and issues related to program participation.
“The mission of the Wave program is to build a technically competent player,” he said. “We want to see our players grow in the game.”
Eight years ago, Miller earned his national coaching certification from the National Soccer Association of America by attending an intensive week-long program in Illinois. He noted many of the Wave soccer coaches also have coaching certifications and/or are former college soccer players.
Miller estimated he puts between five and 10 hours in each week, year-round, into his role with the Wave. He does this on top of his full-time job as a social studies teacher at LCA. This is his first year teaching at his alma mater, having previously taught at Lakeview Middle School and WCHS.
His wife, Lindsey, also is involved with the Wave, serving as the club’s administrator. Also a Grace graduate, Lindsey did not grow up with the same soccer background as her husband, but has developed a love for the game through osmosis. Dan said she brings a great deal of business acumen to the program as a result of her previous professional experience in the orthopedic industry. Together they have three children, Zaiden, 8, Brody, 6, and Mariah, 3. Zaiden is a player on the 10U Wave team, which, not surprisingly, is coached by his dad.
“My goal with the program is to help inspire our community in the area of soccer,” Miller concluded. “I love teaching the game, I love being around the game and I love teaching kids how to play the right way.”