The student news site of Stillwater Area High School

The Pony Express

The student news site of Stillwater Area High School

The Pony Express

The student news site of Stillwater Area High School

The Pony Express

Miller steps up to head coach after 10 years

Photo by Madi Ruchie
The boys cross country team start their practice by going on a run together. The team starts the run as a team, and finished as a team. This way the boys are able to feel connected to each other while they run and offer encouragement to people that struggle. This brings them closer together as a team while still training them for state.

So much wisdom and so many happy memories whisked away in that car with Scott Christensen, retiring after so many years of coaching that some of these kids’ parents knew him. Everybody waved goodbye for the last time, watching him peel away from the high school parking lot. Now, rising up to fill Christensen’s old role, Ryan Miller has some major shoes to step into this year, being the new head coach of the boys cross country team. 

2017 was the last time the team was in the top five during the state championship, ranking so on more than one occasion in previous years. Miller and his team have their eyes set on cementing their legacy in the top five spots this year and for years to come. 

Miller said the team was stuck in seventh the last few years, usually the race ends up unfolding differently from their original plan or some illness ends up affecting the team. 

This year, with sickness spreading around the school like the plague, the majority of the team fell ill. Practices had to go on with maybe half the team attending. This lessened the effects of the training, leaving the sick people to fall behind on their running times, making them feel poorly not just physically but mentally too.

Junior Andrew Walsh explained the team makes sure to not put anybody down for being sick or injured, that the team helps people through it.

Miller’s philosophy for this type of connected team, stems from his own experiences in cross country. Miller has loved the sport for the majority of his life, running here at the high school when he attended, running for St. Joseph’s University and coming back here to coach for 10 years as assistant under Christensen. After assisting for so many years, Miller is ready to implement his own methods into the team, but not necessarily change the game.

Walsh said most of the team traditions at practice are the same; training and routine wise and that the team attends the same overnight meets, “Miller’s keeping those on the schedule.”

Miller makes sure to go to lengths filing all the paperwork necessary to make sure the team attends the same meets, travels and is able to stay at overnight meets, making sure to keep the traditions the same, but is still able to coach his own way.

The highs are higher and the lows are lower in a lot of ways because you’re more emotionally and really physically invested in, in the time that goes into coaching.

— Ryan Miller

“The highs are higher and the lows are lower in a lot of ways because you’re more emotionally and really physically invested in, in the time that goes into coaching,” Miller explained.

One of Miller’s main principles is to connect with everybody on the team. Between the team’s practices everyday after school and the summer training program makes the team spend a lot of time together forming a community.  

Miller said if a new person that comes out to cross country, “I’m just trying to make sure that I’m able to interact with that person as much as possible and kind of get to know their story.”

Also, Miller makes sure to not spend all of his energy coaching on the varsity team alone. He loves helping the developing runners grow and being able to step back and see the community the boys made amongst themselves. 

“I’ve been being pushed by some new freshmen that are on the team that are really good, which has really helped me improve,” sophomore Kingston Windschitl explained.

In all, the team is really excited for this season’s potential, Miller said, “[I’m] just looking forward to seeing how the season unfolds. That’s the beauty of sports. You never know what’s going to unfold.” 

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