Our faculty are dedicated to our students! Many of them don't only teach - they also coach or advise clubs as well.
To celebrate our coaches who also teach or are staff at CDH, we're sharing a Q&A with each of them over the next few months! Today, meet Joe Miley '11, Football Coach and Learning Specialist.
Did you participate in the sport you coach as a student-athlete?
Yes, I played football at CDH from 2007-2010.
What made you decide to coach?
I had a great experience playing sports at CDH and have always liked being part of a team. I learned so much from my coaches growing up and felt that coaching could be an opportunity for me to give back while being part of something I enjoy. I remember when I was a freshman in college and Jim O’Neill asked me to help with a 9th-grade baseball team. That experience eventually led me to become a manager of the baseball team at Saint Mary’s University in Winona. Knowing that I wanted to continue coaching, I tried to soak up everything I could from the coaching staff. After the college season, I would coach CDH teams and camps during the summers. Once I graduated, I started coaching basketball and football, too.
How long have you been coaching here at CDH?
I have been coaching football for 6 years. I also coached baseball for 7 years, basketball for 2, and softball for 1.
What do you love about coaching?
I love being part of a team and working with others toward a shared goal. I love when athletes and coaches are able to set aside personal desires and take on whatever role they need to for the betterment of the team. I love watching young people become leaders, serving their teammates and helping them improve.
I also really like coaching with friends. I have made some lifelong friends through coaching – there is always something interesting going on to talk about.
How does your experience as a coach improve your teaching?
Coaching helps me feel more connected to the students, and I think they might feel more connected to me, too. We get to see a different side of each other and experience some good times and also some adversity together. From my experience, when I know my students on a more personal level or they know me a little better, it leads to breakthroughs. I’m sure there is a higher level of trust and listening that takes place because of the relationship.
How does your experience as a teacher improve your coaching?
I think at its core, coaching is teaching. Working with students in one-on-one and small group settings in the Learning Lab really helps me in instructing skills and explaining concepts to athletes, especially if they may be struggling with it. I also think it helps me with patience and understanding that some student-athletes may need a different approach, further instruction, or more time to develop or learn. Being in the school building with the student-athletes also gives me an idea of what their day might have been like and what they might need in practice – it is helpful to remember that the time spent on the field/court might be the best part of their day.
Do you have any favorite memories from your time coaching?
- The summer after my freshman year of college, I was an assistant coach for the Hamline Purple legion team. My brother, who is a year younger than me, and a number of our friends were on the team. I was young and had a lot to learn, but it was always pretty fun when the head coach, Tony Cicalello, would need to miss a game, leaving me in charge. The players were very helpful to me, and we worked things out together. One particular game, my brother, Kevin, was up and hit a deep fly ball in the right-centerfield gap. The center fielder dove for it and missed, allowing the ball to roll to the fence. As Kevin rounded 2nd base and was headed to 3rd, I thought he might have a chance at an inside-the-park home run. I waved him home as the ball was relayed to the 2nd baseman in shallow right field. He proceeded to throw a bullet to the catcher while Kevin was still 30 feet or so from home plate. I remember getting a lot of grief from waving him home. Like I said, I had a lot to learn.
- Many people who follow CDH baseball will remember Wes. He was a CDH baseball superfan. Wes had some apparent intellectual disabilities but was loved by the student-athletes, coaches, and families. Listening to former baseball players speak about him after he passed away was moving. He always made it to the game, whether he got a ride or took the bus. I have vivid memories of him hobbling down Randolph heading to the game after getting off the bus. Wes was so loyal to CDH baseball and the players that I don’t think he could have said anything negative about the program or anyone that was part of it. He always made the athletes feel better and put things into perspective after having a rough game. When I was coaching the legion team, we would meet at CDH before road games and carpool to the games. Wes would normally ride with a coach or parent, so I experienced many car rides with him. He spoke often about his dream of being a coach. Those that knew Wes know that this wasn’t realistic, but I just listened and let him talk. One game, our head coach was not able to make it. We were playing at the old Midway stadium. I was about to head out to coach 3rd base in the first inning when I realized we needed a 1st base coach. Normally I would send a player over there, but I thought I would let Wes do it that day. I remember his excitement as he hustled over to first base – he acted quite serious during the remainder of the game. We ended up losing the game, and I could tell he was disappointed while we were driving home. When I pulled over to drop him off, he opened the door, but before getting out, he looked at me with some tears in his eyes and said, “thanks for letting me coach 1st base.” I will never forget that moment.
- My second year coaching football, I was coaching the 9th graders. We had a fun group of coaches, and a good class of 9th graders. As our season was winding down, we scheduled a final game with our Lasallian rival, Totino-Grace. They also had an impressive group of 9th graders that year. While it was “only” a 9th-grade game, for whatever reason, it had a “big game” feel to it. The stands at Wingerd Field were filled. Parents lined the fencing along the border of the field to watch their kids. The game went back and forth, but we ended up winning as Totino tried to kick a last-second field goal but missed. The kids were so happy, celebrating a victory in their last 9th-grade game. The team had a tradition of playing “Country Roads” by John Denver in the locker room after a win. One of our coaches beat them to it and played it on the speaker as they celebrated with each other on the field.
- Another fun memory came when I was coaching 9th-grade football, and we were on our way to a game at Stillwater High School. My good friend, Tom Johnson, and I were riding the bus with the team. We were on 94 when our bus driver, Izzy, realized that something was wrong with the bus. I don’t know anything about cars, so I won’t act like I know what the problem was, but the bus wasn’t able to go any faster than about 30 mph. Izzy took the next exit and pulled over. He was determined to fix the issue quickly and get us to Stillwater in time for the game. He thought he knew what the problem was, but since he wasn’t able to get under the hood of the bus, he sent Tom and I up to take a look. He gave us some direction, and after about 15-20 minutes, we were back on the bus ready to go. I couldn’t believe we fixed it – I definitely thought we were going to need to take a different bus. Izzy got us to the game and we were on the field with about 5 minutes to spare. I think the hiccup on the trip out there gave the kids some energy because after a quick warm-up, they took the field and played great!
- When I coached 9th-grade football, I organized a team retreat with Br. Pat Conway and my dad (CDH President Frank Miley) each year. We always did a “depth unfolding exercise” with the student-athletes and asked them to speak to a group of their teammates about things such as their hobbies, interests, goals/dreams while they are at CDH, and their relationships with family members and God. The stories the kids shared always amazed me. I learned things I don’t think I ever would have known otherwise. I think the kids appreciated the experience, and I always felt the retreat brought the team closer.
Read about previously featured coaches:
Amy Bellus '90
Jesse Cusick '98
Bob Kinne '11
Jerry Kline '93
Chuck Miesbauer '03