Ken Miller will close out his final season as the YMCA’s Coal City Youth Basketball League (YBL) Coordinator this Saturday, bringing an end to an incredibly successful five-year run with the Morris Community YMCA.
Ken joined the Y staff prior to the start of the 2014-15 YBL season after 33 years in education. He served as an administrator in Coal City Unit School District 1 for more than a decade, coached high school football for 14 years (winning a state title in 1993), and also helped coach basketball. Ken said one of the most rewarding aspects of the last five years has been overseeing the program’s continued growth in Coal City.
“The biggest thing is that interest has spread throughout our community. We had over 180 kids participate last year, which was the highest number we’ve ever had,” Miller said. “I have been fortunate to watch the first graders from the first year go all the way through the program.”
Miller’s leadership of the Y’s Coal City youth basketball league has helped to expand the organization’s footprint throughout the community. One of the Y’s most highly visible youth development programs, YBL teaches young athletes the importance of teamwork and sportsmanship while supporting their development in the game of basketball.
“Our primary goal is to make basketball fun for everyone. There are always going to be different skill levels, but one thing you can always do is have fun. Whether at practice or in games, we try to make sure it’s a great experience for all the kids involved,” Miller said.
Miller said he has been proud to work alongside dedicated Y staff members.
“It’s been a team effort. I’ve had total support from everyone at the Y. Any time I’ve ever had a question or concern, everyone has been helpful in making sure our needs in Coal City were met. We all work together, much like a coaching staff would,” he said.
Ken also said he still gets excited when he watches players make their first basket and that inspiring kids is what makes the Y experience so special.
“At the end of the year, I give each of our participants a basketball. One time, we had a third grader who couldn’t be there on the last day to receive the ball. I said ‘Don’t worry, we’ll get it to you the week before’. When he got it he was just thrilled, started crying and gave me a big hug. He had never had a basketball of his own,” Ken said. “Those are the types of things that have made it really neat and the memories I’ll take with me forever.”
The Y is also thankful for everything Ken has brought to YBL.
“As we looked to expand our reach in Grundy County with the YBL program we knew there was one perfect man for the job and that was Ken Miller,” Executive Director Missy Durkin said. “Ken has been an exceptional coach and mentor for young athletes. We are grateful for his dedicated service and leadership and he will be greatly missed around the courts.”
If you would like to help celebrate Ken’s last YBL weekend, feel free to stop by Coal City Intermediate School this Saturday. Games begin at 9 a.m. and will continue throughout the afternoon.