By Josh Beavers
Mark Miller, a noted author and recipient of numerous football accolades, is joining the Minden High staff to help lead the Tide on Friday nights.
The Journal posed some basic get-to-know-you questions for the new coach and history teacher.
1. What motivated you to become a high school coach? Can you share a little about your background and previous coaching experience?
My dad was a career Army Officer and we moved a lot. My average stay in one place growing up was about 18 – Months. Sports was always a way for me to get in and make friends. By the time I was in junior high, football had become my passion. The high school teams I played on made deep playoff runs. My junior year we made it to the state championship game. We lost but it was an experience of a lifetime. My dad and his best friend had played on Minden’s 1956 State Championship team. I walked on the LSU football team earning a letter as a senior. I looked at coaching football as a way to stay involved and give back to the game that had such a positive impact on me.
At that time, colleges were allotted only 2 Graduate Assistant Coaches per staff equating to 234 positions in the country. Having been a walk on at LSU afforded me the opportunity to become a Graduate Assistant Coach there. I spent 4 years learning from and coaching with mentors who had coached in the NFL, USFL and won national championships. It was a truly amazing and blessed experience.
Coaching and teaching are callings to serve. As a calling, I believe God puts people in the best positions to maximize his gifts for that service. After 3 years coaching at University of Louisiana at Lafayette, I landed in Texas high school 6As & 5As for the last 20 years. Over my 28 year career, I’ve coached at 2 universities and Minden will be my 7th high school. I’ve coached offense, defense and special teams. Having been a defensive coordinator for 15 years as well as a special teams coordinator for 2, I have a holistic perspective of the game. My career has been blessed with collegiate bowl championships, district championships and playoff runs to every round except the a state championship game. I’ve also been fortunate to have worked with great athletes with 31 earning ‘All – District’ status and 17 going on to the NFL. In 2011 – 2012, I was Katy Independent School District’s Boys Assistant Coach of the Year.
2. What is your coaching philosophy, and how do you plan to implement it with this team?
Coaching and athletics are tools for teaching life lessons. Life lessons like the power of Attitude & Effort, Humility, Characterand Team. I try and approach coaching and get the kids to buy into the mind set of work to get better every day. Be better today than yesterday.
With my experience as an ‘Army Brat’ and all the places I’ve coached, I understand part of my role will be to fit in with the traditions here at Minden while supporting no Coach Heard’s vision and how he wants things done. It is an honor and a bit nostalgic for me to be here. Both my parents graduated from Minden HS as well as all of their brothers and sisters.
3. What are your primary goals for the team this season? Are there any specific areas or skills you plan to focus on developing?
Defensively, fundamentals are alignment, assignment, adjustments, pursuit and tackling. Specifics get into Eye Control. Eye control means key progression and discipline. Finally the technique of understanding how to leverage the ball whether it be a run or a pass.
4. How do you plan to build a strong team culture and foster a sense of camaraderie among the athletes?
Culture is about defining a belief system and values while working to make that belief and value system a physical reality. There are signs up in places in our football facility that say 1-BEAT. BEAT is an acronym for Brotherhood, Effort, Attitude and Tough. The kids see it every day and recite its phrases in every breakdown.
The belief and value system is here. Camaraderie comes in sharing time and experience together Our coaches and players have been coming to work together all summer for workouts, practices and 7 – on – 7.
5. How do you plan to balance academics and athletics for the student-athletes under your guidance?
Student is listed first in the phrase Student – Athlete. I openly talk to my players about grades and their behavior. As & Bs open doors for them while Cs will close them. Below a C, don’t even bother knocking. With them, I get into the details of the actual monetary value of each level of education. I also explain solid ways behavior and work lead to academic achievement while understanding the fastest ways to fail.
6. How do you handle the pressure of coaching and the expectations that come with it?
I try to exercise and attend church regularly. Pressure is privilege. High expectations means it is important and those are good things.
7. How do you plan to measure success for the team beyond wins and losses?
I always look at defining the difference between success and achievement. Success is something that is bestowed upon you while achievement is personally defined through individual goal setting.
I can look at their mind set from their behavior to see if they are maximizing who they are as people and players. Within those actions, how supportive of one another were they.