For some two decades, James Miller was as steady as they come as a coach and contributor to Pontiac Northern High School athletics.
Miller, a U.S. Army veteran, died suddenly May 1. He was 64.
Former Pontiac Northern head wrestling coach Jon Brown recalls when Miller arrived at the school, fresh from being discharged from military service.
“Jimmy walked into the wrestling room in 1973, an Army duffel bag over his shoulder and asked who was the wrestling coach here,” Brown recalled. “He said my name is Jim and would you mind if I just work out with you guys.”
Brown said he took him downstairs, gave him a locker and for the next 20 years they were together.
Brown said it worked well because Miller, who wrestled for the late Bill Willson, had experience, and Brown, in only his second year as head coach, had no previous wrestling experience.
“I didn’t know anything about wrestling and having Jimmy come on board was a blessing because he had some experience,” Brown said. “He stayed on and we became best buddies, best pals. He never missed a meet, never missed a practice.”
Together, they helped win many district and league titles, and develop young wrestlers, including current Pontiac High head wrestling coach Adam Polk.
Brown said when some wrestlers didn’t have a ride home, Miller would drop a few home on one side of town and Brown would drop wrestlers off on another side of town.
“Sometimes we wouldn’t get home from a tournament until 1 or 1:30 in the morning,” Brown said. Just a wonderful, wonderful person. I’m going to miss him dearly.”
Both were among a group of former wrestlers from Pontiac Central and Northern High Schools who gathered at Pontiac High last November for a reunion celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Pontiac Northern state championship wrestling team of 1967. One of the attendees, former Rochester wrestling coach Frank…