Former successful Cruiser coach Bob Miller passes away

By Rick Palsgrove, Groveport Editor

Bob Miller in the classroom in the early 1970s at Groveport Madison High School. (Photos courtesy of the Groveport Heritage Museum.)

A true Cruiser has passed away.

Former Groveport Madison High School and Thomas Worthington High School boys basketball coach Bob Miller died on Oct. 26 at age 82.

Miller amassed 573 career wins in 41 years as a head basketball coach. At Groveport Madison his coaching record was 150-54 with five Ohio Capital Conference titles from 1973-83. He was 423-269 at Thomas  Worthington with seven Ohio Capital Conference titles three district titles. He is a member of the Cruiser Athletic Hall of Fame, the Ohio Capital Conference Hall of Fame, and the Ohio High School Basketball Association Hall of Fame. He was league coach of the year 11 times, district coach of the year four times, and state coach of the year in 2002-03. He retired in 2014.

Miller first came to Groveport Madison in 1965 after graduating from The Ohio State University with a degree in education. His coaching experiences at Groveport Madison included baseball, basketball, football, and golf. For the 1973-74 season Miller was named head boys varsity basketball coach and over the next 10 years his Cruiser teams compiled one of the most successful basketball coaching reigns in Groveport Madison history.

Pictured here is Bob Miller coaching his 1975-76 Groveport Madison Cruiser basketball team during a timeout.

Miller’s first Cruiser boys basketball team in 1973-74 finished second in the old Mid-Eight League, the school’s best finish since 1968-69. Following the demise of the Mid-Eight League the following year, the Cruisers joined the Ohio Capital Conference where Miller’s Cruiser teams dominated the hardwood for the next several seasons winning OCC titles in 1975, 1976, 1979, 1980, and 1982. The 1975 title was the first championship for Cruisers boys basketball since the 1964 squad won the Mid-Eight. Miller’s 1975 and 1976 teams won a combined 34 out of 39 games.

Miller and his family eventually moved to Worthington where he became the varsity basketball coach at Thomas Worthington High School in 1983 and that is where he finished his successful career in 2014.

Groveport City Councilman Scott Lockett played both Cruiser football and basketball for Miller in the early 1970s.

“I was fortunate to have Bob as my coach in football and basketball,” said Lockett. “He was a coach who was a perfectionist. If you didn’t do it right, you would do it again, and again until you’ve got it right. He was always greatly supportive of his players. Because you knew he was behind you wanted to play well for him. He created a feeling of family with his basketball program by inviting grads back to play with current players during open gyms and in the alumni game he established. He had countless expressions. I can still hear telling me I was slower than his grandma. A lot of my warm high school memories involve Bob Miller. He was a great coach and a better friend. His smile made you feel you were back in high school again.”

I was a player on Miller’s 1973-74 Cruiser basketball team as well as his 1971-72 junior varsity team. He was the best coach I ever had. He was a great person and leader. He wanted every player on his teams to succeed both on and off the court. He paid attention to, and encouraged, his players to master the details – both big and small – because he knew that effort would make us better players and, more importantly, better people.

Thank you Coach Miller for caring enough to get in our faces when we did something wrong, for sincerely praising us when that praise was earned, for your teaching, your leadership, your encouragement, and for instilling the fun of basketball and other sports in us. We will remember you.

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