If you’ve been involved with Tyrone sports in the last 50 years (or maybe more), you’ve probably received coaching instruction from Coach Tom Miller. And if you haven’t received any coaching from him, he’s probably made an impact on your career, whether you knew it or not.

Although I didn’t grow up in Tyrone, Coach Miller left his mark on me, as well. When Tyrone football and basketball assistant coach Murray Fetzer was hired to be the head football coach at my alma mater at Moshannon Valley, Miller was brought on to be the defensive coordinator at the school in Houtzdale.

It was my senior year in the fall of 2006 that Fetzer, Miller, and twins Patrick and Mike McNelis came from Tyrone to coach us at Mo Valley.

It was with great sadness that I learned on Thursday night of Coach Miller’s passing. He was 78 years old, and leaves behind numerous relatives. His obituary can be found in today’s Daily Herald on page 3.

From what I’ve heard, Miller coached a little bit of everything throughout his life. The guy genuinely cared about helping kids.

Ever since my playing days at Mo Valley, Coach Miller took interest in how I was doing after I graduated high school. He was probably more interested in me personally than how good of a player I was. But that’s just who he was.

When I was first new at The Daily Herald, Coach Miller stopped in the office. I can’t remember if he was renewing his subscription or buying a paper, or something else. He saw me and immediately remembered who I was, even though about 10 years had passed since I had played for him.

We talked for a while, remembered some good times we had with Mo Valley football, and we shook hands. The next day, I came into the office and had a picture on my desk that had a football frame around it. It was a picture of the football senior class of 2007 at Mo Valley. I think we gifted all of our coaches the picture at the end of the season. With the picture was a note from Coach Miller that said it would probably mean more to me to have it.

It showed me that coaching us was just as important to him as it was for us to be playing the game, even though about a decade had gone by.

I knew Coach Miller had been Tyrone’s head coach long before he was at Mo Valley, but I didn’t know he had also coached at Philipsburg and Bellefonte. And as far as I know, he had no ties to any of the schools but Tyrone.

It’s something you never realize when you’re in high school, but you appreciate it when you get a little older that Coach Miller took his time to help kids he didn’t know, or as he called us, ‘the boys up the mountain.’

Coach Miller played college football at Colorado State. He had talked more than once that he would show us some film or some old football apparel that he played with way back in the 1960s. I never saw any of that, but that would have been cool to see. I really wish I had gotten to play more than one season with him.

The last time I saw Coach Miller was a couple years ago. I was covering a Tyrone boys basketball game, and he was coaching elementary basketball at halftime with one of his grandchildren playing. He sure loved coaching, but you could tell he enjoyed it a little more when he was coaching his grandson.

He’s always going to be remembered as a Tyrone legend. But I can tell you from experience that the boys up the mountain enjoyed having him there, too.

Rest in peace, Coach Miller. Thanks for everything.

Andy Stine is the sports editor at The Daily Herald and The Daily News. He can be reached at sports@thedailyherald.net.

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