Sep. 16—It was a special night Wednesday at The Jungle as Alexandria celebrated the life of a true Tiger, and I was so happy to be there.
Deanna Miller died this summer after over 20 years of coaching with the volleyball program and just after being named a varsity head coach for the first time.
Dominated by memories and laying out Miller's ongoing legacy for the future, the evening was a very well done remembrance, and athletic director Mickey Hosier and former head coach Jeff Harmon should be applauded for the event.
Posters adorned the hallways and the gymnasium, each of which contained a memory of "Coach D" as Miller was called, from players past and present. Some were poignant as a player would remember one of the many times Miller made a difference in their life.
Many captured a humorous time that brought about a smile.
And most of those involved Miller's various driving faux pas. She once took a speed bump at 45 mph, and there was an incident that involved the demolition of a mirror.
One also pointed out a Tik Tok video involving a piece of cheese, and another said a video was once played in Miller's presence that was described as "not Deanna appropriate".
While those were cause for smiles, they were likely the memories flowing through the minds of the players, most of whom were red-eyed from tears before the ceremony even began.
Harmon spoke at length about Miller and pointed to how important she had always been to the volleyball program. The two worked together for 11 years, and he said the worst season during that time was a 20-10 campaign, for which he said Miller deserved much of the credit.
"That success wouldn't have happened without Deanna Miller," he said. "She was Alexandria volleyball."
He followed by announcing he was forming a scholarship in her name, one that has raised $3,000 so far. It will be awarded to an Alexandria athlete to be chosen by the Miller family — husband Jeff and daughters Abigail, Lauren and Megan — each year.
Donations are being accepted and can be sent directly to the high school.
Most of the family was on hand — Megan could not be there because of a commitment with her Northwestern team. But in another remembrance of Miller, they will all be present in the spring when a tree will be planted in her honor on the school grounds. A plaque honoring Miller will be included, similar to the one that already hangs on the wall near the concession stand in the southeast corner of the gym.
Hosier said that was her spot, where he said she spent so much time counseling players and winning every argument with her AD.
All comprise a fitting testament to her legacy, a legacy that was represented by all the former players — including Allie Hueston, Allyson Granger, Kaitlyn Bair and Lauren Dungan — who were in attendance.
And as I watched this year's team take turns hugging Abigail, Lauren and Jeff at the close of the ceremony, I realized I was watching Miller's living and ongoing legacy play out right in front of me.
Her impact will make each of the young ladies she has mentored during her all-too brief life better people.
And there is no better way to encapsulate Miller's legacy than that.
Contact Rob Hunt at email@example.com or 765-640-4886.