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Smithtown West honors softball coach Dave Miller
Smithtown High School Athletic Director Pat Smith had important news to tell Smithtown West softball coach Dave Miller early Saturday morning, prior to the Bulls' League III/IV home crossover ball game against Copiague.
"He called to inform me that there was a leak in the roof of the baseball/softball storage room," Miller said. "All my equipment was damaged and he said they put my equipment in the cafeteria downstairs."
Miller, 67, who doesn’t live far from West High School, hurried over to meet Smith, who was waiting for the longtime head softball coach by the commons entrance outside to escort him to the cafeteria.
Upon arrival, Miller was serenaded with rounds of applauses and cheers from current student-athletes and coaches and former players and parents to celebrate the naming of Smithtown West’s softball field to the Dave Miller Field.
"I had no clue," said Miller, who admitted to being shocked and overwhelmed with the number of people in the room, which Smith calculated at 150. "When you do something for your life that you love doing, it’s a great thing. I’m speechless as to how this works.
To have something named after you, it’s a tremendous honor."
Miller has been coaching at West for 34 years and counting, including two years of JV softball and 32 years of varsity softball. He is currently 441-207 overall, which includes the Bulls (5-4) latest 12-0 win over the Eagles.
"He’s a very important part of our program," Smith said. "I’ve known him for such a long time. He’s the staple of our coaching staff. All the coaches look up to him."
Miller was delighted to see his former players, Tricia Ruta, Coleen Duffy, Jen Hunsucker, Lori Stapleton and Joanne Duckham show up, sporting Dave Miller Field T-Shirts, with the rest of the entourage.
He also made sure to tip his cap to the current student-athletes for not spilling the beans.
"I’ve got to give them credit," said Miller, who mentioned Ed Jermysuk as being instrumental in his coaching career as a long-time assistant coach from Sept. 1992 through June 2005, before retiring from softball coaching in 2006. "Fifteen teenage girls keeping a secret is pretty darn impressive."
Humbled, to say the least, Miller is looking forward to seeing the ‘Miller’s Field’ sign up on the scoreboard, located on the school building behind the field. As he likes to tease himself about the games, "the girls win them all, I lose them all," he said, laughing. "If you hang around long enough, you have to win enough games to receive such an honor."
From Smith’s perspective, the day was a win-win for everyone.
"It was awesome," Smith said. "The current kids and parents were instrumental in helping out. The coaching staff and the players helped put a ribbon on the backstop. Just a nice day."