Drake girls’ cross country: Miller enters year three with the team

Charismatic, goofy, spirited: these are all words one could use to describe Rich Miller, head coach of girls’ cross country. 

After sweltering summer runs, Miller brings chilled watermelon for his girls. 

He enlightens the team with made-up or butchered words such as “broke-d-ed,” meaning broken or injured, or “booberflims,” meaning butterflies. 

Sometimes, he plays gothic choir music during post-run stretches. 

One of his best quirks would be his bike. It is a turquoise rigid bike with a fuzzy purple hippo attached underneath the seat. 

Miller got his start with cross country when he was in high school. 

“I was a senior at Drake High School. As a junior, Larry Boone (friend) said to me, ‘You’re too chicken to run cross country.’ I said, ‘No, I’m not,’ and he said, ‘Yeah, you are,’ and I said, ‘No, you are.’ Then we joined the next year,” said Miller. 

Before cross country, Miller never played sports. Although, he did a lot of biking for fun with his buddies. He would ride his green Schwinn 10 speed over Mt. Tam, down to Stinson Beach.

He continued to run for a couple of years at College of Marin until he suffered an injury. Over time, his body recovered, and he began running again in his 20’s, participating in local races. 

Miller said that he started coaching at Drake when his youngest daughter was running for the team. During her second year, he began volunteering to drive the team around.

“My coaching credentials at that time was that I had a large car… It’s a beautiful minivan,” said Miller. His 2000, gold Toyota Sienna still carries the team from trail to trail. 

He had followed running for a long time, so he knew a little bit about workouts. Although, he says that when he was given the responsibility to coach, he didn’t know what he knows now. He’s evolved from just sending his girls on long runs to more repetitive workouts made to increase speed and strength. 

“He is a great coach because he knows how to balance pushing us to work our hardest, while also making the sport more fun,” said Kyla Seeley, one of Drake girls’ cross country’s top runners.

Back in 2017, his first year as a coach, Miller brought the team to their first MCAL win in 55 years. 

“I don’t have a goal of the team doing this or that type of thing, or winning. I don’t have those goals. Mostly, I want as many girls to finish this season as they started the season,” said Miller when reflecting on this years’ MCAL season so far. 

Miller believes that cross country is the kind of sport that should foster feelings of accomplishment and a sense of community. 

According to his team, this is just the kind of guy Miller is. He’s not about the superficial stuff. He truly loves his sport and his team. 

“I love being with the girls. That’s really what’s kept me going,” said Miller.