Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Twitter – @gamiller_24
Gabe Miller is in his 6th year as a Men’s Basketball Assistant Coach at Loras College in Iowa. Miller came to Loras prior to the 2016 season after two seasons as the assistant coach at Judson University in Elgin, Ill. Under Head Coach Chris Martin, Miller serves as the primary recruiting coordinator as well as overseeing the strength and conditioning program.
During his time with the Duhawks, Gabe has helped coach the team to the 2017 Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (IIAC) Championship and the NCAA Division III Sweet 16 in 2019. The Duhawks have also finished in the top-three of the conference each of the past five seasons.
As a college basketball player at Anderson (IN) University, Miller helped the Ravens to a conference championship and appearance in the NCAA Tournament. In addition, Miller was a two-time All-Conference selection and ranks in the top-10 all-time in career assists and steals.
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Make sure you have a notebook ready as you listen to this episode with Gabe Miller, Men’s Basketball Assistant Coach at Loras College in the state of Iowa.
What We Discuss with Gabe Miller
- Growing up in Indiana as one of 5 boys in his family
- Watching his older brother who played college basketball and inspired him to do the same
- Winning an Indiana state championship his junior year in high school
- “A loss is still an opportunity to learn.”
- “There’s something about a loss that almost makes you just really evaluate a little bit more than what you might typically do.”
- Intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation
- Coaching your own kids
- “It’s what each individual is passionate about and what they want to do and where they find joy.”
- The story of ending up at Anderson University after getting the feeling he wasn’t in right place at the first school he chose
- “The decisions that you make impact who you are and the path that you’re going to be on.”
- “Comparison is the thief of joy.”
- How his perspective on basketball changed between his sophomore and junior seasons and he became more narrowly focused
- “Basketball was just what I did. And now it shifted to who I am.”
- Learning the science behind better performance on the court
- Choices and habits are the keys to success
- Why he doesn’t eat until noon each day
- “I love like the thought of stacking wins day after day after day after day.”
- “You gain a little bit more traction with players when your actions and your words match up.”
- Competing with yourself every day
- “When you know who you are, you don’t have to worry anymore.”
- Working as a trainer and then an athletic director in youth sports immediately after college
- How relationships helped him get his first coaching job at Judson University
- Taking the position at Judson even though the pay was far less than ideal and working three jobs to make ends meet
- “I think when when you’re competitive, you’re competitive the rest of your life.”
- How coaching AAU Basketball in Illinois led to his opportunity at Loras
- His initial impression of Coach Chris Martin at Loras and why he immediately wanted the job
- As an assistant, “You need to be able to take the workload off your head coach as much as possible.”
- How he learns about leadership everyday from Coach Martin
- “It’s not, I want to be the best assistant coach. No, it’s like, I want this program to be awesome.”
- “I’m going to be loyal and I’m going to have energy.”
- Loyalty – every decision made is in the best interest of the program
- “I know why we’re doing this. I know who we are.”
- Advice on eliminating distractions
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THANKS, GABE MILLER
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TRANSCRIPT FOR GABE MILLER – LORAS COLLEGE MEN’S BASKETBALL ASSISTANT COACH – EPISODE 584
[00:00:00] Mike Klinzing: Hello and welcome to the Hoop Heads Podcast. It’s Mike Klinzing here without my co-host Jason Sunkle tonight, but I am pleased to be joined by Gabe Miller, the associate men’s basketball coach at Loras College. Gabe, welcome to the Hoop Heads Pod
[00:00:11] Gabe Miller: Mike. Hey, I appreciate you having me on tonight. Looking forward to it.
[00:00:16] Mike Klinzing: Excited to have you on… looking forward to diving in and learning more about you and your career and want to start by going back in time to when you were a kid. Tell us a little bit about how you got introduced to the game. What are some of your first experiences?
[00:00:28] Gabe Miller: Yeah, definitely. It’s funny to just sit here and think back and try to figure out the important people in my life or the important situations or whatever happened.
You know, I grew up in Southern Indiana and when, when you hear people who are from Indiana, they always see pictures of snowy driveways and several other things getting shots up or whatever the case is like Indiana. Like that’s what you do, right? Like basketball was it. And I was fortunate enough to be raised by two awesome parents.
And I I’m one of five boys in a family. So I have three older brothers who basketball and sports. And that, that’s how I was introduced to it. That’s, that’s what it was. And I remember going to elementary games and high school games and junior high games and college games and sitting in the bleachers and watching my older brothers play and right or wrong.
I was almost destined to play basketball who was basketball to be a part of my life. And so that was a fun part of, of just growing up and getting beat on. And you know, when we get together for the holidays or when, when all of us, all of our brothers can get together, like we just tell stories and we’re so competitive and we just rag on each other and we talk about that one time I beat you one-on-one or that one time that one of my older brothers, I stole it from him out on a back court.
And he shoved me into the pole and chipped my tooth. And those are the stories that were, we remember, we talk about and like, yeah, it’s all fun and games and everything, but there was a competitive competitiveness to us growing up. And it was a lot of fun. And like I said, like, that’s what we do in Indiana and early on that’s what it was.
And Getting introduced to basketball was pretty easy,
[00:02:10] Mike Klinzing: Safe to say for sure. Where you and your brothers right on the edge of crazy. Cause I know I have friends that I grew up with just about any family that has only boys and has more than two. It just seems like, man, those houses get crazy with people going super competitive and just where you’re almost right on the edge.
Yeah, it’s competitive. And then sometimes it flips over being competitive to feel like I’m really legitimately trying to like beat the tar out of you.
[00:02:39] Gabe Miller: I mean, I think crazy. It’s almost sitting at lightly, right? I, I say this often, and when I, when I tell people that I’m one of five, like my mom was a Saint and bless her heart.
And she, she did some awesome things and she put up with some crazy situations and some crazy stories and If I had a dollar for every time I heard just wait until your dad gets home. You know, that type of situation of whether it was us fighting each other us telling on each other, punching the other guy or whatever it was, it was crazy then.
And it’s still crazy now with kids running around and babies now. And so it was cool to see full circle, just what it’s like and the competitiveness that can be drawn out of each other.
[00:03:23] Mike Klinzing: For sure. Your parents have any granddaughters yet?
[00:03:26] Gabe Miller: They do have a granddaughter. So they’ve got a handful. I know my mom was loving that your mom was happy.
[00:03:33] Mike Klinzing: Yeah, she will finally go to finally go to the store and buy some girls clothes.
[00:03:38] Gabe Miller: No doubt about it.
[00:03:41] Mike Klinzing: All right. So you mentioned that you played other sports. Where you, at what point did you start to zero in, on basketball or were you a multi-sport athlete when it get, when you got the high school?
[00:03:49] Gabe Miller: Yeah, I grew up in a, in a small town, so I went to a small high school, so we didn’t have football.
So growing up it was basketball. It was basketball and baseball and then we all did tennis for the fun of it. And it was also, it’s almost like you do tennis just to quote unquote, get in shape for the basketball season. And then after basketball, you flow right into the baseball season.
So you know, the growing up the youth leagues of the basketball and baseball, those were the big things. And that’s what it was. You know, a typical route for the year for kids that we would hang out with and we knew that we were going to play summer baseball and we knew right after summer baseball, we were going to go run into tennis.
And then from tennis, we were going to go into the basketball season. So it was full circle, pretty scheduled out in every. You know, I knew deep down early on I had the opportunity. One of my older brothers played college basketball at a Franklin in Indiana, and I remember just growing up and going to his games and watching and traveling.
And that was when I was like, I want to do this. I want to play college basketball. And that was one of the biggest impacts on my life was watching him and he had a successful career and he set some high school records and was pretty successful at the college level as well. But I just remember traveling to the games with my family and.
People from the town and just the excitement that, that brought them. And that was the itch that like, yeah, I want to do this actually seeing college basketball and experiencing that as a, as a kid in a few years out that’s where I really got the desire to continue moving on to play college ball translate.
[00:05:35] Mike Klinzing: watching your brother and I’m sure having conversations with him.
How did that translate into what you did to work and improve and become a better player so that you might have the opportunity to play college basketball after your high school career was over?
[00:05:49] Gabe Miller: Yeah, definitely. So it, it really, it started my sixth and seventh grade years. You know, I was blessed and fortunate enough to play on a team that we didn’t lose a game.
My fifth grade, sixth grade, seventh grade or eighth grade year. So. 97. Oh, leading into my freshman year of high school. And my sixth grade year, I was actually the ball boy, the manager, whatever it is for the high school varsity team. So I traveled on the bus. I went to the practices, I did the water bottles.
I did everything. And my older brother was a senior that year. And so we we’ve actually won a sectional championship for the first time in school history. So like I was just involved and absorbed into that and I get to see the type of work ethic. I remember him coming home from lifting as a senior in high school and drinking protein shakes and watching him do all this stuff.
And like, then that was translating to a successful high school career. And then him committing to college and the, the habits that he was creating and that he was you know, instilling that he didn’t realize I was watching really paid off in that looking back now, I’m like, yeah, Early on and I I’m, I’m a big habits guy and a big routine guy, and just the impact that those can have on your life.
Like, that’s, that’s a huge influence, right? Like you see that now as a father that, that plays a huge role into the, the types of conversations that I have with, with my kids or the, the impact that we can have on our guys now, like, even though it might not be a direct conversation, what you’re doing and what people see plays a huge role in it.
[00:07:30] Mike Klinzing: Absolutely. Growing up in small town, Indiana. Did you, I’m assuming play with the same group of kids from the time you were little, you pretty much knew who your high school teammates were.
[00:07:42] Gabe Miller: Yup, exactly. So I knew we had a really good group of guys that played AAU wasn’t shoes. It was just starting to take off a little bit when I got into high school, but from third, fourth, fifth, up up until my freshman year where as a freshman year.
You can move up to like junior varsity or varsity or whatever the case is. Like we played together and we had one of our buddy’s dads was the coach. And so that was pretty consistent and yeah, maybe a kid moved in or moved out or whatever, but you know, on senior night of our high school year, there’s a group of five or six of us that had been together since our fifth grade year, which was really exciting.
That’s for sure.
[00:08:25] Mike Klinzing: Absolutely. What’s your favorite memory when you think back to your high school playing career, there’s one or two things stand out for you?
[00:08:32] Gabe Miller: Yeah, there’s kind of, I would say two things. So I was fortunate enough again. My older brother who played college ball, he graduated.
And then I have another older brother who’s two years older than myself. So as a sophomore I was starting as a point guard on the varsity team. And we had a pretty good season and we were playing in the semi-state game and this is the farthest that our school had ever been. And we got beat in the semi-state on a last second tip in, and just the devastation that, that brought because yes, we just got beat and how close we were to reaching the state championship.
But my brother was on the team as a senior and he was never going to play he wasn’t going to play college ball or anything, but I just remember after that game, there’s a picture of me kneeled over at the half court line, just sobbing. Yeah, we lost in that stung, but just the fact that I was never going to get to play basketball with him again.
That was a big part of it. And then the following year we had the opportunity and just things worked out. We were blessed. We won a state championship my junior year. And the morning of our state championship game, my older brother who graduated the year before, wrote me a handwritten note on a post-it and put it in the bathroom before we left on the bus.
And I just remember, and he’s just like it said, Gabe, like, I’m so proud of you. This is awesome. Go win a state championship. And like, it meant more to win a state championship because of the, the experience that we had the year before of getting so close they talk about the taste of victory is so sweet when you can taste defeat a little bit, right.
But that was a big part of, of the high school season and the experience of, yeah. The joy of not many people can win a state championship and win a state championship in Indiana. That’s even a little bit more specialized say.
[00:10:30] Mike Klinzing: It’s super interesting to me that the first thing you mentioned is the loss obviously chronologically.
It makes sense, but I also think that when you have an opportunity to have been a successful player, and obviously you were at the high school level and the college level. You don’t lose as a you don’t lose very often. And so those losses, I always say that I want a lot of games, but the losses are the ones that really stick with me.
If you asked me that same question, I have a couple of good moments, but I have a couple of, I have a couple of losses that I ranked those as. I don’t know that they’re my, I don’t know that they’re my favorite memories. But when you ask me for what’s my most vivid memory or what things do I think about most when it comes to my high school career?
I definitely think about those losses and I think it’s always interesting to. You get that question of, do you love to win more? Do you hate to lose? And I think it’s a, it’s not an easy question to answer, but I think when I think about my own memories and I think about the things that stick with me, I I put myself in that I think the hate to lose category more than that, more than the love to win.
And obviously you love to win, but man, those losses stick with you.
[00:11:34] Gabe Miller: Right. Exactly. I think it was a Kobe Bryant in one interview. He was kind of, they were, they were kind of getting to that question, right? Do you love to win or hate to lose type of thing. And he’s just like, what is failure?
Like there’s like failures like that’s all in your imagination, right? Like a loss is, is still an opportunity to learn and that’s a huge part. And I think that’s, that’s why sports are so awesome and so different than anything else because of the fact that they can teach individuals so much about like.
And you know, now coaching, right. You can lose a game and yeah, you can get mad and it’s on your record forever, but like there’s lessons to be learned, right? Like whether it was your game day prep, whether it was decision-making, whether it was the conversation you had with the referee or the conversation you had with a player or whatever the case is, like, there’s so many lessons that you can learn and you can do that in wins too.
Don’t get me wrong. But you know, there’s something about a loss that almost makes you just really evaluate a little bit more than what you might typically do. And as much as the loss hurts.
[00:12:42] Mike Klinzing: Yeah. It’s not like a loss necessarily in real life. Can I have not that it doesn’t have a real impact on your life because as coaches and players, we know that those losses do have a real impact on your life, but you can bounce back from those.
You lose, you lose game 12 of your season and your season’s not over. You can come back and you get another opportunity to play. And, and those life lessons I think are a really, really important. I’m curious, how old are your kids? Are they playing sports?
[00:13:09] Gabe Miller: Yeah. They’re Crew our first is three years old and Fletcher is one. So we’re not there yet.
[00:13:15] Mike Klinzing: Not yet.
[00:13:17] Gabe Miller: Crew is really digging into basketball right now. We, we do a lot of imagination and games and we’ve got our the who set up inside and so it, it’s fun. He’s starting to really pick it up a little bit, but I nothing’s pushed. Right? Like you just haven’t had to enjoy.
And just have fun with it.
[00:13:39] Mike Klinzing: I can preview it for you. It’s going to be fun and it’s going to be challenging as you go through if they, if they end up playing hoops, because I just found with my own kids, and this is a question that, or just something that I’ve talked with other coaches about, it’s interesting when we’re talking about teaching life lessons and a game and how much losing hurts and how much you enjoy winning.
And it’s funny, I’ll be coaching my kids and I have a, my daughter’s a senior now, my son’s a sophomore and I have another daughter since sixth grade. And so I’ve coached them all at various levels and whatever. And as a coach, when we play a game and we lose and I’m just, as you get totally wrapped up in it and you look back and what could we have done differently?
And this and that. And then as each of them have gotten up older where I’m not coaching them, and then I’m sitting in the stands and as a parent, I want them to do well. And I hope their team wins. I hope they play well, but a minute after that game is over. Like, I’m no longer invested in the result of the game.
It’s like, I’m just, I’m just happy for them. But as a coach, man, those things, those things stick with you. So it’s just interesting, as you know, you got that parent versus that coach sort of perspective, depending on where you’re at and just, it’s amazing how much easier it is to detach when I’m just a parent, as opposed to I’m the coach of that team as well.
[00:14:57] Gabe Miller: There you go. What’s up. any piece of advice on that as, as he gets older?
[00:15:03] Mike Klinzing: I think the biggest thing, no, no, no. I think you definitely want to coach him. I think you definitely want to coach them. And here’s why I think what I always found is, and again, this goes to.
I always wanted to coach them in basketball. I coached my son a little bit with baseball. I did it for a year or two, and then I got out simply because I didn’t feel like I was adding a tremendous amount of baseball value. And I also thought he needed to hear a different voice, but with basketball, and I’m sure you can speak to this to some degree you see there’s all different types of coaching that a kid can be that a kid can get involved with.
And with basketball, I felt like because I could bring some knowledge of the game. And then I also knew that I could create the kind of environment that I wanted him to be in from a basketball standpoint, I felt like that was important. So I always coached all my kids. I coach my daughter’s coach, my coach, my son.
And then I think the other piece of it that I’ve always, I don’t know, struggled with. I think I’d know that the way that I handled it was the right way to handle it, but it’s really difficult. And what I mean by that is as a basketball guy, I always felt like I want, and I was a kid that like, I could never get enough.
I was on my driveway all the time. By the time I was 13, I was hopping on my bike and riding down to the park and playing with the high school and college and adult guys. And then by the time I could drive, or my friends could drive, we were driving all over the city to find games and doing this and that.
And I was just a kid that I just loved it. And none of my, none of my three kids have been wired like that. So it was difficult, probably more difficult with my son than my daughter, just because again, I probably relate to his experience more than I related to my daughter’s sports experience.
But with my kids, what I found to be the most challenging piece of it is how much do you push? And there are times where I’m going to the gym and part of me would want to be like, come on, man, you got to go. I’d always ask. But if you said no. I would kind of walk out of the house a little disgruntled, but I always held my tongue and didn’t make any of the kids go to something that they didn’t want to go to.
So sometimes they would go, but there were a lot of times that they did. And as a father and as somebody who was wired the way I was wired, that was really, really hard for me. And I would see other parents, other dads, and they’d kind of have their kid, they’d be dragging them around or they’d have a kid who was more like me who wanted to go to all this stuff.
And part of me is like, ah, man, I wish I wish my son was more like that or I wish my daughter was more like that, that they wanted to just tag along to the gym every time I went and they just weren’t. And my son’s now a sophomore and at the end of his eighth grade year, all of a sudden that light went back on or, or came on for the first time.
And. He just started, Hey dad, can you take me? Can we go shoot, can we do this? Can can you put together some workouts for me? Can we do? And it was just like, he went from being completely one direction to completely going in the other direction. And it’s just been a really interesting journey to see where, like he was a kid who always played hard, always worked hard and practice was super coachable, but just didn’t have I tell people all the time, like he just doesn’t have, he’s just not wired and driven to go and get better outside of the things that are quote required.
And then all of a sudden, when he started doing that and you start seeing the improvement and you start seeing a little bit of that passion come in and as a father, you kind of look at it and you’re like, okay, I think. I think I did it right? Because you wonder if I’m dragging him to stuff. When he’s 8, 9, 10 years old one, does he eventually hate the game?
And two, does he eventually get sick of dad dragging them to all these places that he didn’t want to go to? So it was really hard to, to not push, but I really feel like in the end I made the best decision because one, the relationship is solid. And two, as you know, if a kid’s not going to work out on their own, if they’re only working at it because their coach tells them to, because their dad tells him to, or their mom drags him somewhere, they’re never going to be good enough to do anything anyway, it has to come from them.
And so, even though it was really difficult, I guess the advice that I’d give you and I’d give any parent is just provide as many opportunities for your kids to do whatever it is. And then eventually they’re going to probably find whatever their passion is and. My family was a basketball family because of me.
So they got a lot more exposure to basketball just because that’s what I was doing all the time. And I’m sure it’d be the same for you. So the chances of them finding basketball and liking basketball are pretty high, but I think you, if you don’t become that crazy overbearing parent, who’s making your kid do stuff.
I think in the long run, you’re better off. And again, I’m not a hundred percent sure that’s right. Maybe if I, maybe if I dragged him to a bunch of stuff, maybe he might’ve got better sooner and that passion might’ve kicked on. So I don’t know for sure that I’m right, but, but I feel like for, for where we are now, I feel like to some degree, what I did was vindicated.
[00:20:28] Gabe Miller: So I think you can go, you can go many different ways. You know, whether it’s like the tiger woods childhood story or that, or whatever that is like, there’s so many different routes that you can go and there’s no right or wrong way. And it’s, it’s your way. And you know, if that’s what you feel is right, like do it.
And you know that, like you said, you got to it like the intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation. It’s at the end of the day, it’s what each individual is passionate about and what they want to do and where they find joy. You know, where they can feel like they can be themselves.
And I think that’s, that’s the key to it.
[00:21:06] Mike Klinzing: And that’s what parenting is. Forget about sports. I mean, we’re all just flying by the seat of our pants. It doesn’t matter what, it doesn’t matter what you’re doing. You’re just like, you’re like, Hey, I’m trying to, I’m trying to do this. Right. I think, I think I know what I’m doing.
I think I’m making the right decision, but who knows? And you can’t go back and create, create an alternative reality and do something different. So you just have to try it and you try to do the best you can. And that’s all, that’s all. That’s all you can do. All right. Let’s get back to your playing career.
You get an opportunity and have a successful high school career. You’ve always wanted to play college basketball. What’s the recruitment like what’s your decision-making process for ended up in Anderson for sure.
[00:21:43] Gabe Miller: You know, again, I kind of mentioned a little bit ago, like AAU wasn’t as big in the recruiting Recruiting scene was just starting to take off I, I ended up playing AAU really diving into the year after my junior year and dug into it.
And like, I remember going to AAU tournaments and like playing against some high level names and some big time coaches and like as a, as a small town kid, I’m like, oh my gosh, like, what is this? And to now know what it is now it, it’s just crazy where it kind of started in where it’s going to continue to grow.
You know, going into my senior year, I was, I was open. The recruiting process was good, was fine. Coaches were calling and they would show up to see you play and text messaging wasn’t huge than it was more so phone calls and handwritten letters or whatever the case was.
And then you go visit. And so just knowing what the recruiting is like now with FaceTime or texts or calls or whatever it was then. And it’s just, it’s just funny to see it all and the growth of it. Yeah. Ended up had some opportunities to walk on it, some scholarships schools or to play at the division two level or whatever the case was.
And that’s kind of a key point in my life is I had committed to a division two school and was going up to some, some workouts over, over the summer and was doing some things and thought that that was the path that I was wanting to go. And I had it was August of, of the year and I’m getting ready to start school and probably two or three weeks, right?
Like the classes were set. My schedule was said I was doing some open gym, runs with the team. And for whatever reason, I went up one day and faith is, is a big part of my life. And there’s, there’s not many other ways that I can. Tell this story without bringing that into it, but it was just a, it was a matter of, of faith that I just had a feeling that that school was not where I was supposed to be.
And I left the parking lot that day. Didn’t go play open gym and went home and told my parents. And I said, Hey, like I, I’m not supposed to be. That’s not the school that I’m supposed to go to. I’m supposed to go to Anderson university for whatever reason. Like I had no idea it recruited me. Yes. I had told them probably three months ago that I wasn’t interested in.
I was 17, 18 years old and I thought it was a lot better than what I was. And you know, division three was below me, quote unquote, that that was my thought. And during the recruiting process and I just I had it in my mind. I wanted to play at the highest level for whatever reason.
And but you know, that, that turned out to be wrong. And so made a phone call that afternoon and called the head coach at Anderson coach Slider. And I told him the situation and That he was lucky enough, or I was lucky enough and fortunate enough that he made some phone calls to the school and I was able to go up for orientation and get my class schedule in about a week and moved in two days later.
And you know, looking back now it’s just crazy because my, my wife now was a senior at Anderson my freshman year. So it’s just funny how it all works out. Like there was a reason for it, right? Like who knows where life could be and, you know life is like that. And the, the decisions that you make impact who you are and the path that you’re going to be on.
And you know, fortunate enough to have some strong influence influential voices in my life that were able to direct me during that. And so ended up at Andrea. As a, that’s kind of the long story short, but that’s the path that I was able to take. And the four years at Anderson shaped me for who I am and who the type of person that I want to become.
Those were four key years of my life. That’s for sure.
[00:25:48] Mike Klinzing: Did you know right away when you were there and you got involved with the team and you’re going to class, did you know right away that’s decision obviously to leave the previous school was the right one, but did you know right away that Anderson you’re like, oh yeah, this, this is, this is the right fit for me.
[00:26:03] Gabe Miller: I did. Yeah, for sure. It just felt right. Like I knew deep down that that was the staff that I wanted to play for. It’s just funny again, the thinking back to when I was a sixth, seventh grader and watching my brother play college ball, like I wanted to play college basketball for that experience of.
So to make my family proud and make the town proud and everything. And that was the driving force early on in my career. And I think that’s important. I do. I think family is super important, but until you truly find your purpose as an individual, like that was the shift for me.
And that happened later on in my career at Anderson was like, I’m going to do this for me. Like I want to be successful. I want to find who I am as an individual and take that route versus trying to please others. And I think, you know you know, comparison’s the thief of joy and I think that’s a, that’s a quote that is written on my wall and something that I live by is like that that’s, that can take a lot out of you.
Like when you’re trying to compare your situation to others like that. Th there’s no good inroad to that. And so I didn’t, it didn’t matter what others were saying or whatever the route was, or oh, you’re doing this or you’re doing that. Like, if you could shut out those voices, I think that’s a huge driving point for your life, for sure.
[00:27:28] Mike Klinzing: I think that’s another parenting mantra that I use all the time with my kids and you use it and you try to talk about it. And if you’re ever in situations where you see people who are comparers and any, anybody in my life that I know that’s a comparer is never a happy person, because even when they have good things that happen to them, there’s always somebody else that has something better happen to them.
And I just think that if you can use that, not only with your, with your players, with yourself, but man, as a parent, if you can instill that ability to just be happy with what you have and to be, have a drive. Achieve for yourself, not so you can one up somebody else. I think you just have a, you have an, you have an opportunity to be a lot happier in your life than if you’re always looking over your shoulder.
Let’s face it. Look today, right? Compared to when you were playing or when I was playing you think about social media, what kids that are growing up today, what they have to compare themselves to used to be like, again, who’d you compare yourself to in high school may be a kid. Across the 20 miles away, it was maybe as far as you had to go to, to be the best player and you, you didn’t know any better.
Otherwise, now you’re a kid in Southern Indiana. I mean, you know what some kid in California is doing and what offer they have. And I can’t even imagine what kids today have to go through with all the highlight videos that are out there and all the posts about got this, got this offer and got that offer and just the pressure that you feel and your friends saying, Hey, well, when are you going to get your offer?
And this and that. And I can’t even imagine what that’s like.
[00:29:05] Gabe Miller: That’s right. I remember in high school you play on a Friday night. I remember waking up Saturday morning and walking up our driveway and getting the newspaper to check the scores, the teams 20 minutes away to see if they won.
And like I had no idea that some of the names in the box scores, but just that, that’s just funny. Like, it’s just, it’s just how different it is. That’s for sure. And that’s, and it’s not right or wrong. It’s just what we have. Correct. Right. Yeah, that’s funny.
[00:29:36] Mike Klinzing: All right. So when did coaching get on your radar?
What would you study in school? What did you plan to do? Was it, was it always coaching? Was it always staying involved in the game or did coaching not become a thought until after your playing career?
[00:29:47] Gabe Miller: Yeah, so I went into college wanting to be a teacher and I wanted to be a English teacher and I wanted to be a high school coach.
And that’s what I thought I wanted to do. I think the teaching aspect was more so, just so I could coach, because that’s kinda what I had always been told. And then it was in between my sophomore and junior season of college that it kind of all flipped for me. And that was when I was like, I need to, why am I doing this?
And I actually told our head coach that I thought I was going to quit and I didn’t want to play basketball anymore. Finally what, I don’t know exactly what happened or what it was, but the, it, the light bulb turned on. And I was like, no, like if I’m going to do this, if I’m going to play college basketball, I need to commit 100%.
So I changed my major to exercise science and I learned how to eat. Right. I learned how to workout. I learned just the, the whole scope of maximizing your, your ability, the science behind it. Like you could read everything in magazines and whatnot, but I wanted to teach myself and wanted to learn and wanted to dig into it and find out, okay, I need to be eating this two days before our game.
I need to be eating this a day before a game, or I need to be taking this before a workout or whatever the case is. And that’s when you know, things really shifted in my life. This is what I want to do, right? Like if you want to be great at anything if you look at the grades and I’m, I’m a, I’m a big reader.
And I love looking at like the Kobe Bryant’s and I’m not a huge LeBron LeBron guy, but like Elon Musk and Steve Jobs and those types of individuals, right? Like they have such a limited hobby list. Like they are so narrow focused into what they want to do and what they want to achieve.
Right. Like if you have 20 buckets and you’re trying to put a, a hundred things in those 20 buckets and it’s so spread out, like you’re not going to be good at anything, but it’s just three buckets. Right. And you can have 25 things here and 30 things here, like really go into those three things or whatever that is.
That’s where you can achieve success at the highest level. And that’s what I started to learn. Like, okay, I don’t need to be doing this. Everybody else can do that. I’m going to do two or three things and from eating right to working out to extra shots or digging into my faith or you know, just the narrow minded focus, I think was a huge shift for me.
That shift got me into the physical training, the sports specific training and how to become a better basketball player. And that’s where my true love of basketball really took off growing up, yes, basketball was always a part of my life, but up until that point I think it was all for the, I don’t wanna say wrong reasons, but it was just what I did.
And now it shifted to who I am and that was the turning point for me. And then graduating basketball had been such a part of my life that I almost pushed it away. Right. Like I graduated and I, we had some successful seasons at Anderson and we went to the national tournament, won the conference championship and everything.
And it was, it was, it was awesome. Right. It was great. Played for years and have some awesome relationships. And the coaching staff is three or four of the strongest mentors of my life currently and still some awesome people that I talk to every other day. But you know, it’s, it’s what you do in, why’d you do it is the turning point that allowed me to become, yeah, I want to be a coach.
Right. And you know, I think my wife was able to speak into that and be like, Don’t push this away. Like this is who you are, and this is the type of person that you are. And it’s funny because I got into college wanting to be a teacher. Right. And I’m not a huge fan of like the word coach and everything.
I think I think we can teach more life lessons that we can teach more off the court in this profession that is deemed coaching. And I think that’s a huge part of it.
[00:34:18] Mike Klinzing: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. It’s funny, just hearing you talk about learning and then sort of shifting the way that you went about doing things.
And so when you think about that, before we dive into how you got took your first step into coaching, I just want to circle back to just, you talked earlier too, about how you’re a big believer in habits. So when you, when you changed what you did, like this has taken your diet, for example. So when you said, Hey, I changed my diet.
Like, what were you, what were you doing before? You’re eating like a typical college kid? Like you would probably like, so I just, for me, we used to practice when I was at cancer. This is, I was there from 88 to 92 and we would have the preseason. We would have these Saturday morning, like blue and gold games.
So inner squad game it’d be static and film or whatever, and the coaches would do it. So it’d be like three hours get up at seven in the morning. So we’d be done at like 10 and then me and a bunch of my teammates. We would go directly from that practice. To the local Ponderosa. And we will just, and we would literally sit in Ponderosa for like three hours and you’re eating chicken wings and steak.
I probably, I probably drank like a gallon and a half a soda and all this stuff. And you just you just think back to that. And I’m like, man, like, first of all, how dumb was it? Secondly, at that point it was like, we didn’t really even know better. Like my coach, we played, we were still eating. We would eat steak dinners for our pregame, which, and, and like, I was a kid who, for whatever reason, like the only thing I couldn’t play on was pizza.
Like you could feed me anything else. And I felt fine and it was normal, but now I look back on it and I’m like, man, if I would’ve and I was the kind of kid who, if you’d have told me, I probably would’ve changed. But nobody ever said to me like, Hey, you probably don’t want to drink a gallon and a half a pop after you play after you have a practice.
And I was a kid who could run and just I was playing all the time, whatever 20 years old. And you can do whatever you want, but it’s just interesting. So what did you, so what’d you change? I’m just curious about how you went about making.
[00:36:19] Gabe Miller: I remember sitting in my dorm room my freshman year and we’d go to Sam’s club and Sam’s club would have 36 packs of Mountain Dew.
I’d buy three or four of those things. I mean, I would drink those in three to four days. And it’s just, it’s talking to our guys now about in drinking soda or not drinking soda or whatever, like, and you just, you didn’t even think twice about it, right? Like on the Ponderosa, I would think twice about or steak before games or whatever the case is like.
Yeah, I just, those were the things in fast food and eating McDonald’s or whatever the case was like, just not having any idea what, what the fuel was that you put into your body, right? Like it was just, this tastes good. So I’m going to eat it, or this is giving me energy or whatever the case is.
And now knowing the science behind it, like, yeah, there’s a reason that fast food does taste good because that’s how they make money and it tastes good so that you keep coming back and whatever. So when I, when I made the shift and changed my major and everything and decided to go, go all in, like we, I dropped my I was living off campus, so that, that helped as well, but drop my meal plan and told my family and told my parents, and I was blessed to have this situation.
I wanted and maybe it’s the most healthy food, I don’t know, but I just want gift cards to subway. And again, I’m a creature of habit and I’m weird and that’s okay and whatever, but I eat the same thing for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the two years of my college. And maybe like, maybe we’d go out for dinner one night or whatever.
But the subway ladies knew my name because I would go every day at noon and get a sandwich. And then I would cook chicken and rice and vegetables for dinner. I’d eat a bowl of protein cereal at night. And that’s what I did every single day. And I did that in the summer. I did that in in the fall and the winter I, I ate the same we played on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
So I eat the same dinner on Tuesday nights and Friday nights. I’d go to and they’d have this because pasta gives you energy. Right? That’s what I thought I was the healthy way w whatever, but I need one of their chicken sandwiches with a side of pasta every night before a game and ate the same lunch.
And it did that for two years.
[00:38:41] Mike Klinzing: So do you still have any of those tendencies now?
[00:38:42] Gabe Miller: Yeah, I do. I do. I’m a weirdo for sure when it comes to that type of thing.
[00:38:48] Mike Klinzing: No, what’s your go-to, what’s your go to. So I have, and again, I’m, I’m not I’m not quite as, I’m not quite as healthy as you, but for a long time for basically, probably since, I don’t know, this is probably since high school, my lunch and breakfast, and I’m a little bit more flexible now than I used to be, but my.
And breakfast have been the same. So I eat a bowl of Cheerios with all brand two or three bucks, depending on how hungry I am, might be one bowl. It might be, it might be three with, with raisins on it and a banana and a glass of orange juice. That’s my breakfast. And then my launch is two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, raisins, and a banana.
And so if I have the opportunity, that’s, that’s my routine. And so everybody, it’s funny I work in, obviously I’m a teacher and the people that I sit in the cafeteria sit in the teacher’s lounge. People it took them a while, but after a couple of years, they’re like, don’t you ever eat anything else?
Like how can you eat peanut butter and jelly? My wife who used to like peanut butter and jelly now hates it because she’s like, I can’t look at you eating we’ve married like 20 years. She’s like, I can’t, I can’t look at you eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich again. It’s just, I’ll never, I’ll never eat one again.
[00:39:56] Gabe Miller: and before I get, get into that and the details of it. And this I really dug into for people like Steve Jobs and learning things about what they do. It’s like he, it’s something he doesn’t have to think about. For sure. If you can James Clear in his book, atomic habits is one of my favorite and life-changing books.
If you’ve never read it, but like it, like habits are so key. And if you can develop habits and just the healthy habits where it just happens automatically, and you don’t have to think about it, like it frees up so much mind space that allows you to worry or focus on what something else. Right.
So for me, I intermittent fast. So I don’t eat until noon. I eat from noon to 8:00 PM and that’s my timeframe of eating and from, so when I wake up, I allow myself to drink as much coffee as I want from four 30 or 5:00 AM to noon and I can drink as much coffee as I want. It’s all black. That doesn’t quote unquote break a fast.
So I probably drank way too much coffee, but and my wife and everybody makes fun of me and whatever, but I know
I know the first 1500 calories that I put in my body every single day. It’s it, whether we’re traveling, whether we’re on a road game or whatever the case is, or it’s a Sunday and we’re off or it’s Tuesday and you know, it’s something else that’s going on. So I know the, the smoothie that I make, I know exactly the what’s in it, the nutrition.
Break down. I know the bagel with peanut butter that I eat energy balls that I have at, at two 30. So it’s, it’s really weird. Like people give me so much crap about in whatever
at all. I know exactly what’s in my body. I know the, the, the breakdown of it. I know it’s gonna, I’m going to feel good when I eat it. And I know I like it. And I’ve been doing that for the last three years or so three, four years.
[00:42:02] Mike Klinzing: You’ve taken my weirdness to a whole nother level.
[00:42:06] Gabe Miller: Maybe you on Christmas morning, maybe I break it and I coffee cake or something with a family, but it’s pretty consistent.
And it really comes back to it’s a Mindset. It’s a competition that I have with myself. And you know, if you can make something competitive and I love like the thought of stacking wins day after day after day after day and stacking just individual wins, like win today. And that’s a, that’s a mindset like when this choice and everything is a choice and the choice to wake up early, or the choice to sleep in is, is a daily thing.
And the choice to make this protein shake or the choice to eat this fast food sandwich. Like I know what the right choices. Okay. Have the discipline to do that right. Choice. And that’s a key part that you want to, you want to instill good habits into your players, right?
Like that’s what we want as coaches. Well, you, you gain a little bit more traction with them when your actions and your words match up. Yeah. You know, maybe I, I’m not lacing up the shoes on Wednesday and Saturday nights to play, but I tell them they need to, or we, we say, Hey, let’s get extra shots up or Hey, your individual workouts on Tuesday, Thursdays they they’re putting in the extra work.
Well, they need to see us as a staff putting in the work too. So we need to be living a healthy lifestyle. We need to be working out. We need to be trying to get better, not just watching the film, but you know, those actions need to match up with what we’re asking of them as well. And I think that’s key to it and just the choice of what you eat every single day or whether it’s healthy or not healthy.
Like, I think that matters. And that’s a personal choice and right or wrong. I think that does that.
[00:43:58] Mike Klinzing: That’s self competition or almost that gamification of your life. I can totally relate to that. And I think if that’s something that you could instill as a coach, if you could instill that in your players, to me, I feel like that’s a trait that any player could benefit from because then you’re looking at, you’re just, you can look at so many things as I’m competing.
Against myself. And what did I, what did I do yesterday? Can I match that? Can I do even better? Can I, what’s my what’s my long-term, what’s my long-term goal. Can I get to 50,000 shots this summer, whatever whatever it is, if you can gamify it to me, that’s something that I’ve always done from the time I was a kid.
And I do think that there’s a tremendous amount of value in that. And if you can, if you can put that into your players, if you could somehow instill that in them and show them through just being by, by the way that you are just do it by example, or actually talking them through it. And if they really take it to heart, I think you’d see a lot, a lot of benefits to that, for sure.
[00:44:58] Gabe Miller: There’s a quote that I love. And I heard this a few years back from some pretty influential people in my life. And it was when you know who you are, you don’t have to worry anymore. It’s traffic. That’s like, that’s so true, right? Like it takes all any voices from social media, people saying you’re doing this wrong, or you should be doing it this way.
No, I know who I am and I am good with that. So whether you agree with the way that I work out or the way that I start my day, or, and I’m not saying you I’m just as an example, right. Or whether you think I should be eating this or whatever, like when, when I know who I am, and I’m confident in that, and I know that there’s a foundation to that.
I don’t have to worry about that. And in today’s society and today’s world, like there’s so many voices that guys are here. And I know we’ve talked about that a little bit earlier. Like they’re being drawn in so many different ways. Like they need to have a solid foundation that they can fall back into.
It’s like a boxing ring and the boxing ring there’s ropes around the ring. And that that’s about. From the a book that I’ve read before that talks about your values and who you are, or those ropes and life is going to throw you against those ropes. And are your ropes strong enough to they’re going to give a little bit, but eventually you’re going to get pushed back into the middle of the ring.
And that’s a great visual for myself. And for that we use with our guys and that I’ve talked to starting to talk with my kids about now is what are those ropes that surround your boxing ring? And you’ve got to be able to get back into the middle of the ring to be able to figure out what the next punch is that you need to throw, or you need to adjust or whatever the case is.
You know, I think that that comes back to what choices you’re making and what your habits are on a daily basis.
[00:46:52] Mike Klinzing: Absolutely, you can instill, and I’m thinking about this as much from a parent standpoint, as I have a coaching standpoint, but if you could instill in your kids that confidence to be who I am, especially when you think about the peer pressure and the, the things that kids are exposed to, whether you just think about drinking or you think about drugs, or now you think about the trouble they can get into on a phone, if you can instill in your kids that, Hey, who are you and what do you stand for and what are you all about?
And then you can allow yourself to, to float around in those circles and still understand. That’s not, that’s not me. I can be you know, I can be exposed to these things. I can be at a party and people could be drinking, but I know that that’s not something that I’m going to do. And I have the confidence to stand there and have 20 people come up to me and say, Hey, you want a beer?
You want a drink? And you can just say no, and that’s not easy. That’s not an easy level of confidence to have yourself or to instill and instill in your kids as a, as a parent. But I think that’s, to your point, those are conversations that I think anybody who’s a leader, whether you’re a leader as a parent, or you’re a leader as a coach, like that’s the type of player, kid that you want to be able to develop as one who knows who they are.
And therefore, as you said, they’re not, they’re not having to make a decision about, should I do this or shouldn’t, I already know who I am and I’m not going to, and I’m not going to do those things where I am going to do those things. When you talk about positive habits.
[00:48:19] Gabe Miller: So those are all great points for sure, for sure.
[00:48:24] Mike Klinzing: All right. Let’s jump into your first coaching job. How does it come to pass? What, what happens? How do you get, how do you break into the coaching profession?
[00:48:31] Gabe Miller: Yeah, no doubt. That’s a great question. So graduated college in may and got married in June and so two weeks bang, bang, and
I was blessed. My wife is awesome. And I’m I? Yeah, I’m, I’m the luckiest they’re out there, but so I got married and I got a job and I used my degree to become like a sports trainer specific speed agility. So I was able to do that for six months and then got real, another real job and was like a athletic director at a youth sports organization.
So I did that for two and a half years. Out of college and what I learned in that situation of how to talk to parents and how to schedule and how to run a budget. And it’s just, it’s really cool to look back and see, okay, why was I, why did we do that? And it’s just how, how it all lines up. And the, the opportunities that, that job presented itself, I thought that’s what I was going to do.
You know, the rest of my life, I, I had wanted to get away from basketball. Like we had talked about, push it aside a little bit. And then my wife kept telling me, like, you’re a coach. Like you need to get into coach and you need to get into coaching. And got a phone call one day. And this goes back to just, just how it all lines back up from making the college decision in the relationships that you build.
I got a call from Joel Cotton. He was the head coach at Judson university in Elgin, just outside of Chicago. And I had actually coach Cotton was the assistant coach at Anderson who recruited me out of high school. So the fact that I made the decision to even go to Anderson in the first place coach was there for two seasons and then he left and they moved to Chicago.
It’s just crazy how it all comes full circle. So he called me and he said he had a GA Judson’s in NAIA school small Christian school 800, 900 students. He had a GA assistant coach position and wanting to know if I’d be interested. And I’m like, yeah, like this would be awesome. And he’s like, Hey, he’s like, come up.
It’s like, bring Erica your wife up. Let’s talk about it. Visit the school, visit the campus. Let’s do this thing. Went up there and had an awesome experience talking to him, just reconnecting one. He he’s one of the, the biggest mentors of my life now, but so he was the head coach, athletic director.
The other assistant coach who was, who was leaving Jordan Dukes was there. And he was also a former player at Anderson. So I knew him. So it was really cool to reconnect with those guys, but they, they showed us around, they talked and we’re getting ready to leave. And coach is telling me, you know what the position breakdown is.
And he says you know, it’s a two year agreement and this is what it’s gonna look like, and this is what it’s going to pay. And he told us that dollar amount and that dollar amount, it didn’t, it didn’t line up. Didn’t line up with when you look at rent and what it costs to live. In the Chicago land area, it just didn’t make sense.
And, but, so we got in the car, drove home, drove the five hours back home and prayed about it and talked about it and just was like, if this is what we need to do, this is what we need to do. And it was within two, three hours of, of just talking and praying and everything that we were like, yeah, like this is it.
This is what we need to do. If it’s going to work out. I don’t know how, but this is, this is, this is what our next calling as a family and for myself selfishly needs to be. So we made the, made the decision to move up and it was the two and a half, most influential years of my life now.
And moving away from family and it was. It was awesome. And it was a school with not a lot of resources. It was a school with not a lot of recognition. And I had to get a CDL to drive the bus the games and it’s just, it’s crazy what it, what it all entailed, but the opportunity that it presented to learn and dig into it.
And that was something that coach Cotton talked about is like, you’re going to get to do scouting reports. You’re going to get to do individual workouts. You’re going to get to see a budget. You’re going to get a B you know, on the road, you’re going to get a do everything. And that was the break into coaching.
You know, I think you can go two different ways almost. You can either go to a big school and be a manager, right. And get into coaching that way, and then try to move up and get a GA position or whatever the case is. Or a lot of times, if you’re a former player. And you want to get into coaching at the division three or in AI, or even division two level and then try to work up.
And that was the route that I took because of the opportunity to play in college. And I, I wouldn’t change it because I got to dabble in everything I got to dabble and I’m still getting to, and that’s still the perk at this level is like, we get to do travel. I get to do meals. I get to do you know, individual workouts, the strength and conditioning, the academic grade checks.
You get to do so much and you just learn so much and you just have a ton of opportunity to build relationship with the staff and the other coaches and your managers and things, but just the guys as well. And you get you know, checking on their grades, but you also then get to go spot them on the bench press, and then you get to go put them through an individual workout and then you get to go talk to them during study tables.
And so that, that was the break and the opportunity to get into coaching back in 2015.
[00:54:30] Mike Klinzing: So first question is how did you make that work with the, I’ll just use the word meter. We don’t have to throw a dollar amount on it work with, how did you make that work with you and your wife? I just, how did you pull that off financially?
I’m always interested in the stories of how, how you pull that off.
[00:54:45] Gabe Miller: Yeah. I was working three jobs. Doing some early morning CrossFit training at a gym that I was able to get into and developed some good relationships with was doing then going, so was teaching 5, 6, 7 am classes going to the office after that.
And then in the evenings had the opportunity to do some training with some kids. So some individual basketball workouts. So we were just trying to figure out what, and, and when you, when you have relationships with really, really good people, I’ll be I mean, it wouldn’t be right not to say that coach cotton and just the impact that, that not just himself and his family had on us during those two and a half years, like.
We wouldn’t be here today without them. And you know, I’m very grateful for that. And you know, the people in your lives shape who you are and the impact that he had on my life is crazy to think about. And knowing that he came to a game in high school, and I remember seeing him the first time and I’m like, I don’t want to go to this school now in my life.
And just the impact that he had. It’s just, you just laugh, right? Like you just laugh and be like, this doesn’t make sense, but that’s just the beauty of life and what it all entails. And so just you scrap by you figure out ways to you get creative with your budget and you get creative with different jobs and different opportunities.
And you, you, you know exactly the food that you’re eating and you’re, you’re creating those habits and you’re doing those things. And yeah, I mean, that was the biggest thing is Just making the, the necessary choices and the necessary, I don’t like the word sacrifice, but those decisions that you have to make to be like, This is what we want to do.
So let’s do it, whatever it takes, let’s just get it done and have that mindset each and every day.
[00:56:37] Mike Klinzing: What did you love about coaching right away? Like what immediately, obviously hadn’t coached before. So you jump into it. What piece of it did you did stood out for you in that, in that first year when you’re like, man, this is, this is really what I want to do.
[00:56:49] Gabe Miller: It’s a, that program. I think that really got my itch was the practices were so competitive. We did things where no out of bounds and you know, guys just pushing and shoving and going crazy and guys dive in on balls and shoving each other in a competitive way though. Like it was, it was drawn out of this.
In a positive way to push each other and to just the energy that, that brought, like I remember college practices were maybe a little bit different five years ago when I, or when I was playing to what it looked like there, I was like, yeah, like this is it. I think when when you’re competitive, you’re competitive the rest of your life.
I don’t think you can turn that switch off and being an out of basketball for those three years after graduating and then getting back into it. It was, yeah. Like I want to be competitive. I want to lay some up and I want to jump into this practice, or I want to be competitive on the recruiting trail, or I want to be competitive in this workout or that workout and just the opportunity to, to do that and to see that.
To dive into those guys. And I remember 9:00 PM study tables and talking to them and having the conversations with those guys that I got phone calls from them from some guys on the team at Judson a couple of weeks ago, and just talking to them and hearing the stories and that’s what it, all that makes it all worth.
[00:58:16] Mike Klinzing: Absolutely. I think those relationships and have often said that those calls a year from former players and you pick up the phone and they’re like, Hey coach, I don’t think there’s anything much more meaningful than that. When you think about being able to use the game of basketball to make an impact on people’s lives.
And we all love the game and, and the opportunity that we have to use a game that has been so good to us to be able to have an impact on young people, I think is probably the most valuable thing that any of us can do as coaches. And it’s one of the most rewarding things. Those phone calls are, are awesome.
They’re awesome. All right. So after you’re there you’re two and a half years at Judson. Explain how you get to Laura’s. How do you get hooked up with Chris? And you’ve obviously been there now for what? This is your 6th year?
[00:59:04] Gabe Miller: Yep. We’re in year six now. So yeah. Yeah. So a year or two at Judson in between year one and year two, that another way to, to one make money and quote unquote network.
And I’m not a huge fan of that word either, but to network and just build relationships and to grow as a coach had the opportunity to coach AAU and got into AAU. And like, that was my first real vision of what AAU was turning into. And so was, was coaching with with a program out of Wheaton, Illinois and diving into that and got just connected with those, with that family and those individuals.
And at that time at that April, may, June timeframe the position, the head coach. Opened up and got filled and Coach Martin and I had some common connections. I, we knew each other. We now knowing who he is and the people that, that he knows and the recruits that he had, it’s just funny.
Like we never had a conversation before that. It’s just funny how we didn’t. But just, he was, he was recruiting a player after he got the job at Loris. He was recruiting the son of a, the program director and had the opportunity. They threw my name out there and to him and by the grace of God and just Goodwill, I don’t know why he gave me a phone call and I don’t know what I said, or maybe other guys picked it up.
I don’t know. But came up on a, on a interview with him and his energy and passion. And I just remember leaving the interview and leaving the conversation and calling my wife and being like. That dude gets it. Like that guy is passionate. That guy is energetic. He’s crazy, but he has a vision. He knows what he wants.
And if there’s just a brief moment that he’s even thinking about offering it to me in a conversation the next time I’m not going to let him even think twice and I’m going to take it. And and that was a, that was a turning point. And I am grateful to this day for that. And what that opportunity presented itself.
[01:01:13] Mike Klinzing: And you think about the time that you’ve been with Chris, what are some things that you take away that one you think has. Led to the success that you guys been able to have been able to have. And then to, to go along with that, what are some things that if at some point you were to get an opportunity to be a head coach, some things that you’ve taken from him that you will take with you for the rest of your coaching career.
So I guess what, what leads to your success and then what do you think you’re going to take with you if you ever get an opportunity to, to have your own program? Yeah, for sure.
[01:01:45] Gabe Miller: I think you know, I think any, any assistant, like, you need to learn as much, right? Like you need to be able to suggest, you need to be able to add some value.
You need to be able to take the workload off your head coach as much as possible, and you need to add value to the program, but you also need to sit back and you need to learn as well. Like he’s, he’s in that chair for a reason. He has put the time in, he has earned that position and I coach Martin is.
I I’ve said this before. And I, and I say this quite often, and he is one of the greatest leaders I’ve ever seen and it’s done maybe differently than what people see or what people think or whatever the case is, but he is able to build a relationship he’s able to get you to buy in. He’s able to hold you accountable.
He’s able to motivate you. He’s able to tip you over, but he’s able to pull you back up and he can do that with the best player on our team and the worst player on our team. And I think that his definition of a great leader, if you can do all those sometimes, a head coach can be a Motivator and, but he can’t have a good relationship.
Well, sometimes you can have a good relationship, but you can’t be a motivator. And sometimes you’re, you’re too much of a friend and sometimes you’re, you’re too crazy or whatever the case is, an awesome job of blending, those two things. And that’s, that’s such an awesome thing to see day in and day out the way that he communicates.
And I’m blessed to be alongside of him and to help him out however I can. But those are some things that he probably doesn’t know that he’s teaching me or that he’s doing, but those are some of the strongest traits that I think a leader can possess, whether you’re a coach or whether you’re a fortune 500 company owner or you’re the CEO of this business, or you’re a dad or whatever the case is, if you can find different ways to motivate, to inspire, to build a relationship, to hold the person accountable.
I think that encompasses everything that you could, you could see and you could do. And I think that’s key and those are some of the strongest things that you can do.
[01:04:16] Mike Klinzing: I have conversations. Do you ask him about, Hey, how do you, how do you do that? How do you motivate, how do you become a leader? Are those conversations.
You guys are having together about how that’s done or is it more something of you’re watching, you’re observing, you’re trying to pick up the cues of things that he’s doing and seeing, I’m just curious as to how that, how you, how you approach that. And obviously there’s probably a little bit of both in there, but just, I’m just curious about how that relationship when you guys are sitting in the coach’s office, what are those conversations look like in terms of you learning from him and, and, and those kinds of those types of conversations?
[01:04:57] Gabe Miller: For sure. I think, I think it’s more so an organic conversation than it is. Hey coach, how do you hold this guy accountable? Or what do you think he, or whatever the case is, like, I think it’s more organic it’s he is such a driven and passionate and he wants to win at all costs.
Right? Like to, to an extent don’t get me wrong on that, but. He wants to do that. And be one of the most successful programs, like we, we say it all the time. We want to, we want to run a division one program at the division three level. And we want, our end goal is to win a national championship.
Like that’s what we say, but we also realize as coaches, there’s, there’s a lot more into that. Like we just talked about getting phone calls from former players and having a Snapchat group of former players or having text messages from other, from former players like that, that’s all in alignment.
And I think if you can narrow down your focus and you can eliminate the noise from the outside and coach does a good job of this, of like, what’s. You know, what are the five most important things in my life and to see him take 30 minutes and have his kids come and eat lunch with him, or after a game, the kids are running on the floor or whatever the case is, but also seeing him at practice holding the guy accountable because he didn’t close out with the right hand or whatever the case is.
Like you, I get to see that as, as examples right. In front of my eyes. And that’s, that’s I think more valuable because those are the words in his actions matching up to what he wants to be in the type of coach that he wants to be and the type of father that he wants to be. And then those are, that can then lead into conversation in the office of like, Hey what was going through your mind when, when you said this to him or maybe he says, Hey Gabe, how would you handle this situation?
Or what are your thoughts on this type of guy? Or what should we say to him? Or how can we motivate this guy? You know, the 15 guys on our team or however many that is each guy is going to be motivated differently and eat. Some guys need yelled at and some guys need to be caught a little bit and you have to be able to know who they are, but also almost throw darts at them and not more symbolic than anything, but like, let’s try this.
Okay. That didn’t work. Let’s try this. Okay. That didn’t work. Let’s try this. Okay. That didn’t work. Let’s try this one. And eventually, hopefully that dart sticks and you learn the darts by. I learning by talking by reading, by listening to others. And I think that’s something that he does really well is also is he’s, he’s digging into books, he’s digging into podcasts.
He’s applying things that he’s learning and saying, Hey, let’s try this drill or let’s do this, or let’s do this leadership book or this let’s do this, whatever the case is just seeing the example that he sets I think is, is more organic than just sitting down and saying, Hey coach, how’d you hold this guy accountable?
Or what, what were you thinking here? Right.
[01:08:00] Mike Klinzing: You see situations that occur and then you’re having conversations and you’re talking it through. And in the course of doing that, that’s how you’re picking up. And I’m sure just like you’re learning from him. I’m sure he’s learned from you in terms of just having those ideas, be able to bounce back and forth off of each other.
To me, I think that’s, those are always valuable conversations I used to love. That’s probably one of the things I miss most about. Coaching a team anymore. You know, when I was a high school assistant, you just sitting in the coaches office after practice or after a game and just talking about, Hey, this guy, or, Hey, what could we have done differently here?
Or just those are the conversations where you really grow and you learn. And you think about the time that you’ve been there. How have your, how have your responsibilities changed if they have at all, since you first got there, have you gotten more responsibility, different responsibilities? Has your role shifted in any way?
Just talk a little bit about the evolution of your position there.
[01:08:51] Gabe Miller: I think coming in it was an awesome opportunity as a younger coach working with a first year head coach with coach Martin and being able to, to see, to help build a program from the ground up, right? Like the, the school is an awesome.
Isn’t it awesome location has all others, very, very successful athletics programs and the school was set up to be successful. And you know, I think that’s a key thing in jobs and everything is the type of resources or whatever the case is like. It, it was really cool and it’s been awesome over six years to see our, our commitment and our values and things that we talked about in, in meeting number one as a staff and sitting down at a Starbucks in the Chicago land area and talking recruiting with him and just seeing the evolution and the development of a program from day one.
And I’ve been blessed to, for, for him to give me different jobs. Over the course and whether that’s in charge of recruiting or the recruiting coordinator that’s kind of the, the role that, that I was able to take on from day one of the database and the contacts and Hey coach, you should go see this guy, or we need to see this guy, or this is where we’re at with that, or whatever the case is.
And developing that along with the strength and conditioning and a long with game planning and Scouts and, and everything. And I think over, over the course of six years, any, any good, and I’m not saying I’m good whatsoever. There are many, many better, better assistant coaches than I am, but any, any good assistant, no matter what job you’re in, you start to learn your head coach and you start to learn I know.
I know what coach wants to see right. Too, to an extent, I know the type of things that you know, he’s going to be like, no, I don’t like that. Or I like this, or you should put it here. Hey, what font is that? Right. It’s crazy. Right. like and I, over six years you learn those tendencies and I think it, you develop trust.
And you know, if, if I keep turning in a scatte report, that’s in times new Roman and I do that for six years and coach’s like, no, change the font to this. Like, this is what the font needs to be. And you know, if I’m not doing that, I’m not doing my job. I’m not learning and growing and being like, I’m not making his job easier.
And I think that’s where. You know, I’ve been able to adapt as well and, and being like, okay, he needs this. Okay, I’m going to give that to him or he needs this or he wants this. Okay. I’m going to do that. And I think that’s what develops that trust that then he says, okay now, okay, you did that scouting report.
I trust you 100%. Let’s go with that game plan. You know, I think early on no matter what the relationship is like, maybe you might be a little bit weary of, of you know, this decision or that decision, or he thinks of this, or he thinks that, but you know, when, when you can prove your, your intentions are pure and your, your values are right I think that’s key in, in developing that trust in him believe in, in me that at the end of the day, my heart.
For our program to be successful for him as a head coach to be successful. That that’s my end goal. It’s not, I want to be the best assistant coach. No, it’s like, I want this program to be awesome. Like that’s, that’s all I care about. I care about the guys in the program. I care about coach Martin and his family.
And I think that’s a, that’s a key factor in what he’s been. He’s allowed me to grow and develop as an assistant coach.
[01:12:54] Mike Klinzing: So if you were to give advice, let’s say you’re talking to somebody who was in your position from. 7 8, 9 years ago when you’re first starting out your career. And right now, if you could tell somebody what’s the key or keys to being a successful assistant coach, you kind of just told the story, but maybe put them into one or two key bullet points that you think, Hey, if you want to be a great assistant coach, these are the things that you need to do.
And I could probably guess what they are based off what you just said, but I’m curious just to have you kind of lay them out.
[01:13:31] Gabe Miller: Yeah, I would say the first one is, and I told coach on the interview and when, and I, and I remember, and I, and I tell him this often is he said is we were getting ready to finalize the, the conversation.
And I was getting ready to walk out of the office. He said, is there anything else you do you want to stay? And I say, coach, I said, I can promise you every day, I’m going to be loyal and I’m going to have energy. Those two things. I might not be the best person to make a scatter report. I might not be the best individual workout person, but I can promise you, I will be 100% loyal to you as a head coach.
And I will bring 100% energy every day. And that’s something that is a value to me. Right? And I think that’s key at, in, in a younger coach or whoever in this profession, like if you can be loyal and that comes back to when you know who you are, you don’t have to worry anymore. You know what your values are, you know what your head coach value, and you can have energy.
I think that sets you apart. I think if you can build that type of relationship with people, and you’re true to that, you’re true to your values. I think that is a lost trait almost in today’s society is that loyalty and that energy for a common purpose, I think that.
[01:14:51] Mike Klinzing: Let’s dive into, let’s dive into that loyalty piece, because I think one of the things that I’ve said this once or twice in the podcast, but when I was an assistant coach, I worked for the same head coach, the high school level for 12, 13 years, and many years after that, he came to me, we were having a conversation.
He said, the one thing that I always knew is that you have my back no matter what, and you were completely loyal. And I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a more I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a compliment that made me feel better about what I had done in any walk of life, probably than that one. It was, it was more meaningful than just about anything I’ve ever heard.
But a lot of times we hear that word loyalty toss around and we say, oh yeah, we gotta be coaches, assistant coaches need to be loyal. What does that mean in your mind when you hear that word? What does that entail?
[01:15:39] Gabe Miller: I think the brunt of that, and when when I say I’m loyal to him and I’m loyal to this program, Like I’m all in like every decision the fact that I know what I’m eating every single day, or I know that I need to get a good night’s sleep, or I know what I’m telling this recruit.
Every decision that I make is for the program and for coach and to, to move in the, in the direction, moving forward. You know, am I going to agree with every decision that is made? No, but that doesn’t mean I need to bad mouth him behind his back. Kind of like what you were talking about. Like, I respect him at the end of the day he’s gonna make that final decision, but I think the, the words that I use or the choices that I make that that’s going to align with, okay, are you truly loyal or not?
Like, are you doing this behind my back? Are you what are you telling the guys? You know, do you. Coach got all me at practice. And the guys texting you later that night, like, what are you saying? Like, are you agreeing with the player? Are you agreeing with coach? Are you saying coach was wrong or whatever the case is, like, whose whose side?
And I’m not saying you have to pick a side, but like you have to know the intent of your, your head coach’s heart, and you have to know what the, what the meaning behind his decision was. And you have to be all in on that. And it’s just like any relationship, whether it’s marriage, whether it’s a head coach, assistant coach, whether it’s you know boss at, at another job, like you have to know that the extent that the intent of his heart was pure, right.
That he made the decision based on the facts that he had and the feelings that he had and the experiences that he had. And you have to go all in with it and you have to trust that he made that decision. Because he thought that’s what the program needed. And I thought that was a big thing. When it comes to developing loyalty over the course of each and every day,
[01:17:49] Mike Klinzing: That’s a really good answer. And I think when people would ask me about that, I would always come at it in a similar fashion. In that I kind of looked at it where there might be a disagreement behind closed doors. I might be able to have a conversation with my head coach and say, Hmm, I don’t know if I think of this, or maybe we should try that.
But ultimately, as you said, the head coach is the decision maker and they make the decision that is best for the program and their mind at that given moment. And then my job as assistant coaches, as soon as I walk out of that coach’s office, that decision was not only I had coaches, but that decision was my decision.
And anybody who asked me about that decision, whether it’s. Coach from another school, whether it’s a player, whether it’s a parent, whether it’s an administrator, I’m a hundred percent supportive and behind that decision, I’m not like, well, I wouldn’t have done that. Yeah, that was, yeah. That was a really I don’t know what he was thinking there.
And then the, I think the last piece of it too is, and, and I I’ve never coached at the college level, so I don’t know how prevalent this is or isn’t, but your stories, a lot of the high school level that, because you don’t have as much control at a lot of cases in your high school, over who’s on your staff, whether that’s sometimes you might be able to get one person in is your varsity assistant, but you know, the JV coach may be this person, or maybe you got somebody from outside the building, it’s a freshmen coach and I’ve heard way too many stories of coaches that somebody gets hired as the ninth grade coach and suddenly the.
Bad mouth and the head coach, the parents and their start, they start angling for the job. And so I always looked at loyalty. In addition to what we just talked about was I’m not trying to get, I’m not trying to get your job and nobody’s ever going to think that that’s what I’m, that’s what I’m trying to do.
You will never hear any whispers of a Mike’s trying to go after that job. You know, he’s just, he’s just waiting for this guy to make a mistake or whatever, or man, he’s not doing a good job. I should be the guy I could do so much better telling parents and those kinds of things. And it’s just, I think, loyalty people on the outside hear it and they don’t always understand it.
I think you did. I think you did a really good job of clarifying for people, what that, what that means and, and how important it is. I think it’s so important to you as an assistant coach. And I just think the value that that provides to a head coach, you can’t even put it into words.
[01:20:02] Gabe Miller: Yup. And I think I, from that, from the outside in, and we, we, we hit on this earlier and the voices that people hear.
You know, the comparison and for, for our personality, that in our program specifically here at Loras, we’re very energetic. We’re very outspoken. We’re very just like, let’s get it right. And from the outside, we probably, at times will rub people the wrong way. Right. Because whether it’s whether it’s coach Martin, whether it’s me or whether it’s our players on the floor, like we’ll rub people the wrong way.
And I think that’s okay at, in athletics. Like if you’re always doing something if, if everybody always likes you, right. There’s that quote like, then right. You know, and I think that’s, that goes back to loyalty is like, if coach rubbed somebody the wrong way for our program, because he’s standing up or he’s being who he is.
I know what is, what the intent was. I know why he did that. I know why he’s clapping and getting excited on the sideline. I know why he’s standing up for our guys. I know why, because, because of the decisions that he’s doing in the office day in and day out and the voices and the people on the outside, don’t see that.
And I think that’s a, that goes back to the loyalty is like, I’ve got your back coach. Like, let’s go, like, I know why we’re doing this. I know who we are. I know why we’re doing that. And that’s, that’s the most important part of it all. Of it.
[01:21:37] Mike Klinzing: And I think another thing that kind of goes along with that is like our program may not be for you.
You know what I mean? I think there’s, there’s something to be said for that. When you think about whether it’s business or you’re listening to podcasts, you read about, Hey you, you may, you may not like this particular thing. Well guess what it wasn’t made for you. It’s made for, it’s made for the people who are in our building every day or on our practice floor.
That’s what we’re here for. And we can’t really make everybody else happy. And I think it’s, I had a coach one time tell me a long time ago that you got to make decisions where when you go to bed at night, you can put your head down on the pillow and know that you made the right decision. For you for your team, for your players and you can’t worry about the outside influences because if you do, you’re never going to make anyone else happy.
You’re never going to make everyone happy. So if you try to, if you try to make everyone happy, you’re just going to be unhappy. So make a decision that you know is the right one, that you can be happy with that when you go and lay down at night and put your head on the pillow that you can live with it.
I think there’s, there’s something to be said for that. It’s hard. It’s hard to do sometimes. It’s hard not to want to please everybody, but ultimately I think the people who are the most successful are the ones who believe in their vision and believe in what they’re doing. And then they go forward with that and they don’t let the outside influences affect the decisions that they’re making, because they’ve put together.
As you said, they’ve planned, they understand the why behind the decisions that they’re making.
[01:23:09] Gabe Miller: Yeah, that’s good. That’ll preach right there, brother. That’s good.
[01:23:17] Mike Klinzing: Well, I appreciate it. Hey, I want to wrap up, we’re getting to it’s almost 11:30 your time. I know you want to get a good night’s sleep and you want to get up and get your coffee going tomorrow.
So I want to give you one more final two-part question. When you think about the next year or two, what’s the biggest challenge that you have in front of you, and then number two, when you think about what you get to do every day, what brings you the most joy about getting up in the morning and going into your office there Loras?
[01:23:41] Gabe Miller: Yeah, I think that those are two really, really good questions and kinda the, the first part the biggest challenge, and I think this is for coaches or for anybody is eliminating distractions, right? Like I think we’re, we’re in a crucial part of, of society and athletics or whatever the case is that there are so many things out there.
Trying to get our attention. Like they’re digging into us and they’re pinging us on our phone and they’re emailing us or whatever the case is. Like they are trying to distract us and everything that I’m reading and learning and digging into right now is how do you eliminate those things? And I think that’s a, that’s a challenge, right?
Whether it’s putting a time limit on certain apps on your phone, or blocking this website or turning your phone off at this certain time that the day or whatever the case is, I think that’s a challenge. And I think that’s comes back to. Who you are and why you do what you do is can you eliminate the unnecessary things in your life?
And when you can eliminate those things and you can focus on two or three things like you can set yourself up for success. And I think that’s key and kind of going into, into part two about what that was the biggest joy, biggest joy each and every day is one waking up and seeing my two boys that that’s a joy and having them running around the gym and everything, but showing up everyday at Loras it’s like day one over and over again, like I get excited, you know?
Yeah. Maybe we lose this game, but to, to show up the next day and to say, Hey, what do we need to do to get better today? And I think that’s a, that’s a key component to who I am as an individual, but also who our program is and the opportunity to work with coach Martin and just Loras administration from the top down is how can we get better?
What can we do to serve our players? What can we do to serve the community? What can we do to serve this program, to get to where we want to be, not just today, but tomorrow, and to set it up for sustainability over the course of the next 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 years, whoever knows how long, but doing it day in and day out.
I think that’s a, that’s a joy when you have a firm foundation for who you are and why you do what you do going in to work early and staying in late, it that’s a choice and that’s a, that’s an easy choice to make. When you, when you know who you are,
[01:26:17] Mike Klinzing: Getting to success is hard and maintaining success is even harder.
And I think that what you just described fits that bill perfectly, that you got to keep putting in the work every single day to get you, get you to where you want to go. Before we wrap up, I want to give you a chance to share how can people reach out to you? How can they find out more about what you guys are doing at Loris?
You want to share social media, email, whatever you want to put out there. And then after you do that, I’ll jump back in and wrap it up.
[01:26:44] Gabe Miller: Perfect. Yeah. I’m not, not huge on social media. I’m on Twitter @CoachGabeMiller. I’m on there a little bit. You can follow us on Loras men’s basketball, social media @DuHawkMBB you can find all of our contact information on our website as well, but yeah, shoot me a DM or a cell phone is (812) 374-7558. If anybody wants to call or text talk, whatever would love to love to chat and build a relationship.
[01:27:16] Mike Klinzing: Gabe cannot thank you enough for taking the time out of your schedule for staying up late with me tonight.
Really appreciate it. It’s been a lot of fun to dive into a lot of different topics with you tonight. We got into some parenting stuff and I always love getting into some of the entrepreneurial and habit type stuff that I like to listen to when I’m not listening to the basketball podcast. So that was a lot of fun for me.
Again, really appreciate it. And to everyone out there. Thanks for listening. And we will catch you on our next episode. Thanks!