After the tumultuous season Arcadia High football had last year, it seemed like a dark cloud was following the team around. However, brighter skies are up ahead as the Titans welcome their newest member, Coach Vance Miller, for the upcoming football season.
Miller started coaching football in 1994 at Saguaro High School as the freshmen defensive coordinator. Before coming to Arcadia High, he was the head coach at Apache Junction High from 2014-19, and the school’s defensive coordinator before that. Miller has been the JV head coach at Desert Mountain and the varsity defensive line and strength coach at Paradise Valley High School. He has also coached Pop Warner as well as middle and high school track.
Miller was born in Phoenix and moved around quite a bit, as his father was in the Air Force. He lived in Oklahoma, Germany, Texas and California before moving back to Phoenix in fifth grade. Growing up, Miller had a very active childhood. He started playing soccer at six years old in Germany, continuing in Texas and Phoenix, and playing at Saguaro through his sophomore year.
He ran track until his junior year of high school, participating in relays and throwing shot put. He was also a wrestler and a baseball player, and he played football in middle school and high school, and then for the former Arizona Football League’s Scottsdale Thunder semi-pro team for three years.
“I didn’t know I wanted to be a coach until I received a call from Saguaro Athletic Director Bob Keller the summer of 1994 asking me to join the freshmen staff. I was hooked,” Miller said. “The relationships I make with the players and their families are unparalleled. It’s amazing to watch the kids grow up into responsible adults and know I had a little something to do with it.”
Miller said that when it comes to coaching, he lives by a motto that he also teaches to athletes: “Don’t get by, get better.”
“I want them to constantly think about how they can improve their lives in the classroom, on the field, and at home,” he said. “I want them to respect their families, friends, and most importantly, themselves. I don’t want them to settle for average or complacency. I want them always to view challenges and obstacles in life as opportunities.”
Miller said that he has to remind himself at times that he’s working with kids.
“Most things in football that we as coaches look at as second nature is all new for them. We always get back to basics, no matter how old they are,” he said. “We strive to perfect the fundamentals because fundamentals never change. Then we can build from there.”
The season doesn’t start until the end of July, but Miller said that because football in Arizona has become very competitive, athletes should stay in-tune and in-shape year-round.
“At first glance, there looks to be a good number of athletes at the varsity level, so I’m excited to see how much football they know,” Miller said. He also wants to invest time into the lower levels to build the foundation of the program and increase participation.
When he’s not on the field, Miller likes to spend time with friends and family and attend festivals and sporting events.
One of his favorite childhood memories is when his dad would take him to the Raiders’ games in Los Angeles. “I loved watching Bo Jackson and Marcus Allen run the ball!” Miller said.