Longtime Jacksonville soccer coach Dave Miller really wanted his Cardinals to get in their regular-season opener at White Oak, despite inclement weather threating to spoil the fixture.
Miller was certainly excited to see how his side would do in the season’s first match Tuesday night, but deep down he also knew this may be the last time he coached on the pitch of the Cardinals’ rival.
“With the weather, I was really hoping to get it in because you just don’t know if you have a chance to make it up,” he said. “It’s an early season game so you just don’t know if we could squeeze it in later in the season.”
The ball was indeed kicked off and the Cardinals defeated White Oak 4-1 in the first game of Miller’s farewell tour.
Miller, who turns 57 later this month, has announced that this fall will be his last season coaching the Jacksonville boys’ soccer team as he will retire as a social studies teacher and coach at the end of the school year.
He previously stepped down as the girls’ soccer coach after the 2019 spring season but has remained as one of Jacksonville’s athletic directors. Miller is just the second all-time boys’ and girls’ soccer head coach in school history.
The decision to retire for good, however, is something that Miller has thought about for a while.
“This year is my 30th year teaching and I kind of promised (assistant coach Joey Mahouchick) that I would get Nate (Mahouchick) and the guys through,” Miller said. “But it is time. I want to enjoy retirement a little bit.”
Miller is the second big-name area soccer coach to announce his retirement at the end of the school year. Swansboro’s Doug Kidd announced his retirement last week.
“Doug and I have talked about it the last couple of years,” Miller said. “We both pretty much knew this would be it.”
Following Tuesday’s victory, Miller is 792-225-77 overall as a head coach. In 22 years, he is 379-110-29 as the boys’ coach and was 413-115-48 in 24 seasons as the girls’ coach. Miller coached the Jacksonville boys’ team to NCHSAA 3-A state championships in 2005 and 2012 and state finals trips in 2006, 2008, 2013 and 2022.
The JHS boys’ squad also advanced to the East Regional final every year from 2005 to 2014 with return trips in 2019 and last year.
Miller said the Cardinals’ expectations remain high during his final season.
“It is the same as it always has been,” he said. “I want the boys to show steady improvement and keep doing what we are doing and hopefully hit out stride in the playoffs, which is what we did last year. I want them to continue the tradition and when I leave, I want them to continue it on.”
Miller credits others for that tradition.
“Jacksonville is a great place because the people are awesome and I have bene blessed to have a lot of good kids and amazing assistant coaches,” he said. “It all goes back to the kids and the assistant coaches who have carried this thing on.”
Chris Miller can be contacted via email at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @jdnsports.