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Atmore native inducted into sports HOF

Atmore native Earl Miller was inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame on Monday night in Montgomery.

Miller was a part of the Class of 2016 at the banquet, which was hosted by the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) and the Alabama High School Athletic Directors and Coaches Association (AHSADCA).

Miller was one of 11 inducted into the HOF.

“It’s really a great honor, especially coming from your pears and the governing association over sports in the state,” Miller said.

Miller graduated from Escambia County High School in 1971, and was a three-sport athlete. Right after graduation, he signed with the Cincinnati Reds and played one year in the rookie Gulf Coast League. He then attended Troy University and graduated in 1976 with a bachelor’s degree in physical education and biology.

He was hired as head baseball coach at Ashford Academy, where he stayed for two years. Miller then had assistant coaching stints at Houston County High School and Pensacola High School.

After a brief stint outside of coaching, Miller returned to the profession he loved in 1991, when he was hired at G.W. Long High School, teaching physical education and science. He was also the head baseball coach at the Wiregrass school until 2005.

During his time at GWLHS, Miller’s teams won 10 state championships, including six in a row; and reached the state playoffs in 14 of his 16 years. Upon his retirement, Miller had an overall record of 407-133.

While a coach, Miller earned a bunch of individual honors, including being named 2000 Section 3 Coach of the Year by the National Federation of High School Associations (NFHS). He was selected Alabama Sports Writers Association Coach of the Year three times, the Alabama Baseball Coaches Association and South Central Alabama Conference Coach of the Year six times, and the AHSADCA Coach of the Year 10 times.

Miller said he got into coaching because he played sports all of his life.

“My dad had coached me through the little league sports,” he said. “I went on after high school and played pro ball. After a couple of years, I decided to become a teacher and got into coaching.”

Miller said of all of his championships, winning the title with his three sons — Drew, Wade and Clay (who came back from a four-wheeler accident that almost took his life) — played on the same team in 1998.

What helped him in his success while a coach was learning a lot about discipline, Miller said.

Miller lives in Ozark and is married to Rita (Vickery). Both Rita and Earl’s mothers — Ruth and Patsy — are still living and live in Atmore.