Joe Miller is retiring from Southeast Lauderdale after 24 seasons as girls' head basketball coach. Photo by Lindsey Hall
One of the best basketball coaches in Mississippi history is stepping down.
After almost a quarter of a century at Southeast Lauderdale High School, Joe Miller has decided the time is right for him to retire. He departs Southeast with a legacy of winning championships, and he's doing it so he can watch his own grandchildren play the game he loves.
“I guess the main factor is my grandkids getting older,” said Miller. “I've got one playing high school [basketball] at West Lauderdale and one playing at Madison Central and I just want to see them play more. That's probably the main factor.
Southeast Lauderdale is the only high school that Joe Miller has ever coached. He took over the team in 1990 and quickly turned the Lady Tigers into one of the most successful programs in Mississippi. He's taken 12 teams to the state final four in Jackson, MS, winning four state championships and finishing runner-up twice.
“If I've had any success, it’s mainly because of the players that worked so hard for me and who had an awful lot of talent.”
Miller has coached athletes who went on to play in college. Some of the names include Monique Horner, Lucy Ruffin, Tiawana Pringle and Pashen Thompson. He’s coached nine All-Stars and two Clarion-Ledger players of the year.
“Certainly the state championships and getting to the Coliseum quite a bit has been fun, but I love seeing my kids go to college and playing college ball and graduating,’ said Miller. “That's probably my highest point.”
Off the court, Miller is a soft-spoken, mild-mannered grandfather of nine, but on the court, he's known for his fiery disposition and furious floor-coaching style.
“I guess my motor is running too much sometimes, but I leave it on the court. I'm kind of a fighter on the court,” said Miller. “When it's over, it's over and back to myself. You better wake up
So after 612 wins, 56 tournament titles, four state crowns and numerous coaching awards, joe miller says it's time to step down. Miller made Southeast into a winner, but it’s the relationships he built with his athletes that he’ll miss the most.
“I’ll miss being around the kids most. I'll miss game day. It's fun. I think I'll miss the kids more than anything.”
Miller even admitted that he’ll make the occasional appearance at Southeast Lauderdale.
“When my grandkids are not playing, I'll be there watching.”