December 31, 2023

40 Under 40: James “Jay” Miller, 37

1.7 min read| Published On: December 31st, 2023|

By Akers Editorial

40 Under 40: James “Jay” Miller, 37

1.7 min read| Published On: December 31st, 2023|

James “Jay” Miller, 37

Occupation: Head Softball Coach, Adjunct Professor at Lake-Sumter State College, Author and Owner of SideArm Softball Academy, Leesburg

What I do: I’m in charge of an NJCAA DII college softball program and 23 student athletes. This includes recruiting, budgeting for the program, field maintenance, mental wellness for my student-athletes. I also serve as a mentor for my young ladies.

How I got here: I was a college baseball player when I tore my elbow and couldn’t play ball during the summer. My father asked me to coach his summer team and at the end of August, I realized this was what I wanted to do. I began coaching at the travel ball level in 2007, then at the collegiate level in 2013.

Why my players are my passion: I love my players. We don’t talk about winning games in our program, we just talk about getting better each day. I teach them transitional skills that they will use for the rest of their lives. Having the opportunity to help these young adults mature, grow and develop as human beings means way more to me than anything we could ever accomplish on the field. They are my why and I love doing what I do every single day.

Notable achievement: We had our best season in program history in 2023, winning a program record 43 games on our way to our first-ever conference and regional championships. We had the Region VIII Player of the Year and Pitcher of the Year as well. I also received Conference and Regional Coach of the Year honors. That being said, my greatest accomplishment is getting to see former players be successful once they leave LSSC and enter the real world. I have one former player who is an officer in the Marine Corps. She is among the 4.3% of officers in the Marines who are women. I have had multiple nurses, many players that are now moms and several players that have gone on to coach softball at different levels. Seeing them be successful is why I keep coming back.

Words of wisdom: Rather than focusing on outcomes, focus on the process. Follow your efforts. Your efforts will lead you to what you should be doing.

Off the field: I love being with my family. I also collect baseball cards and build farmhouse dinner tables in my garage.

Life after 40: I want to spread my message and help other coaches achieve success without winning being a top priority. To make the person rather than the player a priority, it would improve the mental health of college athletes.

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