Renowned speaker will be in Tuolumne

By The Union Democrat Sports Department August 23, 2012 09:22 pm
Editor’s note—Rob Miller, 49, of Liberty, MO., is a nationally renown motivational speaker who specializes in helping kids reach their maximum potential through sports.

Miller was team captain on his Spring Arbor (Michigan) College basketball team and then later its coach. He has also coached high school girls’ and boys’ basketball. He served as commissioner of the Sun Conference (NAIA) and later spent eight years with the NAIA as Director for its Champions of Character program.

Miller now runs his own motivational program entitled “Character Based Athletics.”

On Saturday, Sept. 15, Miller will present his program for the benefit of athletes, parents and coaches in the theater at Summerville High School.

There will be three one-hour presentations: one for parents, another for student-athletes and the third for coaches.The entire cost is $15 per person. The program is for students in 8th grade and up. The fee for a family of three is $40 (and $5 for each additional family member).

The session for parents begins at 2 p.m.; athletes 3:30 p.m. and coaches 5 p.m. The Summerville Bears softball program is sponsoring this event.

For more information or tickets call Ray Emerald at 984-4335 or Ron Berry at 532-2222. Tickets are available at Sonora and Summerville High Schools.

Miller talked with sports reporter Allan Mandell last week via phone.

UD: What is the main objective of the program you’ll be bringing to Tuolumne on Sept. 15?

RM: We try to get coaches, athletes and parents to all work together. We want the kids to gain knowledge and reach their potential. We want the athletes and their teammates to have answers to the questions, “How can we reach our maximum potential? How can we make the right choices every day?”

UD: Do you have specific points you want the parents to take away from your presentation?

RM: We do. We understand the role parents have in athletics. There are ways they can make the whole athletic experience a positive one. It’s all based on what the kids have said to us throughout the years. It’s a very direct but very fun presentation. One specific message we want to get across: Remember it’s your child’s experience, not yours.

UD: With regards to coaches, is this open to high school, elementary and recreational coaches?

RM: Yes. We work with two different types of coaches. There’s the “career coaches,” those who coach in junior high, high school and college. And then there is the “youth coaches.” We talk to the coaches about their opportunity to make an impact on the athletes. We want to go beyond the Xs and Os. We call it “positive demanding.” As a coach, you should want to be a part of creating the great memories. You don’t want to be part of making bad memories.

To give you an example, with the “career coaches,” we’ll sometimes ask them to write down the names of their three most talented kids. Then we have them write down the names of their three kids with the most character. And we define character as “Who makes the best decisions based on effort and behavior?” Then we have the coaches look at their list. Are the names the same on both lists? Not too often.

So, how do you teach kids to make the best decisions with regards to effort and behavior? That’s critical.

UD: What led you to take your own program across the nation?

RM: We saw that there was such a huge need for this. Plus, coaches, communities and parents kept asking for it. We still do work with the NAIA.

But it’s important to note that 74 percent of all kids are done playing sports by the age of 13. So we realized we had to reach them, their coaches and parents long before college. And we kept asking, “How can we make a deeper impact?” And ultimately I realized the key to that was talking to kids at a younger level, as young as youth sports.

UD: Is there a religious-based theme to this program?

RM: My business partner and I are both Christians. It’s not something we’d shy away from if asked about it.  But we’re not affiliated with any one religious group. We want to talk to parents, kids and coaches of all religious beliefs. 

UD: How did you and Ray Emerald hook up to bring this program here?

RM: It’s funny ... I’ve talked to Ray so much and that’s something I’ve never even asked him. I do know that he did a lot of research and he asked me a lot of questions about our program and then he said to me straight out, “What you have is exactly what is needed here.”

Ray is incredibly organized and excited about our program. I have two other scheduled programs before Sept. 15 and neither of those sponsors are anywhere nearly as prepared and ready to go as Ray already is. Ray is way ahead of both of those other programs.

UD: Ultimately, what can the student-athlete expect to take away from your program?

RM: There are two things we really focus on. The first is the choices they each make every single day. It is not your talent that will decide if you reach your potential — it’s your choices.

And then we focus on leadership. There are tons of talented and great kids in our nation out there today. When I say “leadership,” I don’t mean they need to be a captain of their team — just a leader in making great choices.

Ultimately, we want them to have no regrets with regards to their athletic experiences.