Adam Miller always told himself he’d never take a head coaching job just for the sake of being a head coach.
It would require the perfect position for him to leave the Gainesville High baseball program, where he has been an assistant since 2004. Even as opportunities to take head coaching gigs elsewhere came across his desk, Miller stuck with the Red Elephants until he found the right fit.
On Tuesday, his loyalty and patience were reciprocated.
Miller was named Gainesville’s baseball coach for 2018-19, a promotion to replace current coach Jeremy Kemp following this season. Kemp will finish the year with the Red Elephants before taking over the program at new South Hall school Cherokee Bluff when it opens in 2018.
The Gainesville City School system officially introduced Miller alongside new football coach Heath Webb at its board meeting Tuesday.
“This is very exciting,” he said. “Gainesville is such a special place. In my mind, it’s one of the top programs in the state. The expectations here are high, of course, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
He helped set such lofty standards, after all.
A Red Elephants assistant for 15 seasons, Miller has played a key role in the program’s continued success following a string of five state titles in seven years (1996-2002) under former coach Wayne Vickery. Miller started while Vickery was in charge and remained on staff when Gainesville promoted Kemp to head coach — another in-house hire — for the 2009 season.
Miller, who currently serves as pitching coach, had a hand in the Red Elephants reaching the state semifinals three times from 2012-2015, a dominant run they capped with a Game 3 loss in the Class 5A state championship series.
For his efforts during that run to the state championship series, Georgia Dugout Club named Miller its 2015 Assistant Coach of the Year.
“He deserved it more than that one year,” Kemp said.
No wonder that when rumors of Kemp’s departure began circulating, Gainesville athletic director Adam Lindsey immediately considered Miller for the position.
“He was honestly an easy hire,” Lindsey said. “When a program has that much success, it makes sense to hire from within. He’s so committed to the school, and he has the knowledge and relationships with the players to keep Gainesville’s success going.”
Kemp shared Lindsey’s faith in his assistant coach, voicing a vote of confidence to the athletic director and encouraging Miller to apply for the position.
“I know this is something he has wanted for a long time,” Kemp said. “I couldn’t be more excited for him. He’s a great guy and a big reason why we’ve had the success that we’ve had. There is no one more deserving than him. He’s going to be successful and going to do a great job.”
As part of the promotion, Miller will relinquish his duties as cross country coach, Lindsey said. Miller hopes to keep seven-year assistant coach Steven Cornett on the baseball staff.
Kemp claimed the Red Elephants players, who last year went 22-9 and fell in the first round of the state playoffs, were excited about Miller getting the head coaching job when informed during a team meeting Tuesday.
Despite the upcoming transition, Gainesville’s coaching staff is still focused on competing for a state title this year, a point Miller said he stressed during the meeting. The Red Elephants open the season with doubleheader against East Laurens on Feb. 22 in East Dublin.
The coaches won’t do much out of the ordinary this season, even as a change at the top looms. Miller said Kemp has always shared responsibilities and kept an open dialogue about crafting schedules and lineups, so he’s prepared to step right into the head coaching role.
It was a highly coveted one — Lindsey said he received about 30-40 resumes before he had even posted the opening.
Yet Lindsey didn’t have to look far to find his next baseball coach, a guy who could have taken several other jobs but choose to remain at Gainesville. Kemp said Miller, a “great friend” has been passing on coaching openings for the past five or six years.
“I had previous opportunities to go somewhere else, but it had to be the right place,” Miller said. “I’ve seen the kids here, seen the administration and all the fans. Even as an assistant, all of it just jumps out at you.”
He won’t be an assistant for too much longer.