FOUR QUESTIONS: A CONVERSATION WITH… Bill Miller
Bill Miller is superintendent of the Polk County Schools and in his second year serving as president of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association. He is a 1980 graduate of Wingate University and did graduate work at both the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and the University of South Carolina. Bill has touched many bases, including serving as a teacher and coach, principal, working in the central office and now as superintendent. Bill has also served on the NCHSAA Realignment Committee.
What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in high school athletics during your time in education?
I have seen a variety of changes; the ones that come to my mind first are the improvements in safety, the addition of more sports and thus the inclusion of more students in our sports programs. Another group of changes involves travel play and year round sports participation focused on one sport. The travel programs and one sport focus are not programs or goals of the NCHSAA, but their growth has had a major impact on high school sports and our student- athletes.
How would you describe your experience on the NCHSAA Board of Directors and especially your time as president?
My experience with the NCHSAA Board of Directors and the honor I have had serving as President has been wonderful. I have learned a great deal about our state and how issues impact different schools and communities in different ways. I have been so impressed with the approach of the Board members with whom I have served. Two things happen consistently in NCHSAA Board meetings: members are diligent in their pursuit of what is best for student-athletes in our state, and members speak up for what they believe best represents their region, their schools or their organization.
What role do you believe athletics can play in the overall atmosphere of a high school and in the community?
My experience is that high school sports have a very important role in the culture and life of a high school. I believe so strongly in what participation in high school sports does for an individual. In sports you must work hard to have an opportunity for success. The hard work does not guarantee success, but is a necessary ingredient for success.
In sports sometimes you will get the lucky break and sometimes you will get the bad break, and you must learn to live with both. In sports, sometimes things will happen that are fair and sometimes things happen that are unfair. Through all of this, student-athletes have an experience of being part of something bigger than themselves, and this is usually an experience they will remember the rest of their lives.
What is the most difficult thing about serving as a school superintendent?
In recent times, many of my challenges have centered around budget and the morale of our staff. Somehow the national and state dialogue around education has resulted in teachers and coaches starting to feel like they do not make a difference, and I believe nothing could be further from the truth. Much like a coach, my role requires us to stay focused on our goals and working hard each day, regardless of the circumstances we find ourselves in.