INDEPENDENCE – Independence’s baseball program recently gained a new head coach. Matt Miller, an Independence native, recently returned to his old stomping grounds after teaching in Texas and southern Iowa.
After graduating from Independence High School with the Class of 1993, Miller played baseball at Upper Iowa, making an appearance at the Division III World Series with his teammates.
“I was lucky to be part of a great baseball program at Upper Iowa,” said Miller. “I had some great experiences there, and it’s just an awesome place to be.”
After graduation, Miller says he was itching to move somewhere warmer. After teaching in Austin and Dallas, Texas, Miller says he found his way back home.
“After college, I couldn’t wait to get out of Iowa to find warm weather,” said Miller. “I loved it in Texas, but as I got older I was feeling a bit more pull to get back closer to family.”
Miller and his family moved to the Independence district this past fall, and Miller has been teaching high school social studies. He says he didn’t expect to coach baseball, but that the opportunity was hard to pass up.
“I have been nothing but impressed by all of the people who put in the work before me on building up some amazing facilities,” said Miller. “I love being involved with the game at any capacity, and I’m very appreciative of the people who have worked hard to build up the baseball program here in Independence. “
In addition to utilizing Independence’s impressive facilities, Miller also looks forward to working with the program’s dedicated athletes.
“I think we’ve got a really good group of guys,” said Miller. “They look like a group that likes to compete. As a coach, that’s really exciting to see because that’s the name of the game. We want to go out there, compete, and represent our community well.”
Athletic Director Justin Putz looks forward to seeing Miller bring his legacy of success to Independence.
“We are excited to have Coach Miller as our next baseball coach,” said Putz. “Coach Miller has a tremendous track record of success at all his stops. He has led teams to conference titles, the state tournament, and coached a state championship team. We are equally excited about his passion for Independence and working with student athletes.”
Miller hopes the team can appreciate the time they’ll spend on the field. With COVID-19 in the mix this year, it is unclear when high school baseball can begin.
Miller, and the rest of Iowa’s baseball and softball coaches, are awaiting guidance from Governor Reynolds, the Department of Education, and the Iowa High School Athletics Association regarding a start date for practices and games. Announcements are expected around June 1. Even so, Miller is hopeful that the Mustangs can get a good season in.
“The lucky thing about baseball is there are so many games played in a season,” said Miller. “Even if we have to have a shorter season, we can still get in a lot of games and practices. But we’re really hoping to get on the field by June 1 or shortly after.”
Once the players and coaches are allowed on the field, Miller hopes they can appreciate the time they’ll be able to spend together.
“This year, we really just want to focus on the simple things, and just loving the game,” said Miller. “These unprecedented times offer a great opportunity for our players and coaches to feel how lucky we are to be out there representing our community and district.”
Miller looks forward to continuing Independence’s involvement in baseball at all ages, and appreciates the people who have helped make the program great.
“I’m looking forward to being very involved at all age levels, and I want to say thank you to all of the people who have been involved in the program at any level here in Independence,” said Miller. “All of them have worked hard to make the program what it is today, and it really is a special place to be.”
Stay tuned to the Independence Community School District and Independence Mustang Baseball on Facebook for updates on the upcoming season and scheduling. For more information, contact Coach Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org.