INDEPENDENCE — Zach Miller announced last week he is stepping down as Central’s head baseball coach.
Miller coached the Panthers for the previous six seasons and will move to Washington.
“The decision (to leave) was merely based on advancing forward for my wife’s (and mine) career goals,” Miller said. “I am fortunate to have been given the great opportunity to get my start here in a great community with parents and players who are second to none. I earned two degrees from Western Oregon, met my wife and gained valuable experience coaching while being a part of some special sports teams and made great memories each year.”
Under Miller’s guidance, Central’s baseball squad finished 12-14 overall and 10-11 in Mid-Willamette Conference play in 2016, placing fourth in the league standings. The Panthers advanced to the state play-in round before falling to Eagle Point.
Miller’s impact on the baseball team, and the athletics program in general, extended far beyond wins and losses, Central athletics director Shane Hedrick said.
“It was a real disappointment for me (to learn he is leaving),” Hedrick said. “(Zach) did a real nice job with the kids. He was very committed to the program and the school. He volunteered for a position with no pay, and in the fall, he helped supervise events. As a landscaper, he did all the groundwork at the baseball field that often required late hours after practice or on the weekends.”
While Miller went above and beyond his duties to help his student-athletes, Central also had a major impact on him during his tenure.
“I tell the players all the time that they don’t realize how great of a place Central is because they’ve grown up here, but as an outsider, you don’t find many places like here that support, care and love their sports like the Panther community,” Miller said. “I will miss that, but look forward to being a fan and supporter from afar.”
From his leadership guiding the baseball team to volunteering in the fall and winter, Miller leaves a positive legacy at Central.
“We’re certainly going to miss him,” Hedrick said. “He was really easy to work with and was a committed Panther.”
Hedrick said the school has begun searching for a new coach and hopes to make a hire as soon as possible.
“We want to allow that person to come in and work with the kids in the classroom and weight room,” Hedrick said. “That way, when the spring hits, they’re not coming in totally new.”