2020 Northwest Herald Girls Basketball Coach of the Year: Dundee-Crown's Sarah Miller

Dundee-Crown head coach Sarah Miller and assistant coach James Lopez communicate with their players during the third quarter of the Class 4A South Elgin Supersectional on March 2 against Lake Park.
Dundee-Crown head coach Sarah Miller and assistant coach James Lopez communicate with their players during the third quarter of the Class 4A South Elgin Supersectional on March 2 against Lake Park.

Dundee-Crown's Fox Valley Conference championship was impressive.

Going 17-1 in the 10-team conference with its only loss to Burlington Central made it more impressive. And doing it without one of its best returning players, three-year varsity point guard Gianine Boado, who lost her junior season to a torn ACL in December, made it all more special.

Whatever obstacle was thrown D-C's way, the Chargers prevailed.

After winning its first outright FVC title since 2004, D-C went on to earn its first regional championship since 2017. The Chargers earned their team-record 29th win of the season with a 43-37 victory over Barrington in the Class 4A Huntley Sectional final, ending a 17-year drought without a sectional title.

The season ended one win shy of D-C's first state tournament appearance since 1984, losing to Lake Park, 60-49, in the South Elgin Supersectional, but that didn't take away from an otherwise remarkable season.

For leading the Chargers to a record-breaking season in her seventh year at the school, Sarah Miller was voted the 2020 Northwest Herald Girls Basketball Coach of the Year, as chosen by the sports staff. Miller also won in 2017.

Woodstock North's Mike Lewis, who led the Thunder to a program-record 21 wins and the first conference basketball championship in school history, also received consideration for the award.

Miller recently spoke with the Northwest Herald about the 2020 season, the graduating class, rapping and more.

What go you interested in coaching?

Miller: I grew up around sports. I’m the youngest of five siblings. From a young age, I was involved in a lot of them but really loved the game of basketball. It always just stuck with me. I had that competitive passion that drove me to want to coach.

Is there a particular game this season you will remember most vividly?

Miller: The Barrington game and winning that sectional final was one of the most memorable games. Not just because it was a sectional final ,but I think getting to that moment with our group after what we had been through, it gives me chills thinking about it.

Which player on your team made you laugh the most?

Miller: It’s tough because my entire team was hilarious this year. I would say the bench mob crew, they cracked us all up during film session They put so much energy into it. That was what was so special about this group.

If you could have dinner with any three people, who would they be?

Miller: The first would be John Wooden, because he’s one of my favorite coaches of all time and I love reading his books. I’m a huge fan of MJ, so Michael Jordan, and (author) Jon Gordon.

What scares you?

Miller: Spiders.

Do you have any pregame rituals or superstitions?

Miller: We put the game plan together, and it’s written out. The day before a game, we meet in the classroom and go over it in great detail. The girls have journals they write notes in. That’s part of our routine. When we go in the locker room, we always yell really loud before the game, “Play hard, play tough, play smart, play together.” And it’s also been a ritual this season, and it’s a little embarrassing, that I do a little rap for the team. Some of those were a little bit better than others.

What will you remember most about the senior class?

Miller: Just the experiences as a coach and the memories I’ve had with them. You don't just remember the games and wins. It’s the memories and the moments. Being here for seven years, I've coached some of those girls since fifth grade. We’ve spent hours and hours upon hours with each other. I’ll remember that they’re all really good people and good girls. We’ve cherished some great moments together as a group. Through those moments, it’s really set this group apart.

What is your most prized possession?

Miller: I keep all of my practice plans in one laminated folder. If I were to lose that folder, it would be tough. That’s got everything from the entire year.

What will you remember most about your team's record-breaking season?

Miller: The sectional championship and that moment of pure joy and happiness we shared together as a group. I’m really close with my family, and they were all able to be a part of that, too. Everyone shared a part in that journey. Everyone brought it to practice every day, and I truly mean that when I say that. We had total buy-in. Everyone wanted to compete against each other every day, no matter what their role was. It was such a special year because we had such commitment to what we wanted to accomplish, no matter what adverse situation came up.

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