Miller set to begin coaching career at young age

Mark Martin

Initially, former Ripley High basketball and softball standout Lexi Miller had plans to become a sports medicine physician. She was majoring in bio-chemistry at Concord University.

After transferring to WVU-Parkersburg, Miller switched her focus over to nursing.

While doing well in both fields of study, something completely different was tugging at her heart…the teaching and coaching profession.

Her mother, Sarah, is a teacher at Ripley Elementary. Both her mother and father, Jason, have always been supportive of whatever path she chooses in life.

And now that she has settled on becoming an educator, her days of teaching will begin a little earlier than expected.

While she still has some work to do before getting into a classroom setting, Miller is ready to begin leaving her mark as a teacher on the court and the field.

Miller is getting ready to embark on her first season as the head coach of Ripley Middle School girls basketball.

When she learned the job was open, Miller thought, “I will make it work.”

She’s had experience coaching and feels confident in taking the next step.

“I coached in the youth leagues and Little League softball,” she noted.

Getting a chance to be a part of something she has always loved is a dream come true for the personable 20-year-old.

“I always wanted to do education,” Miller said. “And I wanted to coach. I figured if I was doing nursing and putting in 12-hour days or longer, I’m not going to be able to coach.”

When her schooling is completed, she has her hopes set on working at two different levels in the stages of teaching.

“I would like to do fourth or fifth grade starting out,” she said. “I plan to get my Master’s degree in math after I graduate. So hopefully in the future I can teach math at the high school level.”

Miller will be assisted in basketball by Anna Kimble. The two have been friends for years and played a lot of basketball together growing up.

“She’s passionate about it (coaching),” said Miller of her long-time friend and coaching mate.

Their middle school squad, which has started conditioning as winter sports in West Virginia are relaunched, will consist of 16 players.

“We had gotten in 10 practices (back in November) before things were shut down (due to COVID-19),” Miller said. “We are going to play 14 games and will have both a varsity and jayvee team.”

Not only is Miller going to be heading up the middle school girls basketball program, but has also taken on an assistant’s role in girls softball working with head coach Franklin Howerton.

As she gets her feet wet in the coaching business, Miller feels blessed to have learned from some of the best during her playing days.

In basketball, her head coach at Ripley High was John Kennedy.

“I was with him for four years,” she said. “I respected him a lot. I’m really close to his daughter and niece. I’m close to that family.”

After sitting out of softball as a freshman, Miller returned to the sport she had last played during her youth league days. On the diamond she had the good fortune of being under the guidance of Kenny Swisher.

“I love Coach Swisher. He’s a great guy,” she said.

Swisher and Miller’s mother taught together at Ripley Elementary. “She’s the one to put the thought back in my head to play softball. I’m glad I did.”

Perhaps no one had a greater influence on Miller at a young age, both as an athlete and student, as did Terry Landis, the former Ripley High athletic great, who coached Miller in basketball at the middle school level.

“I look up to him a lot,” she said.

While she is young, Miller appears to be mature beyond her years and is ready to take on the rigors and challenges that come with the coaching scene.

“This is what is going to make me happy,” Miller said.

And Lexi Miller’s happiness will no doubt be beneficial to many young student/athletes for years to come.