Training champions


Ryan Baker, Men’s Sports Assistant Editor

Track and field assistant coach Jeff Miller has been coaching at UW-Whitewater since the fall of 1982. Not only does he oversee the distance runners for track and field, but he is also the head coach for both the men’s and women’s cross country teams. Miller has been a part of the ups and downs for the track and field program, and speaks on his experience at UWW, his coaching style, and this year’s star-studded team. 


Q: How did you get into coaching?

A: My experience as a runner. In high school I did a lot of sports, and then I got into running. I went to school as a business major and decided that I wasn’t interested in it. Then, I became a physical education major with a coaching kind of minor and so that’s what I thought I really wanted to do.

Q: Throughout your time here, how have you seen Whitewater itself and the track and field program develop?

A: It’s always been a pretty strong track and field program. The distance running part wasn’t really strong back when I came here, but track has always had really good athletes. I remember when I was competing at UW-La Crosse, Whitewater was always right there with us. We started developing our distance program a little better. It has its highs and lows. Over the course of the last 20 years, the team has done really well.

Q: What has been your experience here at Whitewater?

A: At Whitewater, you think about the experience being something that is life long and that you will continue to be a member of the university and part of the Warhawk family for the rest of your life. We have alumni functions and golf outings to keep everyone connected throughout the different times. We’ve been doing the same things. The guy who came here my first year coaching can talk to the guys who are here now and talk about the same runs.

Q: What kind of mindset do you try to instill in the new members when they first come in?

A: We are trying to improve. No matter where we are, our goal is to be better next year. Whether you start at a high level or lower on the team, everyone is trying to improve. The outcomes will happen, whatever they are, they are. You focus on what you’re going to do and how you are going to improve. We always talk about how you aren’t as good as you think you are and you aren’t as bad as you think you are. You have to keep it even-keeled.

Q: Can you speak on this year’s group of guys?

A: We have a lot of young runners, more than half our team are freshmen. We also have very unique talent, and it’s an interesting dynamic that we have. These guys are at very high levels. Placing in the conference, going to nationals, being All-Americans, national championship in Christin Patzka so it really sets the bar high for everyone else. This is the biggest freshman class we’ve ever had with this kind of skill. They’re all doing very well. They are all really good teammates.

Q: Do you have a favorite moment in your coaching career?

A: I think anytime that you coach for a long time, it gets harder and harder to do that. There are always moments like the first team that went to nationals for men and women. Those stand out because it was the first time those things ever happened. There’s just so many. I mean I coached my son, and when he was here he was a national champion in the steeple chase. It’s just a lot of things to say, one would be the most. You almost have to put a list of 20 and then I would still probably forget a few.


Ideally, Miller will be able to add even more to the long list of favorite moments when his distance runners compete in the up and coming WIAC outdoor championships May 5 and 6.