One thing I have learned is that good friends have other good friends. This is a series of stories about friends of my friends. The post below is the story on a friend of a friend for January 19, 2015.
In 1977 as a new assistant basketball coach at Pembroke State now called UNC Pembroke I was sent to attend the Durham HS Basketball Clinic in October. I was told by my Pembroke Head Coach Joe Gallagher just show up at the clinic on Saturday go meet Ron Miller.
Joe said Ron is going to let you spend Saturday night with him in his hotel room. He is a Pembroke guy and he knows our basketball budget is tight. I won’t go into all the details but that Saturday was an adventure in finding Ron Miller and his roommate for the weekend Bob Burke. I will leave that story for another day and possible a different audience.
Ron was a native of Brooklyn, N.Y. and he joined the Pembroke State basketball squad in 1961 after transferring from Edwards Military Institute in Salemburg, NC where he also earned most valuable player honors as a baseball player.
Miller earned his degree in Health and Physical Education from Pembroke State College in 1963 and went on to become a successful high school coach. He was inducted into the UNCP Athletic Hall of Fame in 2005.
Over his 35-year career coaching both boys and girls he won more than 625 games. He had a number of different coaching stops but in 1977 he was at South View High School in Hope Mills, NC and spent most of his career there. He spent 26 of his 37 years in coaching at South View, where his record was 413-247. In 1993 Ron South View Tigers won the 4A NCHSAA State Championship. South View renamed its gym, Ron Miller Gym in his honor in 2003.
As a head coach, athletic director and assistant principal, Miller was a well-known face within the Pembroke community and was active with the UNCP Braves Club. If UNCP was having Homecoming or some special event Ron was supporting it.
Ron died on July 27, 2008 at age 68. He had a long-time friend Diane Loesekann who actually found him dead in his Hope Mills townhouse. Everyone was shocked that he was gone. Ron was survived by a son and daughter. His friends and family created an Endowed Scholarship in his honor at UNC Pembroke for a South View High School student to attend UNCP.
From that first meeting in 1977 Ron and I became friends. Like all of Ron’s friends I was the recipient of lots of unsolicited advice on recruiting, coaching, and often on life in general. Ron was a fiery competitor but he was also a friend to all of the Cumberland County Basketball Coaches in the 1970’s-80’s and 90’s.
It was thru that friendship that Ron introduced me to one of his good friends Leon Brock. Leon was another long-time coach in Cumberland County who coached at Stedman and Cape Fear HS. Below are some of the Leon Brock stories I either witnessed or Ron told me about.
The Friend-RON MILLER
The Friend of the Friend-LEON BROCK-no picture available of Leon
Ron Miller and his coaching friend Leon Brock
Leon Brock died on February 3, 2009 shortly after Ron Miller passed away. When Leon passed away he was 79 years old. He was a Graduate of Clinton High School and East Carolina University. He also was an Army Veteran of the Korean War and really fit in with the families that were stationed at Fort Bragg. Leon coached at Stedman HS for 10 years and spent 23 years at Cape Fear HS.To his coaching buddies he was called “Sug”-short for Sugar Bear.
Leon was a character and might be described as easily distracted. He was a man who believed firmly in right and wrong and would not hesitate to discipline any transgressions but he had a big heart and did not hold a grudge.
I want to share two quick stories about Leon Brock that demonstrated his character and ability to get easily distracted. In the late 1980’s Cape Fear was playing at South View. Leon unbeknownst to me had for the previous two weeks trying to call and speak to insurance agent. That agent’s son played JV for South View and was at the game sitting high up in the stands. Well the teams come out to warm-up and about 11 minutes before tip-off Leon spots him in the stands and goes to him. He did so without entering the starting line-up in the scorebook. The game starts with South View shooting two technical free throws for Cape Fear not having the starting line-up in the book 10 minutes before the game. We are shooting free throws and Leon is still in stands with the insurance agent. He comes down to the bench seconds after the game has started tells me well I just saved $72.00 on my next premium.
The second story on Leon Brock was at Pembroke’s Summer Camp. In summer of 1979 we are both coaching at Pembroke Summer Basketball School. The camp comes to an end and each team is waiting to check out of the dorms. Each team has to have the Pembroke staff check the room for damages and return all the keys so they can get their housing deposit back.
Well Leon is livid because one of the room keys to the dorm is missing that was issued to Cape Fear and he will not let the team get on activity bus until that key is found. He lines his entire team up on the front steps of the Jones Center. He has each of them empty their pockets. No key. He proceeds to tell them I want you to think where that key is at why each of you is doing 25 push-ups. The team groans and begins the calisthenics. They get done with the push-ups and he asks the team again where is the missing key? At this same time his assistant coach asked for the bus key. Leon reaches in his pocket and the missing room key hits the concrete. The entire Colts basketball team burst out laughing. Leon sheepishly says let’s get on the bus.
Ron and Leon were two great High School Coaches that touched a lot of lives in Fayetteville NC. I am proud that both of these guys are members of the Fayetteville Sports Hall of Fame.