A friend of a friend- Roi Holladay and Heather Miller-February 27

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 for February 27, 2015.

My goal in 2015 is to learn or get re-acquainted with 365 people and doing a daily post on the “the friend of a friend” is helping me get closer to my goal.

On Wednesday night I got to see the University of North Carolina at Pembroke Men’s Basketball team finish up their regular season with a win over Francis Marion University by the score of 88-79. The win improves the UNC Pembroke “Braves” to a record of 24-4. On Saturday February 14, 2015 a good friend of our head coach and his wife came to watch the Braves play.

The head coach of the team is Ben Miller who is in his 7th season at Pembroke and appears to be ready to take his team to the NCAA Division II playoffs for the 3rd time in five years. It is pretty amazing considering that our university only was able to win 24 games in 6 years prior to his arrival in 2008. In 2008 I was the Athletic Director and I consider it one of the high point of my professional career as Athletic Director to help hire Ben as our Men’s Basketball Coach. I was impressed with him from the beginning of our search but when I met his wife I knew that the two of them as a team they would change our fortunes.

I am quite certain that Ben would not have been able to keep his sanity in the early years 2008-2010 if it wasn’t for his best friend. That person is his wife Heather Hirt Miller. Coaches cannot be successful without a supportive spouse. In the supportive area Heather Miller is a gold star, A+, and 10 all rolled into one.

Ben and Heather met while they were in college at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. Ben was the basketball player and Heather was the refined young women interested in music and art. Heather is an extremely talented singer and teacher. Her talent has impacted our community in lots of ways but none so much with the church. She has been instrumental in a number of ways. She has been a pre-school teacher, singer in praise band and choir, director of Selah Choir, and recently the Director of Children and Youth Education.

The Selah Choir is church choir reserved for a special group of individuals. That group is exclusively for girls’ in 7th-12th grades. It is a fun group that loves to praise the Lord using their voices. Just like her husband Ben, Heather has to have her choir practice and that keeps her Sunday evenings busy. They sing for church services an average of once every 6 weeks, alternating between the contemporary and traditional services.  Additionally, they help to tell the story of Christ’s birth in the annual Tableau Christmas pageant which is a Lumberton ritual the second Sunday in December.

In addition to the choir work Heather is mom to her beautiful daughter Betsie and son Charlie. She just was appointed to the position of Interim Children and Youth Director of the church. On top of all of that there is not a more passionate fan of Braves Basketball than Heather Miller. She has seen the lows points in Ben’s journey to build a championship program at UNC Pembroke and has demonstrated to every young man in her husband program how much they care about each one. From managers to All-Americans Heather has made sure each one is made to feel special.

Heather is a humble person and when I asked her about how she learned to be a coach’s wife she replied I had two great teachers my mother-in-law Dee Miller and my friend Roi Holladay.


Heather with her boysBen and Heather

The Friend of the Friend-ROI HOLLADAY-Heather and Roi depicted below

Roi Holladay

What Roi Holladay taught Heather Miller about being a coach’s wife

Heather is quick to tell you when she and Ben were married and arrived at Kansas she had no idea what a coach’s wife was supposed to do. She learned from Roi Holladay in her days in Lawrence what worked. Roi moved thru the role of a coach’s wife with ease and grace.

Roi Holladay is married to Joe Holladay who worked for over 20 years as Roy Williams assistant basketball coach at both the University of Kansas and University of North Carolina. Prior to getting into college coaching Joe was a high school coach for 23 years in Oklahoma. Joe is recently retired from full-time coaching. He and Roi live in Chapel Hill, NC.

Roi and Joe, have a daughter, Heather, who lives in Naples, Fla., with her husband, David, and their son, Boston. The Holladays’ son, Mathew, is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy and a former Army Ranger. He earned his MBA from UNC and works in real estate investment banking for Bank of America Merrill Lynch. He and his wife, Mishelle, live in Charlotte.

Heather told me that Roi taught me things that are so important in being a coach’s wife. She outlined some of the more important ones to me.

1. At every game speak to the parents of every player that came to watch. Roi stressed that ever mom wants constant reminder that someone really cares about her son when he is away from home.

2. Look the part of being a coach’s wife. Dress in the appropriate colors.

3. Embrace the people in your community they are all important. You can be a pathway for new people to get to know your husband team and program.

4. Give your husband space especially after a loss.

5. Understand the importance of weaving your friends into activities involving your husband basketball team.

6. Be willing to share your family with your husband’s boys-make them your boy’s.

On Saturday February 14, 2015 Roi and her husband Joe who is a great friend with Ben came to UNC Pembroke to watch Ben’s team play. I am pretty certain Joe was proud to see Ben’s team win.

Not sure that came close to Roi’s pride seeing her friend Heather take her coaching wife lessons to heart and make them shine.

If you have a coach as a friend you are lucky-if you have a coach’s wife as a friend you are blessed.

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