Adam Miller knows the Greater Alton area well and its prep athletics like the back of his hand.
He played high school sports at Roxana and served as the director of athletics at rival East Alton-Wood River.
Now, he’s coordinating the sports program at Civic Memorial High. Miller, 36, a 1999 Roxana High graduate, is taking over for Steve Carey, who retired. Carey, a CM grad, served dutifully as the school’s director of athletics for 23 years. Kevin Gockel replaced Miller, a fixture at EA-WR the last 10 years and the Oilers’ AD since 2009.
“The school is a little bigger, but the sports are the same,” said Miller, also an assistant principal at CM. “The difference is there are more kids playing sports.”
CM, which has 741 students, is the smallest school in the six-team Mississippi Valley Conference. EA-WR, with 528 students, is the largest school in the Prairie State Conference. Nevertheless, there’s a difference of more than 200 students and that keeps Miller hopping.
“It’s always busy, especially at the start of the season,” he said the first week of fall practice, “because the paperwork can be overwhelming and the kids just want to play.”
He added, “A lot of things are the same, so there’s not a huge difference. For me, I know what I need to do, but it’s a little different in how you do it.
“We do have a great coaching staff here and what’s one of the most exciting things is that all of the coaches are pulling in the right direction.”
Miller is one of the newbies, as are first-year head coaches Mike Parmentier (football), Chris Jordan (wrestling), Nick Smith (baseball) and Luke Angelo (softball). Smith is a CM grad, while Parmentier and Angelo have previously coached in the system.
Parmentier is up first this fall. Jordan follows him this winter, then Smith and Angelo take to the ball fields in the spring.
“The two biggest things about Mike Parmentier are that his relationship with the kids is fantastic and he has also been through the battles,” Miller said. “The kids want to play for him and Mike has a good track record from coaching at Staunton.”
Parmentier directed Staunton’s football fortunes from 2005-14 and guided the Bulldogs to a runner-up finish in the Class 2A finals three years ago. He was Girard’s head coach prior to his tenure at Staunton. Parmentier replaces Justin Winslow as CM’s head grid coach.
Jordan coached at Mount Zion last season and was at Lincoln Middle School in Edwardsville before that. He replaces Chad Young.
“Chris is a wrestler and his track record is very impressive,” Miller said. “He knows how to expand the program.”
Jordan, like Parmentier and Angelo, teaches in the school system. Smith manages Fitness and Fun in Bethalto.
“Nick is definitely a Bethalto guy and he will also be helping out in football,” Miller said. “Nick might not be in the building every day, but he’s in the community every day and that’s important.”
Smith takes over for Gary Bruening, who retired. Smith has been serving as an assistant for Alton High and the Metro East Bears American Legion squad and previously was the manager of the Bethalto Post 214 baseball team.
Angelo, a Marquette Catholic High grad, supplants Mike Eddy, another retiree. Angelo served as Eddy’s main assistant.
“Luke has been preparing for this for a long time and that’s a strength of his,” Miller said. “He has some great ideas to move things in the right direction. We need to get more kids involved in the program.”
Miller has gotten involved with Bethalto sports since Day 1 on the job and he’s enjoying it.
“The Valley feels like home to me because when I was growing up, I watched Valley schools and games. And when I played my first two years at Roxana, we were in the conference,” he said. “Then we went to the South Central. “
When he was at EA-WR, the Oilers were cast in the SCC before going to the Prairie State.
The MVC has deep rivalries and a tight-knit feel, he said. Since the schools are relatively short distances from each other, the administrators work closely, Miller said.
“There’s a great group of guys (ADs) in the Valley and Jerseyville’s Scott Tonsor is the dean of the conference now,” he said. Tonsor coached football at CM before returning to Jersey High, where he graduated. “The schools are similar and there’s a lot of collaboration among them.”
Miller noted, “The Valley also has great tradition and sometimes it gets overlooked in its Class 2A and 3A competition because of the 4A Southwestern Conference. I think one of the great things about the Valley is there’s home-and-home competition each year in every sport except football.’’
The high-grade competition causes every MVC school to seek a competitive edge in lifting the bar.
“You have to compete at a higher level in the Valley and that forces us to raise the level a little bit,” Miller said.
There’s no doubt he’s eager to push the Eagles onward and upward.
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