July 23, 2016

Mostly sunny

Bruce Miller steps down as Blue Devils soccer coach

BRUNSWICK — Over the course of his career as a professional soccer player and coach, Bruce Miller has been as hard-nosed as they come.

It’s the same attitude he brought to the Brunswick boys program four years ago when he took the helm to coach his son, Justin.

Bruce Miller

Miller an-nounced after Wednesday’s Division I district semifinal loss to Highland he will be stepping down.

“It’s getting hard just because as a coach, I’ve always been an active coach,” he said. “If I don’t like the way a practice is going, I step in and play and I’ve done it my whole life.

“I’m a never-quit, do-it-as-hard-as-you-can-the-entire-time guy, and that’s why I have an artificial knee, an artificial hip and another hip that’s lousy.”

The Canadian native played in the North American Soccer League and the Major Indoor Soccer League. When his playing days were over, Miller embarked on a coaching career that has spanned more than two decades, highlighted by a six-year stint as head coach of the Cleveland Crunch, leading the team to a pair of championships.

In four seasons at Brunswick, Miller was 27-34-12, which included back-to-back district appearances. The Blue Devils were 7-8-4 this season.

“Bruce has been around the sport his whole life. To have someone so experienced really benefitted all of our programs, not just soccer,” Brunswick athletic director Pete Demonte said. “We’re grateful for all the time he’s given us — whether it would’ve been one year, four years or 20 years.”

Miller also was heavily involved in the development of Brunswick’s youth program. It competes against neighboring powers Medina and Strongsville.

Not surprisingly, the Blue Devils have a strong eighth-grade class.

“The future in Brunswick is bright,” Miller said. “The eighth-grade group that is coming in, the local travel organization is very, very good. And the younger kids coming on … they’ll do all right.”

When asked if he would miss it, Miller replied, “Absolutely … Oh yeah. You never know what happens.”

Now Demonte and Brunswick must find a replacement to keep the program moving in the right direction.

A leading candidate is current Blue Devils assistant coach Ben Dotson, who has been on Miller’s staff for the last three seasons and was previously head coach at Holy Name. Miller mentioned he would like to see Dotson get the job.

“I’ve been really fortunate that I was able to become friends with Bruce,” said Demonte, who also coaches for Cleveland Futbol Club. “He’s an idol for all us coaches, and to be able to sit down with him and talk about soccer, I’m going to miss that.

“We’re hoping (whoever takes over) will continue what Bruce has done. He still lives in the community, so I have a feeling he may come back around at the younger levels.”

Contact Dan Brown at sports@medina-gazette.com.