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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Interview with Jane Miller

This blog is an excuse for me to talk to some of my “buddies” in sports. The first on my list is Jane Miller, sports reporter for the Peoria Journal-Star. This gives me a chance to reverse roles and ask the questions of her.

I have been very fortunate as a coach because I can only think of one sports reporter who was unfair toward my players in what they chose to write. So I have gotten to know and work with some great reporters. My three favorites to work with have been Jay Redfern, Tom Loewy, and Jane Miller.

Jane is a GHS grad (before I started teaching). She left Galesburg for the glamour of the big city (Peoria). Jane has the tough task of being the “hometown” reporter for about 20 schools each winter. And she does a fair job, understands the purpose of high school sports, and really cares about the kids she covers.

Massey-  If you were able to go back, what sporting event/game that took place when you were in high school, would you like to go back as a sportswriter and cover?
Miller- This will probably surprise you but one of the football games my sophomore year that Dave “Louie” Nichols played in. The basketball state tournament stuff was too intense and we always lost the big games. Dale Kelly’s 50-point game was before I was in high school or I might have said that.

 Massey- Same idea, if able, who would you like to go back and interview from the '60's in Galesburg sports?
Miller- Coach Thiel, of course. We were so in awe of him so I would have liked to get to know the person he was a little more.

Massey- What are some of the most exciting events/games you have gotten to cover in your career?
Miller-You won’t like this, but the coolest thing I have ever covered were the Formula One races in Indianapolis because it’s something I NEVER thought I would have a chance to see. But I also love the state cross country meet and state track. And there have been quite a few basketball games over the years which have been highlights.
Massey- I agree with your feelings about cross country. The state meet may be the most spectacular high school sports event in Illinois. But that car racing stuff I don’t get.

Massey- How in the world did you get involved in this auto racing thing?
Miller- There was a car in 1968 called the Lotus Turbine. It was a color of orange that can’t be reproduced on film. It was the coolest car I ever saw and it raced at Indianapolis. I got interested in the 500 from that and listened to it on the radio every year until I finally got to go there in 1975. As soon as I walked in to the Speedway, I felt like I was in heaven. I feel like that to this day every time I drive into that place.
Massey- Jane, this interview is not going the direction that I had hoped.

Massey- What are a couple stories of yours that you think were either the most interesting to write or you think turned out to be one of the best you produced?
Miller- One of my favorites was when I walked the cross country state course with Heidi Knapp and she described her strategy at each part. It was only two miles then. I always enjoy the stories I write from the Peoria TT because the riders are so great. My favorite preview that I ever did was the one for the sectional at Galesburg a few years ago when John (Gross) gave a scouting report on all the teams. I like feature stories on people most of all. The best compliment I ever get is from a parent who says I completely captured their child’s personality in my story.

Massey- Basketball gets much more attention than cross country. What do you think basketball players could learn from cross country runners?
Miller- Self-discipline, self-motivation. Those kids are the such dedicated and hard-working athletes who certainly get a much smaller share of the spotlight than most. And they run all year and work out on their own.  

Massey- How long have you covered girls basketball? How do you see it has changed during that time?
Miller- Probably 17 years – eight when I first started then nine in this last stint. Quality of play overall is much higher. And there’s more interest. But when I first started, the top players over here were Nora Lewis, Cindy Bumgarner, Jonelle Polk, Tracy Krick and Carla McGhee and I don’t think we’ve had a group of that caliber at one time since then. I do think I have the best winter beat.

Massey- When you come back to Galesburg what do you do?
Miller- I visit my mom and sister and eat at Gray’s, Taco Hideout and Pizza House.

Massey- The best part about growing up in Galesburg was what?
Miller- Everything. I couldn’t imagine a better place to grow up. But I guess I’d have to say going to basketball games with my dad from the time I was little. And hanging out at Lake Bracken.

Massey- Jane may have moved to Peoria but she still has strong feelings for her hometown. When we were able to pull off the big upset vs. Loyola in 1999, she certainly got caught up in the joy of the moment. But that is Jane, sportswriting is not just a job, it is a passion. On the outside she keeps her "professional face" but on the inside she jumps for joy when any of her 20 plus "hometown" teams succeed.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome interview of a great sports writer and a good friend! Love the blog, Evan.