Prior to 2019 for Thornton High School, the baseball program hadn’t had a winning season since 2004. However, things are changing for the Trojans under third-year manager Jeremy Miller. Going 11-10 …
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Prior to 2019 for Thornton High School, the baseball program hadn’t had a winning season since 2004.
However, things are changing for the Trojans under third-year manager Jeremy Miller.
Going 11-10 this past season, Thornton is off the winless streak and looking forward to continuing their positive direction and new culture.
“It was overwhelming, to be honest,” Miller said on achieving a winning season on a phone interview. “We had to fight right until the end. When I was interviewed three years ago, I told them that I believe that it will be a 3-5 year turnaround. I could see three years if I could get buy-in and luckily, I got a good group of kids that started with me as sophomores (seniors this season). As a coach and a teacher at the school, I have a lot of pride in bringing some pride back the school and community. It felt great.”
With seven seniors on the roster (James Young, Hunter Harris, Jered Phelps, Matt Clark, Shayne Eggers, Gage Judish and Angelo Romero) six of these in Young, Harris, Phelps, Clark, Eggers, and Judish were sophomores and on the varsity team when Miller took over. Three years later, Miller loses some special individuals that have been there with him since the start, that helped him mold Thornton into the program he foresaw himself leading.
“One of the worst parts about being both a teacher and a coach is that at the end of the year you’re never going to have that group again,” Miller said. “Those guys (seniors) are going to be so hard to replace. We had this motto of `family,’ and we did become a family. I love those kids. They all bought in, all worked their butts off.”
When asked about why the program had changed, the 5A EMAC Coach of the Year credited his staff, players and improved field conditions from when he took over the job. In fact, the field at Thornton was awarded the Colorado High School Big School Field of the Year by the Colorado Dugout Club. This award is handed out by the state coaches association to the most-improved baseball field in Colorado.
Also, as summer has arrived, Miller and his team are staying busy playing competitively in the RBI and CBL leagues. With the extra exposure and continued competition, Miller talked about the confidence and growth his team has displayed over the past few weeks.
“You can see it, we are playing summer ball right now, and we are competing at a level that we have yet to see in the last two years. We are winning games (RBI and CBL leagues) and doing things that this program wasn’t doing when I got here. Every day I remind them that summer (ball) is for fun. I like summer and fall baseball so much because the pressure of being a high school coach isn’t on me the same, and I can be a little more laid back. I get paid to be the mean guy during the season, and sometimes I don’t like that because I love the kids, the game and having fun. I tell them in the summer to enjoy the game, but also keep your goals in mind.”
Continuing on the topic of goals, Miller believed two games slipped out of their hands this year that they wanted to have back. Therefore, the anticipation next season is to earn at least 13 games because of those two losses and “I think we are going to be rock-solid next year,” Miller said. “I anticipate us being better.”
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