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Miller made big impact on Tyrone athletics

Sometimes, a caring adult can positively shape a young person’s entire life and future.

Tom Delozier said that was the case in his dealings with Tom Miller, who was a longtime physical education teacher and football and track coach at Tyrone Area High School.

Miller, a 1962 graduate and standout football player at Tyrone who went on to become a Division I collegiate quarterback at Colorado State University, passed away last Wednesday at the age of 78.

Delozier, 60, who currently lives and works in Bismarck, N.D., maintained that he was an aimless junior high school student when Miller helped him to turn over a new leaf and pursue an athletic career.

“When I was in junior high, I was an idiot,” Delozier said. “I was a bad kid, I was smoking, and one day, Coach Miller sat me down, told me that I had to quit smoking, and that I had to go out for sports.

“Coach Miller was a tell-it-like-it-is guy. He was an amazing guy. There was no sugar-coating with him. He was right up there with my dad in changing my life forever.”

Adhering to Miller’s comprehensive weight-training regimen, Delozier eventually became a very accomplished and successful power-lifter.

“He taught me how to lift weights, and I was a competitive power-lifter for 21 years,” said Delozier, who went on to achieve 600 pounds in the bench press, 700 in the deadlift and 800 in the squat.

After high school, Delozier played semi-pro football as a nose guard for a team in Virginia known as the Virginia Storm.

When Delozier didn’t make the cut for Tyrone’s baseball team as a junior in the spring of 1978, Miller — then an assistant coach with Tyrone’s track and field team — opened the door for Delozier to participate as a shot put, discus and javelin thrower.

In Delozier’s senior year, he was a member of Tyrone’s undefeated 1979 Mountain League champion track and field team. The young head coach of that team was Tony Yaniello, who appreciated having Miller as an assistant coach.

Yaniello went on to a long and successful track, wrestling and football coaching career at Tyrone.

Even today, Yaniello is grateful for Miller’s influence.

“He taught me so much about life and about enjoying our profession,” Yaniello said in a recent Facebook post about Miller. “He was a big influence on my teaching and coaching career.

“He was a great family man, and, at the same time, as a teacher and as a coach, he influenced so many. He was my assistant coach on my first track and field team at Tyrone, which went undefeated, and I was his junior high school football coach there.”

Both Yaniello and Pete Dutrow — a former longtime athletic director and coach at Tyrone –said that Miller was respected and loved by the young athletes that came under his charge.

“The kids loved him,” Yaniello said. “He always put the kids first. As a coach, he had a weight (training) program that was second to none, and that all the sports teams in the school benefited from.”

Dutrow seconded that notion.

“Tom was a great guy, and the kids loved him,” Dutrow said of Miller, who also played semi-pro football with three different teams, including the Central Pennsylvania Whitetail Bucks. “He spent a lot of time in the weight room, and he would work out with the kids himself, lifting weights with them. He was physical, and he was strong. The kids were in awe of him watching him lift weights.”

Miller served two tenures as Tyrone’s head football coach, the first from 1979 through 1986, and the second covering the 1992 and 1993 seasons. His career record was 46-42-2, and his 1986 team won the Western Conference championship and appeared in the District 6 Class AAA championship game.

His 1985 team also qualified for the District 6 playoffs in the very first year that the tournament was held.

Along with coaching varsity football and track, Miller also served as a baseball and basketball coach both in the Tyrone Area School District and in the town’s youth athletic organizations. He was also an assistant varsity football coach at Bellefonte, Moshannon Valley and Philipsburg-Osceola high schools.

Miller retired as a physical education teacher from Tyrone in 2005, after 37 years of service.

Miller is survived by his wife, Sandra, and their five grown children and 10 grandchildren. Visitation hours for Miller will be held Tuesday from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. at the Feller Memorial Home, Tyrone, as well as from noon until the 1 p.m. funeral service Wednesday at the First English Lutheran Church in Tyrone, pastor Sharon Erb officiating.

Contributions in Miller’s memory can be made to the Tyrone Football Boosters, P.O. Box 155, Tyrone, Pa. 16686.

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