A letter from Eldon Miller
Former Tiger player (1957-61) and Head Coach (1964-70).
Back in the fall of 1957, Jake and Helen Miller drove me from the family farm outside Gnadenhutten, Ohio to Wittenberg. I was quite excited as Ray Mears had recruited me to play basketball and I knew I could prepare to coach high school basketball and to teach Math. At the time, I had no clue about what it meant to be a Tiger, I just wanted to play and win games.
The veteran players that first year, Terry Deems, Tony Wilcox, Bernie Thompson and Tony Vedova ran the open gym games prior to the start of the season’s practices. They definitely redefined intensity and competitiveness for all of us newcomers.
There were some great leaders in Wittenberg’s athletic department at that time and they included:
Bill Edwards, athletic director and head football coach
Dave Maurer, football, swimming and track coach
Howard "Red" Maurer, baseball coach
Ray Mears, basketball and tennis coach
All of these men made you keenly aware, that as a Tiger athlete, you lived with the highest expectations both as a student and as a player.
The basketball experience with Coach Mears and my teammates was a great education for a lifetime. Coach taught us about teamwork and that everyone was very important to the team, no matter the role they played. We all grew to love the challenge of competing as a team to win. Each one of us was expected to provide great energy and enthusiasm at every practice and game. Coach Mears taught us to stay humble when winning and to always respect all opponents, yet to fear none.
Most of all, however, Coach Mears made us understand the power inherent in the pursuit of excellence. He pushed us hard to live that way every single day and he always set a great example.
While time, space and words are woefully inadequate when testifying to the value of the Tiger basketball experience, it is safe to say that all of us gained far more from it than we gave. This great legacy has been carried on for more than 50 years. Bill Brown, our current coach, is now asking our help to keep the pursuit of excellence at the highest level for current and future Tigers.
Let's all make a commitment to pitch in and support the Wittenberg Tiger Men’s Basketball Endowment.
Eldon Miller ‘61
Assistant Basketball Coach