Ron Miller Obituary, Death – Ron Miller, who founded the NCAA fencing program at the University of North Carolina and led it for more than 50 years, died unexpectedly. He was 78. Miller’s influence on the fencing world was substantial and long-lasting, both within and outside of the University of North Carolina. Miller’s teams won 1,602 games during his 52-year coaching career, a monument to his extraordinary coaching ability and tenacious spirit. Some compared Miller to renowned UNC basketball coach Dean Smith as his time at Carolina progressed. When Smith departed in 1997, Miller became Carolina’s longest-tenured coach across all sports.
It’s an even more impressive performance when you realize that fencing wasn’t even an NCAA sport at Carolina when Miller arrived. Fencing had been a university club activity for over a century when, in 1967, the chairman of the physical education department hired Miller with an eye toward the NCAA. Miller was assured, “If you do well, I’ll find a way to help you go varsity,” according to this Carolina website report. “This is how it’s going to be,” Miller informed the 25 people who turned out for the first tryout. We’re going to get varsity, so you should act like a varsity team. We’ll put our skills to the test.
We’ll put forth a lot of effort. To make this happen, we will take all necessary step. How many of you would like to remain? Miller recalled that three persons raised their hands. The remainder “left.” Miller began recruiting wherever he could, from young people participating in pick-up basketball games to students taking fencing for PE credit. His squad went 8-1 overall and won the Southeast Collegiate Fencing Conference. The team’s transition to varsity status was finished in the 1970–71 campaign. Carolina started funding epee teams to participate in the Atlantic Coast Conference, where they have remained a formidable force on the field and in the classroom (Miller’s teams never had a GPA below 3.0).
Miller was inducted into the USA Fencing Hall of Fame’s Class of 2023 at the 2022 Summer Nationals in Minneapolis after being selected for the honor by his fellow fencers. The iconic coach was present to accept the award from Matt Jednak, who took over as UNC coach after Miller’s retirement following the 2018–19 season. In a moving address at the occasion, Jednak recalled how Miller advised he enroll in a course called Fencing II, which covered how to give and take a lesson, when he was a student at UNC. It didn’t seem like much at the time. I was picking up new skills and getting better at them, Jednak recalled.
But now that I’m a coach myself, I can understand how effective this connection was. As coaches, we create these opportunities and strategically exercise our sway. “My experience is not exceptional, but it is significant because it put me on the route I’m on right now. As his successor, I now find myself interacting with the upcoming Carolina fencing generation using similar beliefs and values. Miller spent the majority of his time thanking others that evening when he won the honor, particularly his other coaches. He said, “I did as you said.” “I’ve watched you labor and practice your art.
I’ve learned from that, too. I haven’t plagiarized your work, but I have modified and used it to benefit my athletes and further the sport of fencing. The coach took some time to consider how many lives he had impacted throughout his career and how he had also set an excellent example for others. “I taught fencing classes for 42 of the 52 years I coached at Carolina,” he stated. “I had 40 pupils in each of my six to eight classes each semester. My teams had an annual average of 20 to 70 athletes during my time as a team coach. Incorporate such student-athletes with the fencers he mentors at clubs, competitions, camps, and elsewhere.