Assistant Coach, Connersville high School
J.D. Miller has been an assistant coach in the Connersville High School basketball program for the past 15 seasons and a fixture for more than 30 years in the Fayette County community.
Miller, president and owner of H & E Machine in Connersville, has served as an assistant for the past 14 season for Spartans’ head coach Kerry Brown after one season on the staff of previous coach Rodney Klein. Before that, Miller coached youth and travel basketball teams that included Connersville players for another 10 years. Thus, Miller has been named an IBCA Assistant Coach of the Year for 2023.
“J.D. has been a loyal, hard-working, assistant coach and friend for 14 years,” Brown said. “I feel as if he is more of a brother than a friend or colleague. It is nearly impossible to do justice to him in writing about him.
“He is a Christian first and foremost, and he is such a great example for the players in our program. His story of going from working for a family member in construction to owning his own business due to his hard work and positive attitude is a great inspiration for the players on our team. His messages to the team during scouting reports, practices or when things aren't going our way always reflect his positive mentality and approach to life.”
An Iowa native, Miller is a 1985 graduate of Mt. Pleasant High School and spent much of his teenage years working on his family farm. After high school, he earned an associate’s degree from Southeastern Community College in Burlington, Iowa.
Miller and his wife, Lisa, moved to her hometown of Connersville in 1990, and the family quickly became a part of the community. He began working at H & E Machine in 1994, then became the firm’s owner in 2007.
By 1998, Miller started coaching youth basketball teams that included his son Zach and later his son Ty. Miller joined Klein’s high school basketball staff in 2008-09, then stayed onboard when Brown became Spartans’ head coach the following season. Both of Miller’s sons played for the Spartans, Zach graduating in 2011 and Ty graduating in 2015). Zach and Ty each went on to play at Bethel University in Mishawaka.
“I feel blessed to have the opportunity to coach in this community,” said Miller, who has been on the bench for 237 victories, 133 setbacks and with Brown for sectional titles in 2016, 2017 and 2021. “Of course, there have been highs and lows with regard to wins and losses, but I have enjoyed every minute of being a part of the Connersville program.”
Brown further explained Miller’s contribution to Connersville basketball and the community at large.
“J.D.’s business provides jobs for approximately 45 employees in an economically deprived community,” Brown said. “He has helped support the community, school and church through monetary contributions as well as giving of his time and effort.
“He and a number of other individuals contributed funds to make sure the local golf course did not go bankrupt. When the group returned the money they had borrowed, he told them he did not want any interest or payment beyond what he had loaned them. His goal was to make sure our community did not lose our golf course. … He is such a great example for the young men in our program.”
Specific to Connersville basketball, Brown noted that Miller has given to the program in ways that include:
>> Providing the materials and manpower to renovate our boys’ basketball locker room.
>> Being a corporate sponsor for the high school athletic department.
>> Fund-raising for needed equipment for our basketball program.
>> Mentoring, counseling and coaching young men who grow up in one of the poorest counties in Indiana.
>> Purchasing meals for our team numerous times.
“J.D.’s dedication to me and our program is second to none,” Brown said. “He has been beside me for 14 years at 6:00 a.m. summer workouts, camps, youth leagues, scouting, practices, fund-raisers and games. He is a person who leads by example and gives of himself to assist and help others grow into productive young men. I feel so strongly about his assistance and friendship, when he gets out of coaching, I will as well.”