(KWWL) – A man who believes you can win them all was looking for his final “W” Saturday night.
Wartburg College’s Jim Miller coached his final wrestling meet Saturday at the NCAA Division III National Championships. Miller has been leading the Knights since 1991, racking up nine national championships going into this weekend’s finals and his lessons go beyond victory on the mat.
The man is a legend at Wartburg College. Miller has led the wrestling team to 15 consecutive Iowa Conference Championships. He’s been coaching since 1991 and now, he’s ready to end his coaching career.
“It’s been a great journey and it’s been a great blessing,” said Miller. “I feel very fortunate.”
Wartburg wrestlers consider themselves a family. Many came to Cedar Rapids to watch Miller coach on the final day of his career.
“He’s Wartburg wrestling.,” said Justin McClintock, Wartburg Class of 2005. “The most motivational person and the best influence I’ve ever been around.”
The alums included Tom Hogan, the very first wrestler Miller coached to a national championship.
“That was special for me and I think it was special for him.” said Hogan. “It was a time where Wartburg, we kind of started putting our footprint on the map as far as wrestling goes.”
Hogan now coaches wrestling at Don Bosco High School. He’s one of about 100 former Knights who now coach wrestling.
“I took what he’s taught us in the wrestling room and in life and tried to model it in my coaching high school,” said Hogan.
Miller won two Division II National Championships as a wrestler at the University of Northern Iowa.
Family members say Miller’s work ethic is what made him a success.
“Jim wasn’t one of those guys who had all this magic ability,” said Bobby Miller, Jim’s older brother. “He just worked that hard.”
He’s taught his wrestlers how to work hard on, and off, the mat.
“You just kind of learn after you’re done with wrestling that he set you up for success,” said McClintock. “Every day you’re practicing and using his lessons that he taught you.”
Miller ended his career with one final victory, a tenth team National Championship for the Knights.
“It hasn’t really sunk in yet, you know, but my last practice Tuesday was pretty emotional and I’m sure tonight will be,” said Miller.
It was a final win for the coach who wanted to win them all.