Ashburn, Va. — After leading his team to a dramatic VHSL 5A state championship in 2017, Briar Woods High School head baseball coach Jason Miller announced his resignation from his post on August 24.
During his seven year tenure at Briar Woods, Miller led the Falcons to an 84-73 record, including a 20-7 finish in 2017. Finishing 4-4 in the Conference 14 regular season, Briar Woods – led by All-LoCo Player of the Year Michael Ludowig – rallied off seven straight postseason wins to claim the Conference 14, VHSL 5A North region and VHSL 5A state championship crowns.
Miller took over the Briar Woods program in 2010, before leading the Falcons to their first league championship in 2016. Prior to taking the reins at Briar Woods, Miller was a varsity assistant at Radford, Sherando, Park View and Heritage High Schools.
Briar Woods is one several Loudoun programs to lose their head baseball coach in 2017. Heritage High School hired former varsity assistant Tom Orrell, Mat Shannon became the third coach in Stone Bridge High School history and, most recently, John Champe High School tabbed former Broad Run assistant Michael Prince to lead the Knights. The Falcons are still seeking their next head coach.
Upon his departure, LoCoSports editor-in-chief Owen Gotimer sat down with Miller to give us the scoop: inside the huddle.
Owen Gotimer: First of all, congratulations on all of your dedication, hard work and success as the head coach of the Briar Woods baseball team. You took over the Falcons program for the 2011 season. Why are you stepping down after seven years?
Jason Miller: It was a really difficult decision. My kids are now 5 and 7 and both in their own activities. My wife and I were spread really thin last spring. Things were going really fast and it was like a whirlwind to me.
I remember being in the moment and realizing how hectic it was. I didn’t want to make a decision until after the season. Of course, as everything played out, the season went to its max, and we won the state championship. Then, with all those good feelings, I didn’t want to think about anything until we got back to school.
On our last teacher work day before students came back I made the decision to tell Mr. [Jerry] Carter that I didn’t think it was in the best interest for me or the program to come back because the grind was starting back up again in the fall with my family schedule.
Gotimer: I can only imagine how difficult the decision was. But was your decision to leave more or less difficult after winning the VHSL 5A state title in 2017?
Miller: People talk a lot about going out on top. I don’t know if it made it easier or if it made it harder. I took the job at Briar Woods when my oldest son was 9-months-old. I wanted nothing more than being a head varsity baseball coach and I’m so thankful that Jerry Carter gave me that opportunity.
I love the Briar Woods program. I don’t know if anything made the decision easy. But, at least, the state championship made it feel like we were riding off into the sunset with some type of accomplishment. The state championship makes me feel proud of what we were able to accomplish at Briar Woods, but it was still hard to walk away from those guys.
Gotimer: You have obviously created great relationships with your players, fellow coaches, administrators and the Briar Woods community over the last seven years. How do you think you’ve shaped the baseball culture at Briar Woods?
Miller: When I came to Briar Woods, it was a school that was relatively new. Some of the other teams were already starting to have success. My first year at Briar Woods, our football team won its first state championship. There was a culture building there that was tremendously exciting.
When I first met my players, they were at every after school commitment, every winter hitting session; they were hungry for success.
But early on, the reputation of the baseball program was that of losing. The kids always felt like we were going to end up losing out. We really had to change the culture of being proud of being Briar Woods baseball players. And here we are today, where kids walk down the hallway proudly, being members of our program. That’s something we really couldn’t say seven years ago.
Gotimer: So what’s next?
Miller: My goal right now is to enjoy the time with my kids. I’m spending a lot of time coaching my son’s teams. If I were able to become the baseball coach at his high school or if way down the road when I’m older and he’s done playing the game, I would consider coaching again.
Gotimer: Without giving your athletes too much insider knowledge, do you mind sharing your most embarrassing moment in sports?
Miller: During my first year at Briar Woods, we would play the national anthem off an iPod that the managers had. We were playing Broad Run – our big rival. We were really ready for the game after losing to them earlier in the season. They were starting Taylor Clarke and we were starting Charlie Fletcher, who was a freshman. It was our moment to really compete.
The starting line ups were read out and we were all standing on the lines waiting for the national anthem to be played, and when our manager hit the play button, it played a rap song with some explicit lyrics. I remember going into the AD’s office to talk to Coach Carter the next day, and the first thing he said to me was ‘Hey. That version of the national anthem you got – the one you played yesterday – don’t play that one anymore.’