Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Great Ken Miller Story

Actually, there are two great Ken Miller stories I have come across today. At the news conference this morning featuring the two coaches, Miller revealed he is a prostate cancer survivor. He is also very good with a paintbrush in his hand. Here's a story from Terry Jones of the Edmonton Sun that is a great read.

He's the Rembrandt of Regina.
The Picasso of the Prairies.
Who knew?
Ken Miller, who will coach the Saskatchewan Roughriders in Sunday's Grey Cup, is a man who is still largely undiscovered by the nation.
But Sun Media has discovered the 68-year-old second-year head coach is an accomplished painter of hundreds of landscapes, several of which have sold for as much as $1,500 U.S.
And that isn't to even mention his bonsai plants.
Miller is a man of few words who has not exactly been revealing of himself.
For that reason, last week in Regina your correspondent spent an entire practice sitting in the stands with Maureen, the delightful wife of the head coach. There I believed the essence of Ken Miller had been revealed to me.
Turns out she was just skimming the surface.
Maureen Miller subsequently produced the pictures which accompany today's column, some of the excellent landscape oil paintings and pencil line drawings created by her husband.
His players have no idea that their head coach has produced such works of art. But if the man keeps having this sort of success with the team, everybody in Saskatchewan will want to have "a Miller" on their walls. Heck, somebody might even give him a couple grand to paint their barn. You know, on canvas. For framing. What Saskatchewan fan wouldn't want to be able to brag that the Roughriders head coach painted his barn.
And if the barn was a classic, with the right lines and maybe one of those famed Saskatchewan sunsets in the background, the coach might actually come out and do it.
Miller won't be giving many one-on-one interviews this week. But the head painter and bonsai sculptor sat down and spoke of the passion of painting.
"It goes back to high school and biology class," he said.
"One of the reasons I got through biology in high school was that after dissecting things I was able to make illustrations.
"Sometime in the early '80s I actually became really interested in oil painting. At the time I was a school administrator and part-time coach and I took some classes.
"It takes a certain amount of energy in it's own right and I haven't been able to do it since I've become head coach in Saskatchewan. But I have the canvas, paint and everything in my house in Regina and I'm hoping to find some time to paint again.
"I've done hundreds of them but sold most of them. Most of them have been landscapes but I'm interested in doing portraits."
The man who grew up on a 4,000 acre farm combine in Oregon, managed college baseball teams and has had a multi-faceted career path, says his inspiration to paint again is Saskatchewan, the flatlands many see as being endless miles of nothing.
"There are no more fascinating skies anywhere than we have in Saskatchewan. Wind rows, grain elevators, there's tremendous subject matter," he said.
As for bonsai plant sculpturing ... "I went to a show and was fascinated with that. I loved it. It's a real art form in Japan and China."
Maureen said she "almost cried" when the two decided to have a Canadian coaching experience, not because they were leaving California to come north but because of the bonsai plants.
"He had to leave behind almost 40 plants," she said.
And what, you might ask, does any of this have to do with football?
"I think it does," said Miller.
"I approach coaching from a little different perspective."
He's teaching football as an art.
"I teach a little more theory and a little more about the 'Why?' part of it. It's very satisfying when you're a coach and somebody like our young quarterback Darian Durant has what I call an 'Ah hah!' moment. An 'I get it now' moment.
When they learn it on their own, they have ownership."
Then they have the inspiration to paint their masterpiece.
"He's a very special man," said Maureen.

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