Hi! My name is Dan Miller. I am an Assistant Coach for the Chattahoochee Grippers. The Grippers serve the southwest suburbs of Atlanta. We have a relatively small team, but expect booming growth in our area over the next few years and we are glad to serve the community by putting more kids on bikes! I absolutely love being a coach and I am grateful for the opportunity to tell you why, but before I go any further I want to first thank all those who are involved with this great organization. If there is one thing I know when it comes to biking, it’s that there’s no better reward than seeing a young person find joy, confidence and companionship through riding bikes. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. What we do as coaches, supporters, families and friends is much more than a hobby. We are cultivators of the next generation.
I started with the league back in 2016. Prior to becoming a coach I had grown to love the sport of mountain biking through means of my good friend and our local weatherman, Kent McMullen. Kent introduced me to the sport back around 2009. Then, I had no clue that this sport would become something so rewarding. Like many of us adults, I grew up cruising the streets of my neighborhood on my Piranna BMX bike alongside my best friend. Biking wasn’t a sport to me, it was just what I did to pass the time and have fun. And like you, I have many epic stories of those neighborhood voyages. And even a couple scars to go with them;)
Since mountain biking wasn’t a sport for me, I played baseball. I grew up dreaming of, one day, becoming an Atlanta Brave and playing alongside Chipper Jones. I played ball for 11 years before moving on to my next passion, fixing cars. I have been turning wrenches for 17 years now. Currently, I am a Ground Maintenance Mechanic/Safety Specialist for Delta Airlines. I am responsible for the proper operation of Ground Support Equipment at Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson International Airport. Basically, we fix anything that has an engine and wheels, and doesn’t fly. While my career has been extremely rewarding, finding the sport of biking has added value to my life beyond anything I could have dreamt of. Discovering the Georgia League, however, has taken that passion to new levels.
How did you get involved with the Georgia League?
One day I got a message from my neighbor telling me about a young man who was recently just getting into the sport of mountain biking and needed someone to ride with. They told told he wanted to get involved with a youth mountain bike league that was just beginning and thought I could offer some assistance in getting him involved. That young man would go on to become my connection to the League. Thanks to the encouragement of a few friends, our League Director Kenny Griffin, and several other members of the League leadership, I would go on to serve as Team Director, Head Coach and now Assistant Coach.
How has your involvement changed your life and the lives around you?
I’m not sure I can fit the value of being a coach and mentor to our youth into some words on a screen, but I’ll do my best. Becoming a coach has taught me several things about life.
First, we were never meant to live this life on our own. Becoming a better person takes a village. We are a product of the seeds that have been sown into our lives over the course of our years by many different people. For those of us who are fortunate enough to have someone that was willing to take the time to share their passion and encouragement with us, we are indebted. Not necessarily to that person, but to the next person that we have the opportunity to do the same for. Becoming a coach has given me that opportunity.
Second, being a coach has rewarded me by simply being able to witness the joy in our youth. It’s, the laughter behind me when I’m leading a group of our riders out on the trail. Sometimes it’s that look of confidence when a rider has just cleared that climb they’ve been trying conquer. Other times it’s as simple as seeing them making new friends on that first day of practice.
Third, I have found new growth in my personal life because of my relationships with our team. Our team has become family to me. I have a wonderful family. But there is an added necessity to life when you come together with other people who love bikes just as much as you! I can’t imagine not having that part of my family there now.
What do you wish others knew about the Georgia League and its effects on our athletes and parents?
Well, like I said, it takes a village. The beauty of that is, the League is a village of its own. Everywhere you look on race day with the Georgia League you will find people sowing seeds. Whether it’s a coach who is giving advice, a parent who is preparing food, a core staff member who is directing traffic or a supporter who is providing services, there is always someone adding value to our youth. If I could just get people to see the effect this League is having on those young people, I would be happy!
In closing I’d just like to say thank you again, to all those who make this League possible! May you find joy and growth because of your connections with your teams. I’m confident that we will rise above our obstacles and we will find faith, hope and love because of them. God bless and stay safe!