Who says you can’t go home again?
After four seasons as the freshman and JV volleyball coach at Powell High School, Powell native and former Lady Panther Tasha Miller will take the reins of …
Who says you can’t go home again?
After four seasons as the freshman and JV volleyball coach at Powell High School, Powell native and former Lady Panther Tasha Miller will take the reins of the varsity squad next season. Miller is replacing coach Randi Bonander, who stepped down late last month after three seasons to spend more time with family.
“I look forward to building a program in which our athletes feel inspired to play their best,” Miller said of the opportunity. “I want each athlete I coach to feel listened to and supported. I was lucky to have a coach in high school that believed in me and pushed me to do my best, and it’s my hope to do the same.”
Miller, formerly Tasha Bjornestad of Powell, had a storied career on the volleyball court for the Lady Panthers. A three-time All-Conference and All-State selection, the 2004 graduate had several college offers coming out of high school but chose to stay close to home, signing with Northwest College. After two seasons as a Lady Trapper, Miller decided to forgo continuing her playing career and start a family. A move to Utah followed, where Miller got her first taste of coaching experience.
“While in Utah I was able to help the local high school as a hitting and blocking specialty coach and also coached a club team for a season,” she said. “The club teams there have a six-month season, so I only coached it for a year and decided it would best to wait until my children were older to get back into it.”
Miller moved back to Powell in late 2013, and volunteered to coach club volleyball that following spring. In fall of 2015, she was asked to lead that same group of players as the freshman coach at PHS; she became the head JV coach in 2016.
Longtime PHS coach and new activities director Scott McKenzie said Miller will be a welcome addition to the varsity coaching ranks, and looks forward to the energy and enthusiasm she will bring to the program.
“Tasha [Miller] is going to continue sharing her strong passion for volleyball as she moves up to head coach,” McKenzie said. “She has a solid knowledge base in volleyball, and we are excited to watch the product that she will put on the floor next fall.”
Miller inherits a Lady Panthers squad that qualified for the state tournament last season for the first time in years, though that roster was decimated by graduation. Gone will be All-Conference players Rachel Bonander and Hartly Thorington and All-State player Aubrie Stenerson, leaving some big shoes to fill by players with little to no varsity experience. Miller knows she has her work cut out for her, but is confident she has the talent to be a factor in the 3A Northwest Quadrant.
“I think our biggest challenge will be preparing these girls for the varsity level of play,” Miller explained. “We had nine seniors last year, and that didn’t open the play up to many of our younger girls. With only a couple of girls having a small amount of varsity experience, it will be a challenge, but I know these girls have it in them to go far this year.”
Miller hit the ground running in her first week as the head of the Lady Panthers program, hosting the Gold Medal Squared Volleyball Camp last week at PHS. The week-long camp was facilitated by Gold Medal Squared, described on its website as “collaborative effort of some of our country's most successful and experienced coaches ... created with one goal in mind — improving the quality of volleyball players and volleyball coaches.” It’s the first time the GMS team had conducted a camp in Powell, and Miller said the experience will prove invaluable.
“This is the first GMS camp we have had, and it was an amazing opportunity for our athletes,” she said. “The improvement in the girls in that short amount of time was noticeable. They also provided me and my coaching staff with so many great tools to help our girls achieve their best.”
With the start of the 2019 season just a couple of months away, Miller reflected on what she enjoys the most about coaching as she prepares to lead the team she found so much success with as a player.
“I enjoy seeing the girls learn new skills, compete and have fun,” she said. “It’s very rewarding to see the excitement in a player’s eyes when you’ve been working with her on a specific skill and it finally clicks. I also love seeing an athlete’s confidence increase when they’ve stepped outside their comfort zone and accomplished something they didn’t think they could.”