SUPERIOR — Brian Miller, it is said, always was one to take advantage of an opportunity.
Whether it was in business, family or just playing cards, he liked to strike while the iron was hot.
That’s the recollection of Miller’s family, now raising money for a dedicated strength and conditioning facility for Superior athletes following Brian’s unexpected death on Jan. 14, 2017.
Brian, a 1984 graduate of Superior High School, was an accomplished multis-port athlete who went on to play football for the Nebraska Cornhuskers from 1984-89. He was one of the first athletes to train and practice on the current weight/wrestling deck, located in the junior high gym, in the early 1980s.
Nothing has changed on the weight deck since then, Miller’s family said — except that more students want to use the school’s equipment to lift and train.
Currently, equipment has to be moved in and out of storage. Some drills can be done only during certain times of the school year. Meanwhile, wrestling practice has to be done in shifts to accommodate the high school and junior high wrestlers. The wrestling mats have to be cleaned twice a month since the space is used for weightlifting, also.
With this predicament in mind, the Miller family is leading the effort to memorialize Brian with construction of a new weights building on the Superior school campus.
“The time to get something done is long overdue,” the family said in a statement.
Plans for the new facility are being made by Brian’s brother Kevin, who is athletic director at Superior Public Schools. The new space, called the Brian Miller Memorial Strength and Conditioning Facility, will be a 42-by-80-foot Morton building and will house the school’s present weight equipment.
Saathoff Construction of Superior bid $275,000 for the construction job, and the bid has been accepted. Ground was broken April 7.
Up to now, $200,000 has been raised for the project. Additional fundraisers will be needed to complete the work.
The building will provide a designated area for polymeric, agility and stretching activities. It will be located on the south corner of the junior high gym and won’t be attached to the school. The facility will allow for year-round use of all the strength and conditioning equipment and will be used by all junior and senior high school student-athletes. Restrooms will be available.
“The goal is to have a facility where student-athletes can train year-round to improve strength, agility and explosiveness,” the family said.
Once the weight training equipment has its own space, the deck in the junior high gym will be used exclusively for wrestling practice by both senior high and junior high athletes.
Brian Miller, the son of Jim and Donna Miller, grew up at Hardy. His athletic accomplishments early in life included two state high school championships in the shot put. He also was the starting catcher who hit a home run in the championship game for the American Legion baseball team. In his obituary, his family recalled that he once defeated an opponent who outweighed him by 150 pounds at the state high school wrestling championships.
Brian and Kevin Miller both walked onto the Nebraska football team in the mid-1980s. Brian, who played linebacker, lettered in his senior season before graduating from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1989 with a degree in agribusiness. Kevin lettered the following season as a defensive tackle.
After college, Brian helped coach football at Superior High School and later at Mid-Prairie High School near Wellman, Iowa, 18 miles south of Iowa City.
Brian’s career included ag chemical sales and work as an investment representative for Edward Jones Inc. He and his wife, Raelyn, had two sons, Tanner and Reid, and two daughters, Hannah and Ciarra. The Millers lived at Kalona, Iowa, at the time of Brian’s death at age 51.
Brian was a member of the Sharon Center United Methodist Church in Kalona. In the obituary, his family remembered him as a dedicated husband and father.
“Brian loved his family and supported each and every one of them with a dedication similar to the one he had for his wife,” the family said in his obituary.
Tax-deductible donations for the strength and conditioning building may be directed to the Superior Public Schools Foundation in care of the Brian Miller Memorial Strength and Conditioning Facility, 601 W. Eighth St., Superior, NE 68978.