Earning her respect

Published 8:56 pm Saturday, March 12, 2011

Rangers manager Traci Miller conducts a fielding drill with her team at Bennett’s Creek Little League. Miller is the league’s first female major league baseball manager.

Traci Miller knows how to listen and make herself heard.

Miller is serving as the Bennett’s Creek Little League’s first female major league baseball manager.

“For about a year, [God] has been saying, ‘You need to do more than what you are doing,’” she said. “Sometimes you’ve got to shut up and listen. So that’s what I did.”

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Miller began playing softball and other sports at age 10. She continued playing sports into her 30s, when she became too busy with her young children to continue playing.

“I love sports of any kind,” she said. “I’ve played sports my whole life, so I know the game.”

There was just one thing that was missing, though — coaching.

“It’s always been one of those things I wanted to do for a long time,” Miller said.

Lorri Kitchens, the player agent at Bennett’s Creek Little League, approached Miller about coaching only a few days after Miller and her husband had been discussing the possibility of her coaching a team.

At the time, she was concerned that if she became a coach, she might not get to watch her three children play ball. Her husband suggested that she coach baseball at Bennett’s Creek, so that she could live out her calling while also spending time with her children.

Initially, Miller was concerned that the boys would not respect her as their coach. But after talking with Kitchens and her husband, she signed on.

Miller has been coaching the Rangers for nearly three weeks now. The league and parents have all been very supportive, and her players respect her as their coach.

“They are listening, responding and trying. I’m really enjoying it,” she said.

Working with the 10-12 age range is perfect for Miller, she said, because the competitive aspects of the game are becoming more important to them.

“I’m one of those people where I don’t like sports if it’s not competitive,” she said. “You are playing to win in the majors.”

But, she added, “I don’t care if we don’t win, if you give me 100 percent.”

Frank Ittel, vice president of Bennett’s Creek Little League, said he has great respect for the way Miller fulfilled a need that the league had.

“She really stepped up this year. If it wasn’t for her, there wouldn’t be a team,” he said.

“I love sports, so I’m excited about it,” she said. “I’ve got a good group of guys.”