HARRAH — Harrah tennis coach Jim Miller isn't looking for any sympathy from anybody.
With the schedule he's had over the last couple of months, Miller definitely needs a break. But when you have the jobs he does, well, he can wait until the summer.
Because right now, Miller is simply having too much fun.
Four years ago Miller was known simply as the tennis guy for the Panthers. He is also the school's speech teacher and had done a lot of the public address announcing for Harrah athletics.
However, three years ago, Miller had a new title — the PA announcer for the Oklahoma City Thunder. He was one of three finalists selected after a public audition at Bricktown Brewery and later did a tryout at the then-Ford Center before being told he had the job.
Three years ago, nobody really considered the possibility of a Thunder playoff run coinciding with the state tennis tournament.
It's no longer a possibility — it's here. With the success of the Thunder, Miller is doing a juggling act between handling the announcing duties and still leading the Panthers on the court.
“It's a life that doesn't involve much sleep,” Miller said. “It's a lot of fun, and it's been very gratifying. Sometimes the trash doesn't get taken out at the house, but I'm having a ball.”
Miller still takes his tennis coaching responsibilities seriously. Every year, he sets out a certain goal for his boys and girls teams to reach. And every year, the Panthers keep making more and more strides.
It's gone from making just one point at the state tournament a couple of years ago to qualifying all six players at state.
The girls did just that Monday. For the first time since the 1990s, Harrah will have all six girls playing at least two matches at the state tournament this weekend at the OKC Tennis Center. Anchoring the team is senior Chelsea Robinson, who has signed with Central Oklahoma to play basketball.
“I give the kids a lot of credit because they've put in a lot of hard work over the years,” Miller said. “Of my 12 starters (six boys, six girls), nine are seniors, and they understand about this moment. We've come a long way, and we're doing something right.”
A strange set of circumstances had to occur for the state tournament and Thunder to never have conflicting dates, but it happened.
The Thunder is the higher seeded team in the Western Conference semifinals, so there are no home games this weekend. Next weekend, a potential Game 6 could happen Friday. That's the first day of the boys state tournament, but that game would be in Memphis.
Though no dates conflict, it's meant Miller has been running around like crazy every single day.
“He has done an outstanding job of balancing things,” Harrah athletic director Guy Worth said. “He's made a lot of plans in advance, and we're happy to help him out however we have to.”
Miller said he always had a dream of being a radio or public address announcer for a major college or professional sports team. But the tennis program at Harrah has also meant a lot to him.
Under Miller's guidance and support from the kids, Harrah now has a junior high tennis program. Miller said he believes the program is still on the rise.
Though the Harrah students are used to Miller being the Thunder guy, it's still definitely a sense of pride for Harrah to see one of its own a part of something so special.
“It's neat to hear his voice on TV,” Worth said. “My son is in fourth grade, and he's like ‘I know that guy.'
“Here's a guy from Byng. I remember when Jim was doing play-by-play of East Central football games. It has let people know that if you want to do something special, practice your craft. You never know what is going to happen.”