Miles Loves Coaching Local Little Leaguers
Rick Miles always wants to make sure that his players are getting an enjoyable experience out of playing Little League baseball, and this summer was no different for the Chester resident. Rick served as a coach for the Deep River-Chester-Essex (DR-C-E) 10-U Minors All-Stars baseball team and guided the club through an exciting and fulfilling summer season.
Rick began coaching men’s softball with his friends in 1991. Rick, a Middletown resident at the time, found a passion for coaching and also helped form a flag football league in town. Rick’s uncle Joe Walden served as a big inspiration due to his approach to the game, the strategies he taught, and how much he loved the sport. Rick has incorporated everything that Walden taught him into his own coaching philosophy.
“Everyone is different, so you can’t coach the same to every kid on your team. I bring that to my work, as well,” says Rick. “It’s a team, so you still have to have that team atmosphere, and you push towards that. The overall picture is patience, competitiveness, and sportsmanship.”
In 2003, Rick started coaching his two daughters, Cassie and Ashley, as they grew up playing softball, basketball, and soccer. Rick loved being able to coach both of them, along with his son Ricky.
“The most rewarding part is painting a picture of the beginning of the season to the end and seeing how the kids grow and develop,” Rick says. “That camaraderie with the team, I wanted not only my kids to experience that, but everyone else I coach, as well.”
Rick earned his Connecticut coaching certification in 2009 and then coached softball at John Winthrop Middle School for three years. After taking a break, Miles began coaching his son Ricky in what is now the DR-C-E Little League in 2017. Chester, where Ricky started playing, had its own Little League back then, but then merged with Deep River and Essex a few years ago.
Rick has continued to coach in the league over the years and took on the role of leading an All-Stars team once again in 2022. After his 10-U baseball squad posted a record of 7-5-1 during its regular season, the team competed in the District 9 Tournament at the beginning of July. Although his team took a few losses in the tournament, Rick felt that his group was fortunate to have the opportunity to take on strong competition.
“We hosted All-Stars in Chester for the first time. We brought our own team that played throughout the [regular] season, and they did great,” says Rick, who also took on the role of the league’s treasurer this year. “Unfortunately, we were quite overmatched by the other teams, who had a bigger pool to pull from, but I think it was great experience for the kids, especially for the ones that may not ever have that opportunity again.”
DR-C-E Little League president Beth Knox, who coached the 12-U All-Stars baseball squad this year, describes Rick as a quality role model for the athletes in the program. Knox says that Rick is always focused on having his players get the most out of their experience.
“You can know the insides and outs of baseball, but not everybody can coach it. Rick has that ability to coach the kids, so that they’re learning and understanding what it is that he’s trying to teach them,” Knox says. “He’s trying to teach them the game of baseball, but also how to be part of the team and how to work together as a team, because you can’t win at baseball if everybody’s playing for themselves. He makes it so that the kids understand that it is a team sport.”
Rick felt proud of his All-Stars for how they handled the challenges that they faced this year. Most of all, Rick was impressed with the growth that his team showed as its season unfolded.
“We started off slow, but the kids came a long way. The practices are geared towards getting playing time for the kids with not as much of experience,” says Rick. “It’s always great to see, after the first couple practices of the season, how the kids grow, get better, and get more confidence as the season goes along.”
Rick applauds the efforts of his players this summer, but also acknowledges that the team wouldn’t have had such an enjoyable season without the help of his fellow coaches. Keith Lundgren, Perry Gardner, Tom MacLean, and Rene Carrasquillo have worked with Rick for multiple seasons. Rick feels beyond appreciative for their presence in the dugout.
“It’s great to have more parents be involved. At the beginning of the season, I didn’t think I’d be able to coach because of my job and traveling, but if I do have to miss a practice or a game, I have a good group of guys that could step in at any time and lead the team,” Rick says. “It’s great to have that support.”
Rick’s passion for coaching came to fruition thanks to the many inspirations in his life. With his own kids’ love for playing sports, coupled with continued support from his wife Heather, Rick hopes to keep making a difference for Little Leaguers in three towns where baseball continues gaining popularity.
“I’ll continue coaching and volunteering on the board. It’s grown the past three, four, five years. It’s been growing, and we see that in the signups,” says Rick. “Obviously, I’m going to follow it through while my son is still playing and maybe continue after. This is a passion for me.”