|UNC Fencing Coach Ron Miller
The University of North Carolina, an institution rich in both academic and athletic tradition, experienced
many changes during the last forty plus years. Chancellors, faculty members and coaches have come and
gone. Old buildings have been razed and new buildings erected. Yet there is one athletic program on
campus still guided by the same strong hand that forged it. Today's visitors to Fetzer Gym can still hear the
same booming voice that once echoed through Carmichael Auditorium and the old "tin can," where fencing
classes first formed at Carolina.
Coach Ron Miller came to Carolina in 1967 as a physical education instructor. The Kentucky native, who
grew up in Florida, brought knowledge of a sport virtually unknown to a southern campus bred on
basketball and football. Not only did Miller impart that knowledge to countless students in physical
education classes, he established and maintained the South's dominant fencing program.
Miller's encouragement and charismatic coaching style were enough to lure athletes to the fledgling
program that offered no scholarships or campus fanfare. The requisite hard work and dedicated effort that
Miller demanded, however, gave rise to a unique skill in athletes drawn to the speed and discipline of
More than fencing lessons have been learned from the 69 year-old Miller through the years at Carolina.
His teams' 47 year record, 1271 - 601, proves that many acquired the skills that helped them learn about
winning. Thirteen of Miller's students achieved All-American status many more than once. Four Carolina
fencers were U.S. National Fencing Team members, while two were Olympians. Yet Miller, the Collegiate
Coach of the Year in 1983 and 1986, has never been one to track his teams' win-loss totals. Members of
past and present Carolina fencing teams say they have learned through Coach Miller about what it takes
to be a winner in life, not just about attacking and ripostes.
Fencing is a sport that is inherently individual, but Miller's teams are close-knit crews. Drills and practice
matches are expressly team-oriented. Carolina's fencers are schooled in a manner that encourages
support among teammates who square off against each other during training. Special friendships
invariably develop throughout Miller's squads during weeks of practice and hours of travel to distant
Now in his 47th season as Carolina's fencing coach, Miller's inspirational dedication to his school, his
sport, and his teams has come to be recognized as being as impressive as that of another longtime
Miller's influence on his fencing squads parallels that of legendary basketball coach Dean Smith's impact
on former basketball players and coaches. Smith's October 9, 1997, retirement left Miller as the most
tenured coach at Carolina.
The scene at Smith's retirement announcement, which featured former and current players overflowing
with veneration, appreciation and gratitude, was repeated just nine days later in the same building at a
tribute for Miller.
More than 140 former fencers, whose numbers included team members from nearly every squad since
1968, gathered at the Dean E. Smith Center on October 18, 1997, to celebrate and honor Miller's tenure.
Words like commitment, dedication and integrity, all uttered in the same building for another coach so
recently, were spoken in homage of Ron Miller. NCAA champion fencer, 1992 Olympic fencer and 1983
Carolina alumnus John Friedberg, in thanking Miller, called the Carolina program a "unique, special
environment to learn in."
Friedberg and the other assembled alumni used the occasion to announce the formation of a new fencing
association that will support Miller's fencing teams in the future. A fencing endowment fund will be used to
improve Carolina's fencing facilities and equipment in the coming years.
Former fencers have not only contributed money to Miller's program, but many are still active in a sport
that most had not encountered before they met Miller. Eight of Miller's former fencers have at one time led
their own college fencing programs.
More than just a Tar Heel hero, fencers from across the region and the nation have benefited from Miller's
talents through his involvement with the United States Fencing Association (USFA), the NCAA, the U.S.
Olympic and World Fencing Teams, and regional fencing clubs.
Miller served as a coach for the U.S. Junior World Team in 1981 and was also the coach for the Senior
World Championship Team in 1983. The 1987 Junior Pan American Team was also coached by Miller.
From 1985-95, he served as the director of the USFA's National Coaches College and from 1983-91, he
was the director of the USFA's National Junior Elite Summer Programs. He is a three-time member of the
NCAA's Fencing Committee and is a three-time NCAA Regional Committee Chair. Miller has been a USFA
National Coaching Staff member since 1977.
Miller received his Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science and Psychology from Florida State University in
1966. He received his Master's in Exercise Science from Eastern Kentucky University in 1967. Miller
earned his Doctorate in Exercise Science, Higher Education, Guidance and Psychology from Carolina in
1974. Coach Miller was also awarded a "Maitre d' Armes," in 1975.
Miller stated, "the main significance of the success of UNC Fencing is a culmination of, shall we say, the
hard work of all our athletes from 1967 to the present. So it is an end result of their combined efforts. I
have been associated with it all and I have seen it all since the beginning, but it is not my record it is their
record, the student-athletes."
Coach Miller lives on 7.77 acres in Haw River, NC with artist wife Susun. He has three grown children;
Caroline, Joe and Kurt. Susun has two grown children; Myah and Grey. They have five grandchildren.
The Miller Bio
-Florida State University '66 (B.S. in Exercise Science and Psychology)
-Eastern Kentucky University '67 (Master's in Exercise Science)
-University of North Carolina '74 (Doctorate in Exercise Science, Higher
Education, Guidance and Psychology)
Miller has completed 46 years of coaching at Carolina, making him the longest tenured coach at the
Miller was named the Collegiate Coach of the Year in 1983 & 1986.
13 of Miller's fencers at Carolina have received All-America honors.
Four members of Miller's teams were named to the U.S. National Fencing Team.
Two members of Miller's athletes, John Friedberg in men's sabre and Nhi Lan Le in women's epee, were
Miller was awarded the "Maitre d' Armes," a fencing masters diploma, in 1980.
Miller's 2004-05 team broke the 1000th win mark on December 5, 2004 and the 1300th win mark Dec 2011.
Career Win/Loss totals: Men 707-320 Women 618-322
17th Place (tie) in NCAA Finals, 2011 (Combined Men and Women)
Coach Ron Miller - 1967 - Present
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