Dubuque Hempstead has hired East Dubuque basketball coach Eric Miller, a former coach and standout player for the Mustangs, as its activities director.

Eric Miller appreciated the impact extracurricular activities made on him as a student-athlete at Dubuque Hempstead three decades ago.

Now, he will have an opportunity to pay it forward to the next generations of Mustangs.

Miller, a 1993 Hempstead graduate, stepped down as the head coach of the successful East Dubuque boys basketball program to become the activities director at his alma mater. He will succeed Brian Kuhle, who last month earned a promotion to chief human resources officer for the Dubuque Community Schools.

“When you talk about activities and athletics, this is really where my story began a long, long time ago,” Miller said. “Hempstead provided a lot for me as a student-athlete. It’s definitely bittersweet to leave our program at East Dubuque, but it’s a great opportunity to give the kids at Hempstead the same opportunities I had as a student-athlete.

“Ultimately, the reason I went to East Dubuque is the same reason I’m taking this opportunity at Hempstead. It’s a great opportunity for me and my family.”

Miller parlayed a successful high school basketball career into scholarship at St. Ambrose University and later played minor league professional ball.

He has taught in the social studies department at Hempstead for 21 years and has held a master’s degree in administration for 15 years.

Miller became Hempstead’s varsity basketball coach in 2002, with Kuhle as his assistant, but made the move to East Dubuque 14 years ago. Under his direction, the Warriors went 329-89 and advanced to the Illinois Class 1A Elite Eight in 2017 and again two years later.

“I’ve been very blessed,” Miller said. “We’ve had a lot of awesome kids during that run, and, year after year, we’ve had kids stepping up. It seemed like we just reloaded every year, and a lot of that has to do with the kids.

“What I’m most proud of is my entire staff, from the junior high level on up, is all former East Dubuque players. The last 10-14 years, we’ve gotten a lot of respect around the state and we’ve been consistently ranked. To be able to accomplish that with players and former players on your staff is pretty awesome.”

Miller informed his East Dubuque players on Thursday.

“I had to have the same conversation with my players at Hempstead 14 years ago, and it’s definitely not easy to tell kids you’re not coming back,” he said. “That’s an experience I could do without ever doing again.”

Miller will officially begin his duties as Hempstead activities director on July 1, but he said he plans to glean as much knowledge from Kuhle before his predecessor leaves the building for the Forum. He will also lean on Joe Maloney, the district activities director and a former colleague of Miller’s while the two taught at Resurrection School in Dubuque.

“Brian has done such a great job up here, and all of the coaches sing his praises,” Miller said. “We’ve had a lot of conversations about the job, and I hope to continue to build on the foundation he set. It’s so nice to have guys like Brian and Joe in the district to go to for advice.”

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