The time has come.
Laurel High boys track and field coach George Miles announced his retirement from the position at the end of the recently completed track season. Miles had held the position since 1972.
“I’m getting to the point someone younger and with more energy steps in,” Miles said. “I was kind of torn, my grandson Mitch is on the track team. But it will be just as easy to watch him compete; he will be in good hands.
“They’re great kids and I enjoyed working with them. It was a tough decision for me. I felt it was time. I’m losing the energy I used to have.”
Miles, an avid outdoorsman and fisherman, will have more time to spend doing those activities.
The decision to retire didn’t come all at once for Miles.
“I thought about it during the season,” he said. “I thought about it the last couple of seasons. When It got toward the end (of the season), I really made the decision right at the very end.
“I thought about it the last several years. I’ve had such good assistants and been around such good people, including on the girls team, too. It made my job a lot easier. That took a load off of me. It kept me going.”
Miles, who will turn 72 in September, graduated from Laurel in 1965, where he played football, basketball and track and field.
Miles attended Slippery Rock University, but didn’t play sports at the collegiate level. He graduated in 1969.
During his lengthy stay as Laurel’s track coach, Miles coached all three of his kids — sons Ryan, Casey and Bert. George Miles is married to Patty (Urey), who went to Lakeview.
“I really enjoyed track,” Miles said. “The only thoughts I ever had is would the program be better off without me.”
In addition, Miles served as Laurel’s head football coach for 32 seasons, compiling a 201-128-4 record. He earned career win No. 200 in a 22-7 home win over Mohawk. Miles started his football career in the fall of 1972 and retired after the 2003 season.
However, Miles has remained active with the Spartans football program. He serves as an assistant on Brian Cooper’s staff, this year in a volunteer capacity.
Miles remained retired from football until Cooper took over as the Spartans’ coach in 2014.
“I like to keep involved; I really enjoy that,” Miles said of coaching football.
Miles was a seventh-grade reading teacher, retiring in 2004.
Miles coached state champions Jake Wilson (javelin) and Evan Miller (800), as well as many other state medalists.
“We’ve always had a good, solid program,” Miles said. “We were always in a tough conference.
“The competition with Mohawk, Riverside, Shenango, they’ve always had pretty good teams. Our competition has always been pretty good around here.”
Miles didn’t have to ponder too long for a fond memory as track coach.
“I remember giving Mohawk the first loss on their track over there in the 1970s,” he said. “They had a really strong program. That was a big day.
“I can remember in the WPIAL championships, we tied in the championship meet and lost because they (West Allegheny) had more firsts than us.”
Despite stepping down as the track coach, it’s not out of the question Miles will be roaming around at a track meet assisting in some capacity next year.
“That’s a possibility, yes,” Miles said of potentially coaching as an assistant or volunteer. “It was funny because I served as a volunteer coach last year in football. I’m not sure they (the track team) would need me. But I’m sure I’ll be around there.”
Laurel athletic director Mike Krol is going into his third year in the position. He has been with the district as an administrator since 1989.
“George is an icon,” Krol said. “It’s very tough to replace a coach with someone who has that much experience as coach.
“He knows the fundamentals and has the expertise of handling kids. Putting different relay teams together. Knowing how to establish lineups in terms of when to rest certain kids in preparation for certain meets. You don’t just shake your head and say you’re going to replace him with any individual. It’s a tremendous loss. It’s a real loss for the district and track athletes.”
Miles expects to miss the interaction with the student-athletes.
“The thing I will miss the most is working with the kids,” he said. “That really hasn’t changed. I’ve worked with kids for years and years. It’s just been a lot of fun; helping them out and be successful.”