Honaker ready to cheer on favorite son Heath Miller
Jan 31, 2009 at 12:00 AM
The Redbud Capital of the World, as Honaker is known, is painted in black and yellow — a strange sight in this Russell County town where people bleed orange, the color of their beloved high school Tigers.
The yellow Terrible Towels and signs for the Pittsburgh Steelers are there to show hometown pride for Heath Miller, who will take to the Super Bowl turf for the second time in his brief NFL career.
Miller is a native of Swords Creek, a community outside Honaker. He and his Pittsburgh teammates will battle the Arizona Cardinals Sunday in Super Bowl XLIII at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla.
Honaker High varsity football coach Doug Hubbard says Miller’s rise from high school quarterback to college graduate to Pro Bowl tight end has done more than just give Honaker some bragging rights among the fan-crazed football communities in Southwest Virginia.
“You can see among the people here in town and the students, they really care and cheer for Heath because he did things the right way and earned everything he’s got. But that comes from his parents,” said Hubbard.
“He was in church every Sunday. He came to the weight room and worked every day. He made sure his grades were taken care of. And he was kept pretty well grounded. That is a pretty good recipe for success.”
Miller, 26, returns to his hometown during the off season to hold a one-day football camp for elementary school students.
Miller pays for the camp, his coach said.
“He gives any extra money to our local United Way, and when he signed with Reebok, he made sure that all of our kids (on the varsity team) had cleats to wear. So everything he has done to give back has been greatly appreciated,” Hubbard said.
Miller has done much to show kids from his hometown what can be achieved when you take the right road, Hubbard said.
“He takes (being a) role model seriously. He knows he’s got a lot of people, especially kids, looking up to him here,” Hubbard said.
“He exemplifies that anyone from a small town or anywhere can achieve greatness by hard work.”