Chieftain welcomes new reporter to staff

........................................................................................................................................................................................

In the world of sports, Johnny Miller is a former U.S. Open champion and current lead golf analyst for NBC Sports, Jon Miller is a National Baseball Hall of Fame broadcaster currently calling games for the San Francisco Giants, and Jonathan Miller is El Defensor Chieftain’s new sports scribe.

In addition to sports, Miller will be utilized as a general assignment reporter.

“I’m very happy reporting on whatever needs to be reported on here,” says Miller, who graduated last weekend from Eastern New Mexico University as a communications major with a minor in coaching. “I’m excited to learn about other stuff, too, covering crime and government. And I’m interested in seeing how school boards work.”

Miller, 30, an affable bear-of-a-man, with an often self-deprecating sense of humor, says a career in journalism has always been his plan. It’s just taken some time to put the plan into effect.

“I pretty much did whatever I wanted to do from the time I was 18 to 26,” he says.

When he was 18, Miller wanted to be a college football player. He put some highlight clips together and drew interest from a couple of schools, but that idea got sidetracked when he required surgery on his tailbone.

“I had delusions of grandeur,” he says. “I went to Eastern with the intention of walking onto the football team.”

But he blew out his knee in a snowboarding crash, and was left to face reality.

“That’s when I got into journalism,” he says, “and I became editor of the college newspaper.”

Miller dropped out of school for a while and wound up doing all kinds of odd jobs in various places around the country. He operated a forklift for a time, worked in food distribution, delivered pizza, was an employee at a department store and toiled in a motorcycle shop. But he eventually decided to go back to ENMU and finish school.

“I was going to major in sports communications, but they got rid of the major. So I just kept taking communication classes,” he says.

Miller also went back to being sports editor of the school’s weekly newspaper.

“I wanted to get into sports,” he says. “It may sound cliché, but I don’t have a passion for anything more than I have a passion for sports. I like being on the field. It’s not work for me to go to a high school football game.”

Miller has played sports most of his life. As an 11-year old he participated in the National Junior Olympics in swimming. He played football at St. Pius X and even lettered in tennis after he transferred to La Cueva. He’s also played a lot of roller hockey and racquetball and still likes to play golf and softball.

As a spectator, Miller says he enjoys watching Australian rules football, college football and basketball and tennis.

Miller’s other interests include music. He says he used to play drums in a rock/hip hop band.

“I can actually play drums – not like golf,” says Miller, who considers Neal Peart of Rush and Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine among his heroes.

He also admires former mentors Jon Lechel and Pat Graff. Lechel, who tutored him while he was sports editor at ENMU, is now sports copy editor/designer at the Santa Fe New Mexican. Graff is a highly acclaimed journalism teacher and school newspaper advisor at La Cueva.

“She was a profound source of inspiration,” Miller says.

Miller says he’s now inspired to be a part of El Defensor Chieftain’s award-winning newspaper staff and a member of Socorro’s community.

“I’m happy to be here; I really am,” he says. “It’s not just ear candy. This is a wonderful, kind, close-knit community. I’m looking forward to being here a while.”