The way Timothy Miller sees it, football and family have a lot in common. And not just because his twin brother Joseph plays with him at St. Joseph High School in Santa Maria, or because their father Jim was one of seven football-playing brothers at St. Francis in La Cañada.
“We value the game not just for the fun of it, but for the brotherhood aspect,” said Tim, a senior two-way player for St. Joseph’s highly rated grid squad. “In football, we rely on others to be successful, like you do in a family, and working together like that — as a community — connects us to our Catholic faith, which is tied to community. So that makes football more special, especially when you can do it at a Catholic school where you can actively involve your faith.”
This year, Tim (and Joseph) are living their faith at what is, for them, a new school, having transferred last spring from Mission Prep in their hometown of San Luis Obispo, 30 miles north, after attending the Old Mission elementary and middle school. Both Miller brothers were All-Northern League in 2016 (Joseph at wide receiver, Tim at defensive back), but made the move when their father moved his event management business south to Santa Barbara, and when Mission moved to eight-man football for 2017.
“We liked Mission,” said Tim, “but we also like it at St. Joseph. We’re still learning the area, but we’ve got a really good team and we enjoy coming together as a team to give our best effort every week.”
St. Joseph, the ninth-ranked team in Division 5, lost its opener to Division 2’s Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks, 41-22, a game in which, Tim said, “we played well but had some mental errors that were costly.” The Knights bounced back in week two, however, to defeat crosstown rival Righetti, 40-14, with Miller having compiled 16 tackles in the first two games at middle linebacker.
“Middle linebacker is a tough position but I enjoy it,” the 6-foot-1-inch, 210-pounder said with a smile. “You see the play develop in front of you, and the challenge is not to think too much, just keep it simple, relax and do your job.”
For Miller and his brothers (older brother Patrick attends UC Davis), the “job” also means helping their parents Jim and Patty in their event management business, which usually means working weekends at concerts, parties and other venues on the Central Coast and beyond.
“It’s work, but it’s also family time,” said Tim, whose family attends Nativity Church in SLO. “Like on Father’s Day last spring, when I spent it with my dad working an event. To me, it was time I could spend with him, and it was a great day.”
In addition to middle linebacker, Tim plays tight end and fills in at running back. “We have a small squad, so we all have to go both ways which is more work,” he said. “But that’s where it is really important to have that trust of teammates, and give them that trust, that you believe in each other to do what’s necessary.”
A basketball player and 400-meter runner in track (“mainly to keep in shape”), Tim enjoys math and science, especially chemistry and physics. Outside the classroom, the lifelong Boy Scout (who earned his Eagle Scout award a year ago) coaches youth sports, referees youth football and basketball, and helps at area youth camps during the summer.
Looking ahead, Tim hopes to enroll at one of the military academies, several of which he visited during the summer. “If I can attend one of them and play football, that would be awesome,” he said, “but I know it’s tough to get in. And if it doesn’t happen, I’ll go to school elsewhere and plan to get into the military later on.”
The military, of course, is another enterprise in which teamwork, trust and pulling your weight are vital, just as they are in football and family. Those qualities will certainly be needed as St. Joseph moves into Los Padres League play in October, especially against longtime power Lompoc.
But Timothy Miller and his teammates are ready for the challenge, fortified by team prayer before every meal, practice and game. “It makes us work harder and trust each other more,” he said, “and it helps us get ready for every challenge we face.”