By John D'Onofrio
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
A “very special” Barker student-athlete whose love of sports was only transcended only by his love of others, is being remembered today by the football program that he devoted so much time and energy in and coaches who admired his attitude and contagious enthusiasm.
The Barker/Royalton-Hartland varsity and junior varsity football programs as well as Barker-Lyndonville (Bar-Lyn) — a youth football feeder program for the district — is shocked and saddened by the loss this week of Tyler Miller, just 14, who died on Saturday.
The son of Bar-Lyn football coach Jeff Miller and an assistant coach on his father's 12-13-year-old team, Miller, a member of the Barker/Roy-Hart JV football team, loved football as much as any teenager possibly could.
“The whole program is feeling really sad. Tyler was just great kid with a passion about football,” said Barker/Roy-Hart varsity coach Bill Bruning on Monday.
“His dad's been coaching in Bar-Lyn for a lot of years and this year, Tyler served as his defensive coordinator, helping him out. I know from experience that Tyler would leave JV football practice then go to his dad's practice and help his dad out.
“The whole program, coaches, players, everyone is having a tough time with this, but we're all supporting each other and leaning on each other — the kids are leaning on the coaches and the coaches are leaning on the players — to help us get through this.”
Barker varsity golf coach Tim Daly said he coached Tyler on the Barker boys modified basketball team as a seventh grader. Miller had recently begun his freshman school year at Barker.
“Tyler was a great kid. This is very tragic. He was such an energetic kid. I remember seeing him in the high school hallways and whenever I passed him, he always gave me a high five,” Daly said.
“He was somebody that everyone liked and wanted to be around. And he always had a big smile on his face.”
Bruning said a moment of silence is planned prior to the start of both Barker/Roy-Hart's varsity and JV football games this weekend.
“He really was a very special young man,” Bruning said. “He was just one of those kids who was very liked by all his classmates. He was everyone's friend — someone who would go out of his way to make you happy or to get you pumped up.”
First year Barker/Roy-Hart JV football Nate Sutch said he coached Miller in football this year, but also coached him in football and wrestling when he was still in elementary school.
“He was a fun person to be around,” Sutch said. “He was just so energetic, always had a smile on his face and was always trying to make other people laugh. I asked him one day recently how everything was going and he told me how excited he was helping out his dad coach in Bar-Lyn. He was definitely positive about that and you could tell how much he loved doing it. We're all going to miss him.”