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On Saturday afternoon, Tim Miles was walking down the steps at the Hendricks Training Complex when he "saw this line of dozens of people ... all in grey shirts ... and then I looked at one of those shirts and it said Doland on it," Miles said. "I got chills. Honest to God, I got chills, and I get chills again just talking about it. I had no idea they were coming."
"They" were 56 Doland residents stepping inside a bus and heading to Lincoln, where they would surprise, even stun, their hometown hero. "What was funny is I was sitting with my dad in the hospital, and he was telling me how Doland was bringing a bus down to Lincoln for our last home game (March 6 against Minnesota)," Miles said. "They were calling it a field trip, so they could bring as many kids as possible to visit the campus and see what Nebraska is all about."
That trip is still planned, but another one preceded it because nearly a third of Doland's 180 residents didn't want to wait. So they chartered a bus to see Miles' team take the floor as a favorite to beat Penn State a second time before the Huskers take on 1 Indiana on the road Wednesday night and then host No. 8 Michigan State Saturday night.
"It was great, just great," Miles said. "I knew everybody because I coached their children - their boys in Little League baseball and their girls in softball."
This Fan Remembers Learning How to Spit
Angelia Hiles, 32, will never forget playing softball for Miles as a fifth-grader. "He was a very good coach. He could motivate anyone," she said. "He had to teach everything because we didn't know anything. I still remember him teaching all of us how to spit."
Miles laughs when we ask him about the experience. "I taught the girls how to spit correctly and rated them individually," he recalled. "That way, we could be productive while we were waiting for their moms to pick 'em up after practice."
Hiles verifies the rating system. "We all thought it was a very cool thing to learn," she said. "How can you not love Tim Miles? He has charisma, and he's always smiling. We all got on that bus Saturday morning and came home in the snow Sunday morning because he has personality-plus. I'm a team-jumper and a coach-jumper. Wherever Tim goes, I go because he's so down-to-earth. For all of us who came to Lincoln, he's still a small-town boy and our hometown hero because whatever he accomplishes never goes to his head."
Prep Coach Praises Miles' Aggressiveness
We ask two more bus-riding fans for their take on a fellow Doland native in his first year as Nebraska's head coach.
"I coached Tim when he was a senior in high school," said Larry Rahm, a Doland-area farmer who served as an assistant to fulfill an internship. "Tim was one of the most aggressive basketball players I've ever seen. He's very intelligent, very smart. Everything he's done, he's done well. And he'll do good things at Nebraska, too."
The best thing about Miles "is his smile and his personality," Raum said. "If you're around him, you're going to like him. I've been to a couple of football games in Lincoln, but this was my first basketball game. We loved every minute of it. We're excited to see a small-town kid make it big. I can't imagine anything much harder than being a head basketball coach in the Big Ten, but he can do it."
Tough challenges require inspired leaders. "I predict Nebraska will make the NCAA Tournament in the next three or four years," Rahm said, "and I predict that they will win a game or two in that tournament. I can even see Tim getting Nebraska somewhere in the Final Top 25 rankings. If anyone can take Nebraska to the promised land, Tim can."
Local Store Manager: Miles Smiles 24/7
Count Lori Remily, the manager of Doland's local convenience store, among Miles' most inspired followers. "Tim has a smile on his face 24/7," she said. "He was a great kid, really laid-back, but would do anything for you. He likes to get things done the way he wants them done, and he appreciates everyone who supports him - from the top to the bottom."
Saturday was Remily's first trip in Lincoln. "It was great!" she said. "I mean, we support our hometown hero. They didn't know we were coming, but they still put us up there on that big TV screen for everyone to see. We were all glad they did that because we're proud of Tim. He's always been a great coach, and he's always been a great recruiter. And he's doing well and will continue to do a great job at Nebraska."
The bus that left Doland at 8 a.m. Saturday re-boarded Sunday at 6 a.m. and headed back to South Dakota. Inclement weather on the way back reduced driving speed to 40 miles-per-hour from Sioux Falls on home, making the ride about 2½ hours longer than normal.
This Fan Sees ESPN in Tim Miles' Future
A few extra hours left the Tim Miles Fan Club undeterred. "I've never seen any Division I game before, let alone one in Lincoln," Hiles said. "It was great. It was a good show. It was amazing. I think Tim's found his dream destination, and I think he's going to do amazing things for the Huskers. He'll do the best he can to get everything out of that program that's possible ... ever."
Ever is a long time, so I ask Hiles, an operations administrator, if her hometown hero would ever leave Lincoln.
"I think someday we'll all see a little more of Tim than we see now," she said. "Someday he'll retire from coaching, and when he does, I think we'll be watching him or listening to him on ESPN. Wouldn't he be great doing something like that?"
Miles indeed would fit the profile of an entertaining psychoanalyst for basketball - at any level. But let's watch this motivation machine and his tight-knit staff as they create some memories of their own before putting their leader in a studio to discuss someone else's.
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Voices from Husker Nation
We coordinated the trip from Doland to Lincoln early last November. After talking about it, we finally decided we were going to do it, so we booked a bus, 25 hotel rooms, 56 game tickets and ordered some matching T-shirts. We had a phenomenal response thank the staff at Nebraska for keeping our trip a secret from Tim the entire time! There was a definite buzz around the town in the days before we left, and it was touch-and-go on our way home. In fact, when we arrived in Doland, the bus was plowing so much snow, it had to be pulled out to the highway by a maintainer. Doland may be small, but we make up for it with huge heart and a passion for our community. When I graduated from Doland High School two years ago, there were only seven kids in my class - six boys and one girl, a foreign exchange student from Sweden. I'm a sophomore at South Dakota State University, but will always keep my ties to Doland. I always come back because of the people. Hubert H. Humphrey, former Vice President of the United States and a Doland High School graduate (Class of 1929), told people all over America that Doland represented the best that was in America because the best that is in America is in its people. He made that statement 40 years ago, and that legacy continues on today. We stand fully behind our alumni and our community, and wherever Coach Tim Miles is, that's "our" team. We're thrilled he's closer to us now and look forward to seeing what he can do and will do with the Huskers men's basketball team. Scott DesLauriers, Brookings, South Dakota
Thanks for all the support we received from the Nebraska Cornhuskers family! The weekend really reminded us of our hometown of Doland. Tim is not only a great coach, but a great man that comes from a wonderful family. Win or lose, those that play for him, will be better men after playing for Tim. He is the most down-to-earth guy I know. He's still the small town guy I knew when I was growing up, and yes, he was one of my first softball coaches. I know fame and success will not change who he is! I am honored to know Tim. He couldn't make Doland any prouder than we are. My family has followed Tim throughout his coaching career. I remember going to camps at Southwest State in Marshall (Minnesota), one of his first coaching stops. Good luck to Tim and the Huskers! We'll be rooting you on in South Dakota, and always remember that you can do anything you set your mind to do! Danneil Musser (RN), Sioux Falls, South Dakota
The whole trip was amazing, especially the look on Coach Miles' face when he saw us. Priceless!!! Coach Miles is so enthusiastic, it's contagious. A person cannot be around him and not feel the energy. Right now that's what the Cornhuskers are feeling - that good things are about to happen for Nebraska basketball. Nothing is out of reach for that team. As we sat In the stands all we heard around us were fans telling us how excited they were to have Coach Miles as head coach. I'm already looking forward to our next trip to Cornhusker Country. The only thing I missed over the weekend was seeing Tip Miles (Tim's dad) sitting behind Tim in the stands. Hope he's feeling better soon. Sherry Board, Dolandite and family friend
Our Doland school slogan is: "We may be small, but we do big things." We're proud of our community and our graduates - Hubert H. Humprhey, Governor Harvey Wallman, Olympic medalist Dennis Koslowski and and many others, including a young man who will lead the Huskers to success. Tim Miles is our latest hero and Nebraska gains some new Big Red fans with him. Randy Mason, Doland, South Dakota
We really enjoyed the trip to Lincoln and a tour of the facility. It was great to spend time with Tim and to see him coach. So many people stopped and talked to us at the game. It was nice that people were so interested in our visit and support of Tim. We felt the energy. Darla Knox, Doland, South Dakota
My husband and I are so glad we were able to head to Lincoln and support Tim and the Huskers! What an extra treat that was to get a win! We had such a great time there and were treated like royalty! It was great to see Tim come down the stairs and be so surprised to see us! Our tours were wonderful and then to see Tim after the game and get a personal tour from him was icing on the cake! Tim is a great man. He always has a smile on his face and is ready to visit with anyone. We are proud to call him a Dolandite! His parents and family are all such great people and should be very proud of him. Thanks for all the fun! It was a great time! Go Huskers! Audrey and Rod Remily, Doland, South Dakota