Roger Miller has become a Bainbridge basketball icon. Although he never wore a Spartan uniform, he returns for his 40th season as the Bainbridge girls basketball statistician.
“There is so much value in him,” coach Zach Burnham said. “He has been doing it for so long, and it gives the girls milestones and shows who paved the paths for us.”
Miller said, “I enjoy when they’re successful, and it hurts when they are not. I feel a part of the team.”
Miller, 75, has loved keeping track of statistics since he was a kid.
“On Sundays, they would have one NBA game,” Miller said. “I would get out a notebook and write all the names down and do it on TV while watching it. I started when I was 11 years old and never stopped.”
Miller took a break from doing statistics when he lettered in golf, basketball and baseball at Lake Washington High School from 1963-66. But he was always interested in the numbers.
“I didn’t do stats there but always looked to see,” Miller said. “I was a good free throw shooter and wanted to keep my average up. In high school, I loved numbers. I was going to be a math teacher until we got to imaginary numbers and graphing, and that wasn’t numbers but concepts.”
Miller had some impressive baseball statistics when he played at Western Washington University in Bellingham and posted a fielding average of .958 and batting average of .327. In addition, he was the Western Washington Player of the Year runner-up in 1970.
Once his playing career ended, he began using his numbers as a coach. He became the head cross-country and assistant basketball coach at Kamiakin. In addition, he earned a 39-11 record as their JV basketball coach and led two Bel-Krik Motors Senior Babe Ruth baseball teams to state titles.
After coaching for a more few years, Miller decided to move to Bainbridge and partake in his favorite hobby again. Miller joined Bainbridge High School in 1982 and began following the basketball teams in 1984.
“People kept saying what’s the school record for points by the guys,” Miller said. “I realized after a while it went back to the 1940s, and there are no records, and nobody kept very good records. I thought to start easy with the girls since they started in 1972.”
Miller struggled to find statistics or results when the girls team learned the rules and played intramural games. However, he piled up names and numbers through the yearbooks, local newspaper clippings and help from Mike Welch, the first basketball coach.
“Mike had scorebooks and stats and I went from there,” Miller said. “Every coach had stuff, and I had scorebooks so big. It took a lot of time but I began to put it together and have four thick books.”
Miller’s current record book includes this year’s schedule, all-time records against teams, the current players statistics, records from each season, 139 records from the Spartans and opponents, and more.
Since Miller has kept in-depth stats for so long, his impact within the program has grown. “He brings a lot of value and encouragement,” Burnham said. “I didn’t have that in high school so I appreciate him keeping up the stats.”
In addition, each girl and parent are excited to see their names within the record book once they finish their Spartan careers.
“Last year, Ghadir [Ramadan] wanted to set all these records in rebounding,” Miller said. “She would come up to me and say, ‘How did I do tonight?’ and I’d tell her you got 11 but could have three or four more.”
“I didn’t know Elsa [Cajune], and she came up to me and asked if I was the one who made the books. She asked if I would make one for her, and I did.”
Each senior receives their record book with career stats, career highs and where they land in the record book. “I get nice feedback, and parents thank me,” Miller said.
Burnham said when it comes to stats, “I appreciate Roger doing that, (but) I don’t show all the girls that because I don’t want them focused on that. But, when our defensive points per game was the best since the 1999 state team, I brought that to the girls on how they did well.”
Over the 40 years, Miller has been to every significant game in Spartan history. “I can recall my daughter playing here, and they were in the state tournament in the Tacoma Dome, and there was an earthquake,” Miller said. “I was also here for all three girls state championships keeping stats. The teams in 1987 and 1988 were awesome and again in 1999.”
As the new season begins, Miller holds high expectations for the young Spartan squad. “I think [Hannah] Bounketh and [Maia] Greiwe and Bella Ramirez came on so strong,” Miller said. “Ramirez has a way to go to catch Olivia Wikstrom but has blossomed. The next two years they can be contenders for the state tournament.”