SARASOTA — Tucked away in the back corner of The Out-of-Door Academy weight room, Rod Miller pores over the day’s schedule.
At the moment, the room is void of activity.
Dumbbells are stacked neatly along a mirrored wall in the back of the room while workout mats and medicine balls lie untouched.
However, it isn’t long before a steady rush of voices filters down the hallway, dissipating the silence.
School may be out for summer vacation, but aside from a few short breaks here and there, the weight room has been far from empty.
The volleyball and football teams have been taking up residence in the weight room during the summer months, as they prepare for their upcoming seasons. As ODA’s strength and conditioning coach, it’s been up to Miller to facilitate how to accommodate every player who walks through the door.
But, in addition to that responsibility, the Sarasota native and Riverview High alum trains local athletes across Manatee and Sarasota counties, as well as collegiate and professional, athletes through his company GLC Athletics.
Miller founded GLC Athletics in 2008 as a way to help area athletes hone their abilities. Through the Greatness, Leadership & Commitment Athletics Speed-Strength Training program, Miller helps develop athletes’ endurance, strength, speed, agility and fitness, with the goal of helping players reach their maximum performance level.
“I get to train kids and watch them perform at a high level,” Miller says. “It’s a service I can provide to people to help them get better. I’m very much into developing athletes.”
UNDER THE RADAR
Growing up, Miller possessed the skills necessary to thrive on the athletic field, but the Rams wide receiver learned the value in performance training just a few years after he graduated.
In 2000, Miller met Dave Plettl, who currently is Florida State’s assistant strength-and-speed coach. He began training with Plettl, and it wasn’t long before Miller saw improvement.
“I had tunnel vision at the time because I would only train with Dave,” Miller says. “The biggest thing I noticed was in my development.”
Over the next two years, Miller put on about 15 pounds and dropped his 40-yard-dash time by nearly two-tenths of a second to a high 4.3.
In doing so, Miller walked onto the Florida A&M University football team, for which he was a three-year starter.
“Nothing I’ve set out to accomplish has been easy,” Miller says. “I’ve (conditioned) and worked hard for what comes my way.”
During his first season with the Rattlers in 2002, Miller hauled in a team-leading five catches against the defending national champion Miami Hurricanes.
“I said if they can’t hold me to zero catches then no one can,” Miller says. “It’s pretty flattering when a coach on the opposing sideline is holding up a card with your jersey number on it. It was pretty fun when you get out alive.”
Upon graduation, Miller did several workouts for various NFL teams, including the St. Louis Rams and the Miami Dolphins, and was the 96th ranked wide receiver out of more than 200 wide receivers in his draft class.
“I went from unknown to getting an invite from Adrian McPherson’s agent,” Miller says.
Miller continued training and received calls from the Orlando Predators and Georgia Force, but, in 2008, when the arena football league began to fold, Miller decided to focus his attention on what initially got him to where he was.
“I thought, ‘I have a future. I have plans,’” Miller says. “I knew at the time what I was going to do. I saw what Dave did with me in terms of agility and speed. I learned from someone great in his own right.”
Miller founded GLC Athletics and began working out of ODA as an independent contractor. Around the same time, he took on the role as the school’s strength-and-conditioning coach.
Now, nearly five years later, Miller balances his time between ODA’s student athletes and his own clients, including Lakewood Ranch’s Brad Zunica, Sarasota’s Shawn Bane Jr. and former ODA quarterback Evan Wilson, with whom he works with before and after school. Most recently, Miller began training professional boxer China Smith three days a week for his July 26 fight, at the Bradenton Convention Center.
“I’ve been through it, so I can relate to a lot of my athletes I train,” Miller says. “The competition level I lined up against and the people I played against — you can’t question my ability.
“I’ve learned a lot about myself and I want the quality of service to be consistent with what I’m doing,” Miller said. “I guess I’m pretty good. The athletes are a testament to what I’m doing.”
For more information on GLC Athletics, visit www.glcathletics.com.
Contact Jen Blanco at [email protected].