Miller brought energy, passion to lacrosse team at West Forsyth
Published 9:45 am Tuesday, June 7, 2022
By Jay Spivey
For the Clemmons Courier
Senior Charles Miller II of West Forsyth is an athlete who has played four sports during his time at the school.
However, it’s lacrosse that has paid huge dividends for the long stick midfielder and defender. He didn’t even play lacrosse until he was 11 or 12 years old, but he has signed to play in college at Barton.
And that’s perfectly fine for somebody who also played football, basketball and ran track and field for the Titans.
“Lacrosse is an interesting sport in my opinion,” he said. “I always say lacrosse is a hard sport to learn. To other people who try to pick it up, I tell them it’s a hard sport to pick up because there’s just a lot that goes into it like mechanics, But for me, I really like the challenge and I like something different. You’ve got to catch the ball with a net. You don’t really hear of that.”
Miller’s passion for lacrosse started, not at West Forsyth, but about six years ago.
“I was first introduced to lacrosse by Marc Winbush (who is the head boys lacrosse coach at Forsyth Country Day),” Miller said. “He had started this Triple P program (Purpose, Provision, Promise) for I think it was just for African-American people who wanted to get introduced to the game because a lot of us were new, a lot of us didn’t know what we were doing.”
As Miller, got older, he learned to appreciate what Winbush was doing.
“He progressed us and got more Black people onto the sport, so that was how I got started with that,” Miller said
According to insidelacrosse.com, 4.22% of men’s college lacrosse players are Black. And as low as that number is, it’s gone up from 2.7% in 2012.
“I thought it was amazing that somebody would try to do that for people with my same skin color,” Miller said of Winbush. “It’s always good to see Black people play the sport because a lot of us don’t.”
The more diversity the better.
“My goal of being the head coach at West Forsyth — obviously I want to win games, obviously I want to see the team succeed and go and do well,” Coach Jacob Able said. “My main goal is to make lacrosse as accessible to every single kid who goes to West Forsyth as possible because of what lacrosse has done, what I’ve seen it do for others, what it’s done for myself, and just getting me opportunities, giving others opportunities.
“I want to see other kids have those same opportunities. And just the fact that that’s becoming more available and more accessible.”
Able was introduced as the boys lacrosse coach at West Forsyth in January and practice started in February. That meant he had to learn his team quickly.
“The only thing that I knew about Charles was, when I got the job one of my old coaches was just moving from here, and he was the coach for the Club NC Fusion, and my old coach had talked to him about me possibly joining them,” Able said.
“He said that Charles was a guy who had played for him at Fusion, who went to school at West, who I needed to make sure went out and played this year.”
Miller’s brother, Bryson, also plays and is a freshman midfielder for the Titans.
“It was pretty special,” Miller said. “It was pretty cool to see my brother out there. I’m passing to him downfield, so he’s catching it and running. It’s pretty good to see my little man out there with me.”
Miller may not have even gone to West Forsyth had FCD had football.
“It was probably just districting and it being my senior year, me playing football because I also like football a lot,” he said. “They don’t even have football there.”
Miller is very respectful of Winbush and the program he’s built at FCD, but he keeps his distance.
“I haven’t really been in contact with Coach Winbush recently, but back in those days when I first started playing, he was definitely very important to my life and a whole bunch of other guys’ lives,” Miller said.
Miller is also grateful that Winbush gleaned a light into a sport he knew nothing about.
“I’m definitely appreciative and there’s nothing I could give him that would show him how appreciative I am because where I am in my future now, it really started with him,” Miller said. “It started with him. Everything I know now started with him. So, I’m always going to be grateful for that.”
Even though there was a lacrosse season last year, which was constricted because of COVID-19, it ran almost simultaneously with football, which was played in spring of the 2020-21 school year. Because of that, Miller elected to play football last year.
“I really didn’t feel like banging myself up like in multiple practices,” Miller said. “Some people did it, but I just didn’t feel the need. I played club (lacrosse), too, so I wasn’t going to do my body like that with having a job, too.”
He worked for DirtBusters, which cleans banks after hours, for the past year and a half. Able had to convince Miller to play lacrosse again this season.
Miller played football last fall as a senior, helping the Titans to a 5-5 overall record and 3-3 in the Central Piedmont 4-A. The season concluded on Nov. 5 after West Forsyth lost to South Mecklenburg 27-21 in Charlotte in the first round of the NCHSAA Class 4-A playoffs.
So, as football ended, Able was hired just after winter break ended in early January. The boys lacrosse team, which finished 3-8 last year and 3-7 in the Central Piedmont 4-A, quickly came together for this past season.
“When I was coming in (this season) I really didn’t know what to expect because last year I didn’t play, the year before that was COVID, and my freshman year, I didn’t play,” Miller said. “So, this was going to be my real full year of lacrosse. I knew some people that were players, but I never got to witness them do their thing.”
Able quickly realized he had a player in the 5-11, 175-pound Miller, who played with a passion.
“I think it’s because he is so smart,” Able said. “He does know what he’s doing and I think he’s got a good idea of where he’s supposed to be and what he’s supposed to do, if something’s going on that he doesn’t understand, or there’s something that he doesn’t think makes sense, or there’s something else he thinks we should be doing, he’s very bold and isn’t afraid to let us know.”
It took a while for the team to mesh. West lost its first two games this past season to Burlington Williams and Mount Tabor, but it rebounded and finished the season 10-11 overall and 5-7 in the Central Piedmont 4-A. West went to the NCHSAA Class 4-A tournament and lost to Southwest Guilford 13-8 in the first round of the playoffs.
“I think this year was the best year that this group has had playing at West Forsyth,” Miller said. “Even though I didn’t play with this group (last year) I knew their record and I knew what type of season they had last year. So, I think that this year was the best turnout for all the years we had at West.”
Miller will be heading to Barton in the fall to start his college lacrosse career. He chose Barton after also getting offers from Belmont Abbey, Lees-McRae and Coker.
“When I visited there, I just felt really comfortable with the guys” he said. “The coaches, they seemed down to earth. They seemed to really get along with what I had in mind about my future. They seemed really willing to help. And the players, they were giving me good insight on my future, and what I could do on the field as a lacrosse player and what I could do off.
“It was just a real family vibe that I was (feeling) from the team.”