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John Paul Miller, left, is presented with a plaque honoring him as the latest member of the Southwest Oklahoma Football Officials Association Hall of Fame. Miller was presented the award at the group’s annual banquet Wednesday at the Comanche County Fairgrounds.

Miller takes rightful place in Hall of Fame

People who officiate any sport at any level deserve more than a medal.

John Paul Miller gleaned one of those well-deserved awards Wednesday when he was formally inducted into the Southwest Oklahoma Football Officials Hall of Fame.

"It's an honor," said the retired electrician and current grounds keeper at Ron Stephens Stadium. "I enjoyed every moment. I still miss it, the camaraderie of going to the game and coming back.

"I saw Ron Twohatchet the other night. He was a good official, good referee, and it was nice visiting him about some of the games we had called together."

Miller, a 74-year-old native Lawtonian, became interested in officiating while coaching sons Paul David and Patrick Dale in elementary and middle school sports.

"I had always coached my children," he said. "When they grew up and got into junior high, you're kinda in the way. You're watching them and I thought: 'I have to do something', and so I began to officiate."

His first experience was with the City of Lawton summer program.

"In the winter, someone invited me to join the football association," he said. "I went. It was a meeting at the old police station, down in the basement.

"It was a perfect time of the year for me in my electrical business because the work began to taper off when the kids went back to school, so I wasn't costing my family anything being out on a field playing.

"I really loved it, really met some great people."Vic Menendez asked Miller to join his team.

"Bugs Boyden, Robert Morales - I was fortunate that I got to work with some guys every week and do the games," Miller said. "You got to meet people from all over. You also got to see a different method of coaching.

"Slowly, you begin to gain a little confidence in it. I became the secretary of our Association and did that for a few years. That's a different deal because there, you're assigning games."

And occasionally stepping on toes.

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