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CATCHING UP WITH ...

Rick Miller learned to be a business leader on the soccer field

Rick Miller (left) and his friend Dave Doucette at a recent Bentley University soccer game. Both were senior soccer captains at Bentley in 1979.

Rick Miller, once a record-setting goalkeeper on Bentley University’s men’s soccer team, returned to the campus as an adjunct professor last year to share leadership skills honed on the playing field and in the business world.

From 1975-79, the former Marlborough High three-sport athlete twice earned All-New England honors for Bentley and still holds program records for single-season (0.30 in 1977) and career (1.18) goals against average.

“To come back to Bentley after all these years is a comfortable feeling,” said Miller, a 1987 inductee into the university’s Athletic Hall of Fame and recipient of Bentley’s Edward J. Powers Award as the school’s top senior scholar-athlete in 1980.

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“The same commitment to leadership in the classroom, on the field, and in the community that attracted me many years ago,” he said, “is still central to the way Bentley operates today.”

A tennis captain in high school, he also was first off the bench on the basketball team at guard. But it was as a soccer goalkeeper, a position he first played in the Marlborough youth program, that he blossomed.

As a senior in 1975, he made 17 saves for the Central Mass. champions in a 1-0, double-overtime, victory over Eastern Mass. counterpart Belmont High in Marlborough’s first trip to the state semifinals.

During a recent conversation, his coach, John Ludgate, called it “Rick’s greatest game. He always had great anticipation, distributed the ball to the right player, and was like another coach on the field for me from day one.”

Miller’s performance that late November day, at a packed Morgan Bowl in Hudson, prompted Globe reporter Barry Cadigan to write “credit the Marlboro win to goalie Rick Miller who used his height (6-foot-1) and agility to the best possible advantage. He made three almost impossible saves during the two five-minute overtime periods.”

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Miller, who said he had previously never played before so many fans, caught the eye of Bentley assistant (and later head) coach Dwight Scandrett, who recruited him just days after the Belmont game.

“I remember my first practice at Bentley,” Miller recalled. “We got on a mini-bus and drove to a field in Waltham where there were no nets. I stood between two orange cones. It was a bit of a shock, but we made the best of it.”

But by his sophomore year, he said, “We really clicked as a team.”

The Falcons, a Division 2 squad, were 7-3-1 that ‘77 season, and allowed fewer goals than any other college team in the country. They played Boston College to a 0-0 tie and defeated Providence College, 1-0, both Division 1 teams.

Rick Miller (left) and Dave Doucette as Bentley soccer captains in 1979. Bentley University

Close friendships were formed, including one that endures to this day with fellow 1979 senior team captain, Dave Doucette, a sweeper back originally from Waterville, Maine.

“Rick was a phenomenal goalie,” said Doucette, “and a leader from the first moment he stepped on the field.”

Bentley is celebrating the 50th season of men’s soccer this year and Miller attends many home games, sometimes with Doucette and other former teammates.

After graduating with a management degree and attending Columbia Business School, Miller initially worked as a computer sales rep with Sperry Corp. in Wellesley.

He subsequently held senior positions that included president of AT&T Global Services, and has been a guest lecturer at business schools and is a leadership coach.

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He has written two books: “Be Chief: It’s a Choice Not a Title,” and “Casey’s Kite,” which offers leadership lessons for young people and is named for his daughter.

Proceeds from the former book go to Easter Seals and the latter to Family Reach, which provides financial support to families with children who are cancer patients. Miller, 63, is a cancer survivor.

“My earliest leadership lessons were passed down from my father, Ken, a former human resources executive,” said Miller, who resides in Marblehead.

Miller’s brothers also were college athletes: Ted was a placekicker for the Bentley football team and Jeff was a basketball player at Williams College.

“I was lucky to play on teams with talented teammates who were willing to work hard and play together. We made each other better,” Miller said. “Now that I’m teaching, I work with students who are willing to do the same thing.”

Whom should we catch up with? Contact Marvin Pave with suggestions at marvin.pave@rcn.com.