Pleasant Valley executive director combines experience coaching, religion in new book to inspire growth

October 11, 2021 | 12:09 am

Updated October 9, 2021 | 6:07 pm

Photo provided

After 30 years on the move as a collegiate football coach with stops at several prominent institutions, Jay Mills landed in Owensboro as the executive director of Pleasant Valley Church. He most recently published his first book, Game On! A Coach’s Game Plan For Discipleship, in hopes of inspiring others to embrace a “coaching” mentality in their daily lives. 

With stints as a head coach at Minnesota Morris and Charleston Southern and stops as an assistant at Harvard and Notre Dame, Mills is excited to share his experiences. Renowned college football coach Lou Holtz crafted the foreword for the book, which also received positive reviews from football legend Jim Caldwell and national championship-winning Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney. 

Referencing the book, Swinney said, “Whether you enjoy athletics or not, you and those you lead will benefit if you transfer these lessons to your life.”

Mills pointed to a favorite quote as his inspiration for joining the coaching profession.

“Billy Graham once said, ‘A coach will have more impact in one year than the average person will in an entire lifetime.’ That quote really inspired me and was a message I did not take lightly,” Mills said. “I reflected on his statement and thought, ‘why doesn’t everyone want to coach if it’s that important?’”

Mills said coaches transform and transport, and that everyone is called to create the best version of themselves, all while taking others along on the journey. His definition of coach is something or someone who finds value in a person and takes them from where they are to where they desire to go.

“Everyone has been called to coach; we all provide influence to those around us. You don’t have to be a sports fan to be a great coach,” he said. “Faith is intertwined in every page of the book. After 30 years of coaching, I learned that it’s easy to transition into anyone’s coaching sphere.”

Mills considers coaching a metaphor for discipleship and considers it a superb leadership model transferable to any skill set. He turned down his first full-time opportunity to coach to remain a graduate assistant on Lou Holtz’s staff at Notre Dame, a decision he doesn’t regret. 

“My hope and prayers are that this book will enable everyone to be the coach they were designed to be and to apply these principles into their daily lives,” Mills said. “I was privileged to be on (Holtz’) staff. I didn’t stay to learn offense or defense; I stayed to learn from someone that could take me from where I was to where I wanted to be.”

Mills was a sponge while at Notre Dame, following Holtz with a paper, pen, and recorder to ensure he didn’t miss anything.

However, the inspiration for the book stems back to Mills’ early career when he was coaching at Boise State. He was driving between Tacoma and Seattle, Washington, on a recruiting expedition and heard an imperceptible and gradual voice calling him to write a book. 

“I had no time to write a book during my 30 years as a coach, but I never forgot that voice,” he said. “I began one time briefly before putting it on hold. It was a matter of obedience; I hope everyone doesn’t take 30 years to do what God has called them to do.”

The son of a high school football coach in Iowa, Mills considers himself a sojourner. Though foreign to Owensboro, he said it was the same voice he heard in his late 20s that drove him to a destination unknown. 

“My family and I are so impressed with the people and community. This really felt like home, and it’s been affirmed that this is where we needed to go,” Mills said. “We hope to plant roots and remain here as long as we can. We are blessed to be a part of Pleasant Valley Community Church and this community. If we can be of any service to this community in any way, we are all in.”

The book has a release date of Oct. 20, which would be Mills’ father’s 81st birthday.

“The greatest coach I’ve ever known is my dad; I wanted to honor him in that way,” Mills said. 

The book will be available on Amazon in e-book, paperback, hardback, and audiobook. 

Free resources that align with the book are also available. Mills produces a monthly newsletter and video series called Coaching Points, providing biblically-based coaching principles for personal and professional growth. Readers can gain access to those by texting CJM to 33777.

October 11, 2021 | 12:09 am

Share this Article

Other articles you may like