Super Fan honored by Sports Hall

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Jim Franz/Beloit Daily News Statistician Karl Miller has attended 1,200 straight Turner boys basketball and football games.

BELOIT - By the time Coach Ed Gavigan came along and started turning the Beloit Turner football program into a powerhouse in the mid-1980s, there was just one small problem.

Every time a Trojan did something outstanding, folks jumped to the conclusion they were accomplishing school records.

Fortunately, someone was always around to set them straight. His name is Karl Miller.

Fact is, Miller is still setting fans straight when it comes to Turner boys basketball and football records. He's a walking encyclopedia of everything related to the two programs.

"I've probably seen 95 percent of every boys basketball game and football game Turner has ever played," Miller said recently.

His streak in both sports is impressive. He has witnessed 370 straight Turner football games and 830 straight boys basketball contests. That's right, 1,200 consecutive games between the two sports.

No wonder around Turner they just refer to Miller as "Super Fan."

Of course Miller is much more than just a booster of Turner sports. He has been a volunteer statistician for football since 1983, when Gavigan tapped him on the shoulder, and basketball since 1985, working with good friend John Pelock for over 20 years.

"Ed (Gavigan) was looking for somebody who would be at every game and who would be impartial," Miller said. "He didn't want a parent. I think I have been very impartial. I knew that Josh Pelock threw for 970 yards one season. I wasn't about to go looking for an extra three yards somewhere. That's what he threw."

Miller's contribution to Turner sports will be celebrated when he receives the Everett Haskell/Bernie Barkin Lifetime Achievement Award at the Beloit Historical Society's Elliott-Perring Sports Hall of Fame Banquet on June 13 at the Rotary River Center.

Miller watched as Turner High School was built and was a member of its third graduating class in 1968. While attending college at UW-Whitewater he gained a certain affinity for the Warhawks as well, but nothing compares to his devotion to the Trojans.

How else do you explain why he has never missed a Turner-Clinton football or boys basketball game? He has witnessed all 119 basketball games (Turner is 62-57) and 52 football games (Turner is 24-28).

Miller says he realized back in a phy ed class with Guy Ritchie that he was never going to be an athlete. But he loves sports and he loves numbers so keeping tackle points and shot charts was right up his alley.

"I knew how much work the stats were and I wondered why a coach should have to deal with all that stuff when they have so many other things to be responsible for," Miller said. "I gradually got more and more into it."

When guys like David Nelson and Jim Stiener began putting up great numbers for the Turner football team in the 1980s, Miller decided it was time Turner had a real record book.

"I looked at the Packers record book and I modeled ours after it," he said.

The book required extensive research to find boxscores of old games. He did exactly the same thing for boys basketball. Now when a reporter needs to know something historical about either sport, coaches simply give them Miller's phone number.

The only thing is, you won't be receiving an email of anything. Miller remains old-school, preferring paper and pencil or an occasional typewriter to a computer. But he never wavers in his mission to report Turner's statistics to area media.

"Even when we're not so good, you still report the games," he said. "The kids deserve it. It's not about how good you are. It's about competing. That's what is important.

"I think I've helped the coaches quite a bit and they appreciate it," he said. "It's been a lot of fun. I just hope when I'm done there's someone to keep the record books up-to-date."

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