One of the top sprint and hurdle coaches in the world, John Millar enters his 19th season at Notre Dame and has developed the Irish sprint groups into a force in the BIG EAST Conference. Millar's tenure at Notre Dame, which included serving as the speed coach for all Notre Dame athletic teams for several years, is the third longest active streak of any current Irish assistant coach in any sport.
A dedicated coach, recruiter and organizer, Millar also has played a key role in Notre Dame's management of four home indoor meets, which are widely regarded as being among the top events in the country each season.
Millar's sprinters and hurdlers have continued to have success for the Irish on both the men's and women's side of the field. Junior Joanna Schultz earned her first All-America honor at the 2009 NCAA Indoor Championships with an eighth-place finish in the 400 meters and qualified for the outdoor meet later that season. Schultz joined sophomores Miklos Szebeny and Johnson and freshman Jordan Rincon in garnering all-BIG EAST indoor citations. Schultz won the 400-meter championship at the BIG EAST Outdoor meet, while the 4x100-meter and 4x400-meter relay teams earned all-BIG EAST honors.
As a sophomore in 2008, Balazs Molnar grabbed all-BIG EAST indoor honors with a third-place finish in the 400-meter dash. Freshmen Cora Dayon and Johnson earned their first all-BIG EAST indoor honors in the 500 meters, finishing second and third, respectively. The men's 4x100-meter relay team finished third at the BIG EAST Outdoor Championships and played a major role in helping the Irish men's squad to their fifth outdoor conference title.
In 2007, Molnar took the BIG EAST outdoor 400-meter hurdle race by storm with his time of 51.62. His all-BIG EAST performance marked the first time an Irish sprinter (male or female) won a league 400-meter hurdle title in school history.
Millar's women sprinters undoubtedly found success on the track and were key in helping secure the team's first BIG EAST Outdoor Track & Field Championship in 2007. Both the women's 4x100 and 4x400-meter relays took titles at the 2007 BIG EAST Outdoor Track & Field Championships, spurring the Irish women's first BIG EAST outdoor championship since joining the league in 1995.
That same year, Millar set up dominance in the women's individual 400 meter with Okechi Ogbuokiri, Schultz and Brienne Davis taking second, third and fourth in the event respectively while Maryann Erigha went on to earn additional all-BIG EAST honors with her second-place finish in the 100 meters. Both Erigha and Ogboukiri had previous success under Millar's tutelage. Erigha was a two-time BIG EAST champion in the outdoor 100 meters and indoor 200 meters while Ogbuokiri was a conference titlist in the indoor 400m. Both sprinters went on to qualify for the NCAA Championship for the first time in their respective careers in 2005.
Millar also helped cultivate the skills of men's hurdler Selim Nurudeen, who was a two-time All-American, seven-time BIG EAST Champion and 15-time all-BIG EAST selection during his career at Notre Dame from 2001-05. Nurudeen also was named the `05 BIG EAST Indoor Championship Outstanding Track Performer after helping the Irish win the team title and he competed in the 2008 Beijing Olympics as part of the Nigerian track and field team.
Prior to his current proteges, Millar helped cultivate '02 graduate Liz Grow into Notre Dame's first women's All-American sprinter, as Grow was a fixture at the NCAA indoor and outdoor meets during her four years on the team.
Millar's sprint group made a huge splash on the national scene in `02. The women's 4x400 relay unit consisting of Ayesha Boyd, Kristen Dodd, Grow and Kymia Love qualified for the NCAA Indoor Championships, becoming the first Irish women's sprint relay to achieve that distinction. In the outdoor season, the same group took a step further, earning All-America honors after placing fifth in the nation at the NCAA Championships. Millar's 4x100, 4x400 (outdoor) and 4x400 (indoor) all have set school records in the past eight seasons and the 4x100 group won BIG EAST Championships in 2003 and 2004.
The development of the women's sprint corps allowed Notre Dame to capture its first-ever BIG EAST team title in `02 at the league indoor meet. Millar and his fellow Irish coaches were named the BIG EAST Indoor Coaching Staff of the Year that season. They repeated that performance in 2006, nearly winning the league's "triple crown" for the first time in 18 years before a runner-up finish in the BIG EAST outdoor meet. Nevertheless, Millar was again part of the BIG EAST Indoor Staff of the Year.
Millar helped the women's 4x400 team return to both the NCAA indoor and outdoor meets in `03. The squad of Tiffany Gunn, Kristen Dodd, Ayesha Boyd and Kymia Love just missed out on a repeat All-America effort at the outdoor meet, finishing ninth.
In his first year with the Irish, Millar began the process of enhancing the Notre Dame sprint corps, which culminated in three school records in the 55 and 200 meters along with the 4x100 relay. He guided Raghib Ismail to a second-place finish in the 1991 NCAA Indoor Championships and the fastest collegiate 55-meter time in the world. Millar also coached two-time All-American Allen Rossum to seventh-place finishes in the 55-meter dash at the 1995 and 1997 NCAA Indoor Championship, and hurdler Errol Williams was an All-American in both indoor (55-meter hurdles) and outdoor track (110-meter hurdles) in 1998.
The native of Toronto, Canada, took a break from his coaching duties at Notre Dame in early March of 1999 to serve as the head coach of the USA women's track squad, which earned eight medals at the `99 World Indoor Championships in Maebashi, Japan.
Millar is a seasoned veteran of coaching athletes both on the national and international levels. During a six-year stint at Texas, he coached 96 NCAA All-Americans, including 10 national champions, and helped guide the Lady Longhorns to four national titles.
Prior to his position at Texas, Millar was an assistant at Tennessee for two years where he worked with 1984 Olympic gold-medal hurdler Benita Fitzgerald-Brown. In addition, he served as an assistant coach on the Canadian Olympic track staff and assisted in training world-class hurdler Mark McCoy. He also served as USA Track and Field's national women's hurdle coordinator, coach of the North team at the 1992 U.S. Olympic Festival and assistant coach of the USA Junior National Team at the 1993 Pan-Am Junior Championships. Millar was head coach at York University in Toronto from 1981 to 1983 where he served as chief director for both the men's and women's programs in track & field. He led the school to a Canadian national championship in 1981.
He also traveled to the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, as a member of the Canadian track & field coaching staff.
Millar graduated from Western Ontario in 1978 and holds a master's degree from Arizona State. He and his wife, the former Lynn Haan, have a son, James, who graduated from Notre Dame in May 2008 as a track and field monogram winner.