Like Father, Like Daughter
It’s a talent that not many parents have been able to master, one that Steve Miklos and his daughter, Jenny, are both proud of.
“I’ve always been able to compartmentalize softball, on the field and off the field,” Steve said. “When we left the field, it stayed there.”
Miklos, the longtime Orange Lutheran softball coach, recently finished his 19th season at the helm of the program, leading the Lancers to a Trinity League title and a berth in the CIF Division 1 title game. He has now officially served as the Lancers coach longer than any of his players have been alive.
And during those 19 years, he’s had the joy of coaching his daughters Jenny, Laura and Kimmy, and watching them graduate from OLu. And now, heading into his 20th year as coach, Steve is enjoying having the best of all worlds.
He’s helping to shape young Christian athletes and students. He remains an integral part of the OLu community. And he’s getting to do it all with his daughter by his side.
Miklos’ involvement with Orange Lutheran evolved from his own curiosity, and in 1988, he took a step towards influencing the school by becoming a member of the Board of Directors.
He served on the board until 1994 while his three daughters attended St. John’s, before serving as Corporate Financial Officer for OLu in the early 2000s.
“I’ve always just loved the school,” Miklos said. “I took an interest in the high school in the area and we loved coming to the sporting events.”
It wasn’t until 1998, however, that the real fun began for Miklos, when he took over the softball program, right when his girls were in the thick of it.
During the 1999 season, Jenny, Laura and Kimberly were a senior, sophomore and freshman, respectively, and each played on the varsity squad under their father.
Luckily for Miklos, the oldest of his three daughters followed in his footsteps personality-wise.
“We’re both pretty serious, and I think I actually might be more serious than him,” Jenny said. “But he never took home what happened on the softball field. He was always really good at separating those two things.”
All three of the Miklos daughters attended Concordia University, Irvine after leaving Orange Lutheran. In 2003, after graduating and finishing her collegiate softball career, Jenny came back to Orange Lutheran as a teacher and assistant coach under her father on the softball staff.
Miklos said that he always planned on having Jenny come back to Orange Lutheran as his assistant. Luckily for him, he had the support of Orange Lutheran, who also planned to bring Jenny back into the fold.
“From a young age, Jenny always wanted to be a teacher,” Miklos said. “And Orange Lutheran wanted her to be back here. When she was in high school, Mr. Hansen let her help teach in a few classes. And as a parent, I always appreciated that support.”
While teaching may come easy to Jenny, who was named the 2014 Pacific Southwest District High School Educator of the Year, after playing softball throughout her life and at the collegiate level, Miklos said that the transition to coaching wasn’t a walk in the park for his eldest daughter, mainly due to the mentality of a college player versus a high school player.
But Jenny said that her dad’s approach to coaching helped her ease into the assistant role, and also benefited her as a teacher.
“He’s very rational,” Jenny said. “He takes his time making big decisions, and as a teacher, there are always different circumstances with students. It’s taught me to not make rash decisions, and think about it and pray about it to see what the right answer is for that student.
“Coaching has really shown me as a teacher that you don’t treat everyone the same,” she added. “Everyone is an individual. And you need to coach that individual player like you teach that individual student. My dad has always viewed softball as a tool to give you life-long lessons, about setting goals and working together as a team.”
Like any father would, Miklos is relishing in the opportunity to see his daughter on a daily basis during the softball season.
And despite the ever-present father-daughter dynamic, both agree that their friendship is stronger than ever.
“On the field, it’s great because we can give each other input and we’re always on the same page,” Jenny said. “And off the field, it’s really strengthened our relationship because most adults don’t get to spend that much time with their dad. My dad is one of my best friends.”
“It’s been a great experience,” Miklos added. “We get to interact on a different level than just father-daughter. I take her advice and respect her opinion, and she’s a great teacher and mentor for the girls.”
Both Steve and Jenny credit a lot of their success to the opportunities provided to them by Orange Lutheran.
“I never expected to be coaching here, it just kind of happened,” Steve said. “And it was easy because I love the school and I’ve always taken an interest in its sports.”
And seeing as how his daughter not only attended the school, not only coaches at the school, but also teaches at the school, Steve can speak from a parent’s point of view on exactly what Orange Lutheran offers to its families.
“It’s just a great place to send your kids and it gives students the chance to practice their faith openly. And that is what this is all about.”