By Graham Quinn
Eagle Editorial Board
With his intense presence both on the field and in the classroom, history dean and rugby coach Brett Mills holds an impressive reputation as a great role model and a real leader.
Mills has been both a teacher and a rugby coach at St. Thomas since 2002, and the head coach of A&M from 2011 to 2013, recently announcing his resignation.
Before coaching at A&M, Mills was a coach for the University of Houston rugby team.
Starting next year, Mills will be coaching the Woodlands Men’s rugby team.
Coming from the University of Montana, Mills has been involved in rugby for over thirty years, and a teacher for nineteen.
“I come from a family of teachers,” Mills said. “I’d seen everything that people in my family had done, and that made me want to do the same thing.”
In addition to being both a coach, teacher and rugby player, Mills spent a good amount of time in the army, starting in 1988.
“My family was all about service and duty,” Mills said. “So when I was thinking about what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, I thought the Army was something I needed to do.”
The six years that Mills spent in the army was very valuable to him.
“The experiences I got in the service could never be replicated anywhere else,” Mills said. “The army molds you into a man, it changes your perspective on everything.”
Because he is a family man, Mills felt that he needed to leave the army in order to spend more time with his family.
After the army, Mills was able to do the two things he really loved, teaching and coaching.
“The opportunity to do something I love every day is just my dream,” Mills said. “The ability to watch the people I work with, especially as a coach, overcome challenges is one of my favorite things.”
The challenge of being both a coach and a teacher is what makes the job so interesting to Mills.
“Every day is different when you’re a coach and a teacher,” Mills said. “Both in the classroom and on the field, you have to be innovative.”
Mills has also taught and coached all three of his sons, two of which have gone on to play college rugby.
His oldest son Connor, who graduated from St. Thomas in 2011, played rugby at Texas A&M, where Mills was able to coach him.
His youngest son, Keegan, graduated in 2013 and received a full scholarship to play rugby at Lindenwood University in Missouri.
Being able to coach and teach all of his sons has been a great experience for Mills.
“The experience that I have had teaching and coaching has been unbelievable,” Mills said. “The fact that I got to spend so much time with my boys was fantastic.”
Watching his sons preform both in the classroom and on the field has been exciting for Mills.
As any parent or coach would do, he held his sons to high standards.
“I did expect a lot out of them, but not necessarily more than my other students,” Mills said. “I expected them to push themselves and be the best that they could be.”
Winning three state championships in a row, each year with at least one of his sons has been a fantastic experience for Mills.
“We got to share experiences that not a lot of sons and dads get to experience,” Mills said. “When you’re coaching your sons to a state championship, and you’re there the whole way with them, that is a huge thrill.”
Being a teacher and a coach for two different teams gives Mills a hectic schedule.
Mills lives out in Magnolia, with a 45 minute commute to and from St. Thomas every day.
During the A&M rugby season, Mills would get up around 4:30 a.m., drive to St. Thomas, teach, go to practice, drive two hours to A&M, coach at their practice, and drive home around 9:30 p.m.
Having such a busy schedule took a toll on Mills, and that is why he announced his resignation as the A&M coach.
“It was just getting to be too much,” Mills said. “I needed to spend more time with my family.”
That is why Mills chose to coach the Woodlands Men’s rugby team, much closer to home. This gave Mills the ability to still do what he loved but with an easier schedule.
Having such a busy schedule has not affected Mills’ coaching ability, however. Mills has led the Eagle rugby team to an impressive four state championships in the past five years.
The Eagle rugby team holds quite the reputation in TAAPS 5-A, and Mills is proud of what has been accomplished.
“The team has performed excellently these past few years,” Mills said. “I’m really proud of them.”
After winning three consecutive state championships, Mills has high hopes for what is to come for the rugby program.
“With the team coming off of three state championships, we have to work constantly to make sure we stay on top,” Mills said.
Although several of the team’s biggest players have moved on to college, Mills has no worries for the upcoming season.
“I’m excited for the season this year,” Mills said. “We’ve got a lot of great seniors that will be excellent leaders on the team.”
With his impressive track record and leadership roles, Brett Mills truly is a man of St. Thomas.
As a role model through both words and actions, he shows students the meaning of hard work and dedication.