Everyday Champion - Michael Miller

Sept. 15, 2009

For most student-athletes, the thought of not being able to compete in their final season would be a point for most to give up. Not for redshirt senior Michael Miller of the Oregon State men's soccer team.After receiving word that he would not be able to compete in his final season due to injury, he found another way to be a part of the team and pass on what he has learned, as the team transitions into a new era under a new head coach Steve Simmons.

Miller not only helps the up and coming men's soccer team but is the acting president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). Having been an active member of SAAC since his first year on campus, Miller now has a unique opportunity to see what it is like to for student-athletes in all different sports at Oregon State as they all strive for the same goal; excellence.

Continue reading more about Michael Miller below...

What is the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee?

'As part of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee we serve as a liaison between the student-athletes and the administration, and other agencies on campus. We look to talk and have an impact on parts of daily student-athlete life. There are a lot of things that we as student-athletes have to go through on a daily basis that if they're just the slightest bit of a negative influence they can really wear on you and grind you down. The fact that we live in this little bubble of athletics we figure that if we're all here we should do something to make it better for us. We try to make the world of the student-athlete a bit more enjoyable and worthwhile.'

What is your current role and what does it entail?

'My current role with the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee is president, which puts me in charge and gives me a great opportunity to get out and be involved with different people and different sports. It gives me a good chance to get a perspective of what it is like to be an athlete both in and around the football team and at the other end of the spectrum, I get to see what the crew team is like. I have an opportunity to get an inside look at each team's conditions and their training regiments -- you get a wide spectrum of perspectives about athletics and you realize that even though our sports are different and our athletic tendencies may be more distinct towards being strong and fast or technical, we're all putting in the same amount of hard work trying to achieve the same goal and work on successful opportunities to create victories.'

How did you get involved?

'I wanted a way to be involved with the team despite being a redshirt freshman and a backup to the backup goalkeeper. To add on top of my duties of shagging the balls and keeping them pumped up, I decided to go out and find another way to make a difference. I realized that there are a lot of things in our daily lives as student-athletes that we can do to make it an easier time for us here. All I really wanted to do was get involved and make it more of an enjoyable time for not only myself but for my teammates.'

How do you balance being a student and an athlete?

'Being a student and being an athlete is an interesting ballet of time management, flexibility and anything else that may come along. It could be very simple if you were doing basic things like sports and classes, but if you start throwing other things in there it really makes you weigh out your options, weigh out your time and it becomes a bit more difficult the more pieces you throw into it. Mostly, it is just understanding that the effort you put into athletics can carry over to the effort you put in the classroom. Making sure that those two stay in check with each other; keeping the student-athlete part completely balanced. The athlete and the student are 50 percent of who you are. Let's make it so that each side of our student-athlete life gets the full respect of our efforts.'

What do you plan to do with your double major of history and education after leaving Oregon State?

'The double major is a great way for me to get my education credentials to be a teacher in Oregon and to explore this concept of history and civilization. What I hope to do with that is take some of these ideas and these concepts that you see repeated throughout history; the whole adage of history repeats itself is really true. Taking that into account, you can go into a classroom and see these students who would routinely go through life completely taken aback by all this social pressure and you can slowly break it down for them and if you can slowly start to connect with them on that level and take this thought of insight and apply it to them. It gives them the chance to see things from a different perspective. You might be able to do something that is more productive for them besides just teaching them facts which will help them to have a better sense of not only who they are but what they want to do with that sense of who they are.'

What has it been like being injured this year?

'It's definitely a journey and an experience in and of itself. It's my redshirt senior year. It is supposed to be the conclusion, not only of this year, but of my entire collegiate soccer career. It's all coming down to where it all has the same conclusion but wasn't the conclusion I wanted to have nor was I expecting to have. Realizing that this wasn't the conclusion I was looking for I also realized that if I'm looking for something that's not going to happen, I'm not going to have the chance to enjoy what I have. All I've had to really do is realize that my conclusion is going to be different than what it was initially was supposed to be. Going from there, I get to be a part of the team and get to be able to train the players and that's really me just being able to enjoy being on a team at Oregon State. That in itself is completely worth the journey that it has taken for me to get here.'

What role do you play with the team now?

I'm the volunteer assistant coach. I do whatever I can to make it easier for those who are able to play. There are so many different ways you can help the team, there are so many different roles players can fulfill and since I'm not fully able to play, whatever I can do to facilitate making it easier for those who do play to have less of a burden on them that's what I essentially make as my goal.'

What opportunities have opened up for you by being on scholarship?

'Being on scholarship has been a blessing in a sense that it allows me to pursue athletics and academics much more rigorously without having to worry about financial implications. I would say that in general, the scholarships that I've been able to get have really helped to make my financial situation much more optimistic in terms of my future endeavors. I'm not going to have too much debt when I get out of here. I'm not only going to have a degree, but I'm going to have experiences, memories and moments where I can grow as a person. That's all because I've had the ability to pursue my academics and athletics as rigorously that I wanted to because of the liberties granted by the scholarships.'

How has the transition as a team to a new head coach in Steve Simmons been this year?

'The transition with our soccer team from the past coach to the new coach has been a pretty interesting process in the maturity of some of the student-athletes. in the It's a process itself to realizing what potential they might actually have given a fresh new start for everybody. There was a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of optimism, but those who were always there seemed to be clouded by expectations that things would never change and so this has been a really good opportunity to realize that change can be a good thing. When you start thinking that this may be actually something that we can go with, then one step becomes two steps and then you start as a team just going on this massive sprint of actual energy. When you get out there on the field it is something different about our team this year that has been interesting to watch.'

What is it about soccer that you love?

'The one thing that I really love about soccer is that there is always a unique way for a personal aspect of your play to come out. It's a good way for players to create their own style of play. You find people who do what they do best and doing it to the best of their abilities. That's what's really cool about soccer. You see all these personal characteristics come through and flourish when you allow people pursue what they're best at.'

How did you end up playing goalie?

It's surprisingly obvious. I was the fat kid on the team who realized that by being goalie I didn't have to run. For a fat kid, running was a horrible chore, a tasking effort on my person. It worked out great, I got to have the orange slices at halftime, the granola bars at the end of the game, and I just sat back in the goal box. Eventually you realize that that's a pointless way to go about things. Somewhere around high school I realized that if I actually put some effort into it, it may actually be beneficial and fun. Sophomore year of high school was when I actually put some thought into what I was doing and actually making an effort to get better, to train, to practice harder and with a purpose, not just do it because it's fun and it's what I want to do. It was a good environment to develop my own way of finding a purpose not only for what I do on the field but in general and that's just to do my best and let the chips fall where they may.'

What is the hardest part of being a goalie?

'The hardest part about being a goalie is that you have to be perfect. It's not that you have to be better than anybody else; it's just the simple fact that if you mess up there's nobody there to get your back. You're the last insurance policy the team has. Everyone else in front of you can mess up but if you mess up everyone knows -- the ball is in the back of the net. There's so much that goes on, it's all a mental cerebral process of organizing the field. It's like a chess match on top a physical activity. It's this weird, constant demand of mental and physical attention to detail. You not only get to watch the game but to direct it and act in it. It's a very pressure-filled situation to be in.'

What's your most memorable sports moment?

'There are so many memorable moments but I would have to say that my most memorable sports moment would be the football team's victory over USC in 2006. Being up at the very top of the new side of Reser (Stadium) you could see everything happening. It was Dad's Weekend, and we're watching this game unfold. It's really this bird's eye view of seeing everything happen and you could just feel the energy, not only on the field, but in the fans. It was this birth of new ideas of what's possible. From there things have just continued to grow, not only in football or soccer, but just in sports in general here at OSU. That moment to me was this birth of this idea of possibilities and so seeing this massive upset was really worth the experience.'

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