WHEELERSBURG — By her own admission, Libby Miller — even as a rare two-sport standout at the collegiate level — is a person of planning.
So you can imagine her stress involved when the coronavirus threat emerged a year-and-a-half ago, and threw a wrench into her academic and athletic life at Georgetown College.
Still, already two years into her college career, Miller — a former Wheelersburg High School star in both soccer and track and field — has more than adapted and adjusted, and is more than making her marks in the same two sports for the NAIA’s Tigers.
A 2019 Wheelersburg graduate, the Bio-medical major and future graduate school hopeful Miller made all-academic Mid-South Conference in BOTH sports — and already is a two-time second-team all-MSC soccer honoree, and last month was elected as a Tiger team captain.
Then, from the pitch to the track —both indoor and outdoor —the sprinter Miller is already part of two school records at Georgetown, having blitzed the indoor 60m dash in a mere 8.15 seconds and being part of the outdoor 4x400m relay which ran the four laps in 4:07.
At the MSC championship meet this past spring, she individually in the 400m dash secured sixth.
However, in an interview this past week with The Portsmouth Daily Times, Miller maintains the changes she has made from high school to Georgetown — and throw in all the chaos caused by COVID-19 — were likely necessary, but definitely worthwhile as some normalcy returns.
“The best way to describe it was just stressful. I am a very planned-out person, so being able to go with the flow during all of this (coronavirus-impacted year) was difficult for me, but I believe it all worked out in the end,” said Miller. “Both seasons have ended up being successful, and I think it made everyone a little more mentally strong in the long run.”
It all began at Wheelersburg with a decorated four-year Lady Pirate soccer career — having earned first-team all-Southern Ohio Conference and first-team all-Southeast District Division III, along with the SOC’s Offensive Player of the Year as a senior.
That season, 2018 to be exact, saw Miller set the school record for most goals in a single season with 40.
That senior soccer season followed her first high school spring of track and field, as she admitted she “regretted not running my freshman and sophomore years”.
She qualified for the state meet both seasons, part of the Lady Pirates’ 4x200m relay as a junior and senior — and a member of the 4x100m relay quartet as a senior.
She also advanced to the state on an individual basis — in the 100m dash as a senior and placed ninth.
She then began her freshman year at Georgetown, and came out swinging —or rather shooting.
Miller captured the MSC’s (women’s soccer) Offensive Player of the Week in the opening week of her college career, and even stood atop the conference in goals scored for the first half of the season.
As a freshman, the five-foot five-inch forward played in 18 games and scored 11 goals with two assists for 24 total points —attempting 52 shots with 34 of those on goal, and nabbing one game-winner.
Like her physical changes and preparation for college, her expectations for accomplishments morphed as well.
“Going into my freshmen year, I was not expecting much. To be honest, my goal was to touch the field at all, maybe even just a few minutes all season. I was tested and grew a lot in the summer before freshman year, I had never lifted at the extent we were needing to, or putting myself in the shape I needed to be in as a college athlete,” said Miller. “But I worked hard and made sure I went in well-prepared and it ended up paying off for me.”
Once soccer season was over, Miller moved quickly to run indoor track — something she never got the opportunity to do at Wheelersburg.
Since then, “I’ve now found a love for it (indoor track), since the open 60m is one of the events.”
But as indoor season concluded in March, the serious coronavirus threat was just getting started.
The NAIA canceled all of its 2020 spring sports seasons, and the college sent all of its students off campus.
It was then later, rather than sooner, announced that the NAIA and the MSC in particular would play soccer in the spring of 2021 —instead of its usual August through November time frame.
Miller simply said it was a challenging time for all college students and athletes.
“Once soccer ended, I went straight into track and got an indoor season in before COVID hit and we were all sent home. It was so disappointing when we did not get an outdoor season. I was very excited to run the 100m and the 4x100m, which never ended up happening. The time we were sent home personally helped me work on things I needed to, like getting better in the weight room as well as on the field. We went back to school not knowing what to expect, but I feel as if everything was handled best it could be,” she said. “We practiced all fall thinking we would play some games, but due to COVID, none of that happened and everything got moved back to the spring, which was extremely difficult with (outdoor) track also being in the spring.”
But Miller made the most, and the best, of the situation —and played springtime soccer for her official, albeit abbreviated, sophomore campaign.
She played in 14 matches, scoring seven goals with three assists for 17 total points —posting 25 shots with half of them (13) on goal.
The day after the Tigers’ “2020” season ended, Miller was right back on the track —despite that season starting already as usual.
She said that although the super-quick turnaround was hard, that cloud of change once again saw silver linings.
Instead of pure sprint races or relays, Miller was now running the one-lap races involving 400 meters.
“Physically, it is always difficult to go from soccer to track. My body has to be changed dramatically as well as my diet. I always have to change how I lift and the style of training I do. Mentally, it was harder this year than any other. Coming off a season where we had three soccer games a week and going straight into track without a break was hard. Just going through the unknown for months was difficult, and all of this was on top of school. I do think it made me stronger in the long run and all ended up working out for the best. I would’ve never thought of competing in the 400 or 4×400 and the endurance soccer gave me allowed me to do that, so now I know the training I need to make that 400 even better for next season. I believe it all worked out for a reason,” she explained. “I went through soccer season which was very crammed, and then went straight to track the day it was over. This put me behind track-wise, but my endurance had never been better. It helped me to excel in the 400 and 4×400, where I could do my part to help the team there.”
Miller added that not only were athletics different during the past year, but so were academics.
The NAIA did grant an extra year of athletic eligibility because of the coronavirus situation, but Miller isn’t focusing that far down her Georgetown road.
“We did quarters last year instead of semesters for school, so classes were crammed into seven-and-a-half weeks. This made for way more assignments and exams so much closer together,” she said. “They have spoken on extra eligibility for all sports since all seasons were messed up and pushed back. I don’t fully understand it all. Whether I participate, I’m not sure. It will all depend on my academics and where I am at during that point in my life.”
Instead, for the here and now, it’s about Miller enjoying a normal athletic and academic experience for her final two years —and being able to share that with her younger brother Matthew, who officially committed to play football for the Tigers back in late May.
Matthew Miller was also a two-sport and all-Ohio standout with Wheelersburg —both basketball and football.
“Since it appears that we will go back to normal and school will be normal again, I am beyond excited to go back to what we were used to and have a normal year all around. My goals and expectations are for both teams (soccer and track and field) to be successful,” Libby explained. “For soccer, I have many small goals to reach that will get me to my bigger ones. For track, I would like to be able to bring in as many points for my team as I can at the conference meet when it is all said and done. Most importantly, I am so excited to be able to share Georgetown with my brother Matthew. Him coming to Georgetown is so exciting for me. I was nervous about not being able to get to his games and support him during his college career since my schedule is very packed, but with him being at Georgetown, that won’t be an issue. I know he will succeed at Georgetown both academically and athletically, and I’m so excited to be able to watch him grow through this journey of his.”
Cheering on Matthew will be yet another change for Libby at Georgetown, but like all her others already, she has more than adequately adapted —physically and mentally and from the pitch to the track.
Indeed, Miller is making her marks in the Tigers’ two-sport stripes.
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2021 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved