A family name synonymous with Spartan hockey is becoming a big name in the graceful arena of figure skating. There’s no doubt you've heard of a Miller or two. There have been 10 on MSU teams since 1955. Five Millers went on to play in the National Hockey League. Now, there’s a new Miller in the spotlight, and in February, she could be skating for the Gold in Sochi.
17 year old Hannah Miller isn't the only one in her family comfortable on the ice. The Williamston High School student has been skating almost as long as she's been walking. The oldest of four sisters, Hannah grew up on skates, and into a passion for competition. Hannah says, “When I'm skating, I'm usually not thinking about much except for what I’m on the ice to do. My head is always racing before the program, but once the program starts, it's like you hit a button and I'm on autopilot. I'm completely zoned into the program."
Miller’s father Kevin, knows a much different zone on the ice. He played right wing, for the Spartans, in the NHL, and for the 1988 USA Olympic team.. Miller says, “In hockey, I don't think I was ever nervous before the Olympics, before any championship games, nothing. But as an individual sport, there's a lot more pressure because you don't have that 19 other guys to help you out."
Kevin Miller’s 4 daughters all spend time on the ice. Three, are competitive figure skaters. Hannah earned a spot in the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Boston in January. She hopes to place high enough, to earn a place on the 2014 Olympic team. 12 year-old twins Braedyn and Giselle also compete at high levels. Braedyn is one of the top 36 juvenile skaters in the country. The woman who coaches them all, is also a Miller. Their aunt, Kirsten Miller-Zisholz. Says Miller-Zisholz, “ Hannah is certainly the role model. I don't even know that the younger girls understand how much she's achieved and what it means in the skating world.
Giselle and Braedyn compete against each other, which sometimes can be tough. Giselle said, “We both cheer each other on and we both like, we try to like not be so competitive, we try to not fight about who is better." Says Braedyn, “It's really fun. I really like jumping and like the energy when I get out there it feels like amazing when you touch the ice."
Hannah enjoys sharing a love for figure skating with her sisters. “I think it's so helpful that my sisters skate with me, because whenever I'm having a rough day, they're helping me out, and whenever they're having a rough day, I get to help them out." The Millers say they have a built-in family support group. But 15 year old Neysa relies more on her Dad, for support. “A lot of the times, my sisters always pick on me and tell me if figure skating was easy that it would be called hockey and stuff like that. So it's hard being 3 on one, but it's good to be different." Neysa plays on a competitive hockey team, as a right wing, just like her father. She has dreams of playing in college. “We're able to relate to a lot of things, and he helps me so much. Without him I don't know where I would be right now."
No matter where they are, somewhere, there's probably a Miller on the ice. It takes a lot of organization for this Williamston family. Says Mother, Cheryl, “It's busy. They keep us busy but it's a lot of fun. We wouldn't have it any other way." Kevin Miller jokes, “ If they don't skate, we'll throw them out of the family."