Creating a new path
MICHIGAN CITY — Meghan Miller’s final gymnastics season ended before it really got started.
Before she hopes to attend Marian University as a student studying elementary education, City’s star senior injured her left foot during a dismount on the balance beam exercise in a preseason practice and the diagnosis from the doctors was the worst-case scenario.
“I don’t have very good luck with this foot, I guess,” Miller said with a laugh.
She had broken her left foot again, adding to a injured past that included a fractured left ankle, effectively ending her season and her gymnastics career in a way.
“I came back from flipping upside down and hit my foot on the beam,” Miller said. “When I hit my foot on the beam, I fell to my knees because it did not feel right. Me and (Coach) Jami (Fryer) both looked at each other and said, ‘Uh oh. This isn’t good.’”
Miller’s coach over the last couple of seasons was emotionally gutted for her senior star. She was in as much disbelief as Miller herself after her injury.
“It was a huge disappointment for pretty much everyone,” Fryer said. “Her sophomore year was my first year here, so we’ve kinda been together this entire time. I’ve definitely gotten to know her a lot better since then. Since her sophomore year, she’s been such a huge help to the team. She’s just a leader in general.”
With her season gone, Miller is still finding ways to contribute to a team that has actually seen an increase in their depth from just three gymnasts a season ago including Miller, to nine this season.
“My heart broke because I’ve been doing gymnastics for so long and that injury didn’t want to be the last time I did anything in gymnastics,” Miller said. “But, still being included with the team and being around the gym atmosphere, and being involved ... it’s nice.”
Some have a little experience, some don’t.
For Miller, it’s about feeling a part of the team and helping each of them improve everyday as much as she can on the sideline. She likened it to preparation for the next chapter in her life: becoming an elementary school teacher and a gymnastics coach. She’s already on the path to coaching, assisting the staff at Platinum Gymnastics, coaching kids from ages 5-15 across all levels.
“I’m so glad that I’m still able to be a part of them and help them as much as I can,” Miller said. “I want to hopefully someday become a gymnastics coach on top of teaching because I love kids. If I could become a coach after school, that would be so awesome.”
Fryer mentioned that Miller “isn’t much of a cryer” because of her injury-riddled past, but was surprised about her upbeat attitude following her injury.
“I couldn’t believe she was as positive after she had broken her foot again,” Fryer said. “You can tell she was disappointed and upset, but she’ll continue to be at every single practice and continue to help out as much as possible. There was no way she was going to be able to come back from another injury and be effective, but she would be one of those girls to try. She loves to compete and it’s really unfortunate that she can’t. It’s frustrating. We’re still happy to have her around and my hope for her is that she still has the track season. I just want the best for her.”
Miller, a school-record-setting pole vaulter with a 10-foot, six-inch vault a season ago, is preparing herself for track season. All signs point to her at least being able to continue her athletic career in another fashion with graduation on the horizon.
“The doctors said hopefully in six weeks, I’ll be back,” Miller said. “I’m very excited. Last year, I broke the pole vault record, so I’m excited to see what this year holds. I’ll miss gymnastics so much, but I’m excited for track. I want to compete again.”
Reach Michael Whitlow at firstname.lastname@example.org or (219) 214-4169. Follow him on Twitter @couldbelikemike.