For this local Hagerty High family, softball leads to success – four times over
It all started about 17 years ago when Oviedo’s Steve Miller asked his daughter to play a game of catch with an old garage-sale baseball mitt. Steve, who played baseball for the University of Central Florida, discovered Alexandra was a natural. Like many young girls, soccer was Alexandra’s sport du jour at the time, but once the ball hit that leather, there was no turning back.
“At first, softball came easy, but it did get harder as I got older,” recalls Alexandra, who goes by Alex and turns 25 this January. “It was hard work, but I knew it was a gateway to other opportunities.”
Alex would go on to excel on the diamond as a catcher at Hagerty High School, earning two First Team All-State selections, which led to a softball scholarship to attend Florida Atlantic University (FAU). But more than that, she started a trend at the Miller home.
When Alex was playing softball in the Oviedo Babe Ruth League at an early age, her sister Jordan decided to give the sport a try.
“I wanted to do whatever Alex was doing,” admits 22-year-old Jordan, who played catcher and the outfield. “I was watching a game, and they were a player short, so they gave me a glove and put me in right field.”
A couple of years later, the softball bug bit the third-oldest Miller sister, Tyler. And a couple of years after that, youngest-sister Daryn joined the fray. All three followed in Alex’s footsteps, enjoying successful softball careers at Hagerty, including state Final Four appearances. Tyler and Daryn won the State Championship as teammates in 2018. And like Alex, everyone earned collegiate softball and/or academic scholarships, as well.
“We love the softball part of their lives, but we really push the academics,” says their mom, Michelle.
And that push works. All four became involved in school activities and clubs beyond softball. Three graduated with 4.0+ GPAs from Hagerty; Daryn is on pace for the same.
One Team, Different Positions
While the Miller girls are all “extremely tight,” according to Michelle, they possess varying interests in what they want to do with their lives.
“I love that they picked different colleges,” says Michele. “Individuality after high school is important for them.”
Alex was the first to leave the nest. She played four years for the FAU Owls, winning two conference titles and earning two trips to the regional tournament. Adhering to her parents’ advice, she did not slack off on her studies. Alex was the first softball player at FAU to play the sport and earn a degree in nursing. In 2018, she was named FAU Student Athlete of the Year.
“I was busy all of the time with clinicals, if not at practice,” says Alex, who is now working at Broward Health Medical Center in Boca Raton and going to school to become a nurse practitioner. “But I was surrounded by friends, and I loved being a student athlete.”
After graduating in the top 10 of her class, Jordan took her talents and yearning for an education in finance to the cold and snowy campus of Colgate University in upstate New York. She loved the camaraderie of a college in which one in four students is an athlete, with 25 varsity teams competing in the Patriot League. By the end of her college career, Jordan was serving as president of the Student Athletic Advisory Council.
Jordan stayed up north, taking a job in New York City as an investment banker with Barclays near Times Square – and she couldn’t be happier.
“I love Manhattan,” Jordan beams. “You feel like you are a part of so many important things that are going on.”
Tyler, a 20-year-old college sophomore, now suits up as the catcher and third baseman for the Emory College Eagles in Atlanta. Like Alex, Tyler is in the nursing program. Unfortunately, COVID-19 cut short her inaugural season.
“It was disappointing, but at least we played 12 games,” Tyler says, noting her first year was challenging. “College softball isn’t high school or travel ball. But it was super exciting, and I’ve never worked harder in my life.”
Seventeen-year-old Daryn, who is also on the weightlifting team at Hagerty High and is now closing the chapter on the Miller softball legacy for the Huskies, will leave for college this August to attend the University of South Carolina Beaufort.
“I love the Beaufort campus,” says Daryn, who plans to study marine biology and play outfield for the Sand Sharks. “I can’t wait. I verbally committed in my sophomore year and have already met a lot of the players.”
Looking back, the Miller girls realize that their collective successes, on the field and off, are the product of a strong family bond.
“Getting to where we are today is because our parents have been so supportive,” says Jordan. “They are super influential in our lives.”
“Our dreams,” adds Alex, “became their dreams.”
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