“In The Scope With Joshua M. Hicks” is a weekly column from the Managing Editor of WARR
There are many uplifting stories in the Bible that people use as encouragement to living a healthy, spiritual lifestyle.
For example, David was a young shepherd boy that defeated Goliath. Josiah was anointed the youngest king in Israel’s history. The three Hebrew boys transformed the face of a Babylonian empire. These stories have a common theme: people being used by God at a young age to make a difference.
In a more modern take on that theme, Naperville’s Samara “Sami” Miller is following their footsteps to make a difference on one of the biggest stages in the world of sports, all while keeping her faith in God as top priority.
Miller grew up having a love for running and ballet. For roughly 36 hours a week, she dedicated her time to being a ballerina, often times changing her clothes in the backseat of the family car, eating dinner and perfecting her hair bun before she reached the studio. But over time, Miller experienced a change in her life, and in eighth grade, thanks to a family conversation with her uncle before his passing, she made a decision to hang up her pointe shoes and switched her focus to track, and she has not looked back since.
Track and academics led the Neuqua Valley graduate to be a Division 1 student-athlete at Purdue University, the highest level of intercollegiate athletics. Upon arrival, her career started off rough, beginning with having double leg surgery, going through rehab and adjusting to the duties of keeping the academics first while juggling a demanding athlete life that includes lots of travel and national TV attention.
“Double leg surgery was extremely difficult,” Miller said.
“Initially I had IT band issues, then a pelvic stress fracture, my symmetry was off center, shin splints repeatedly and finally compartment syndrome with nerve entrapment which resulted in surgery. This was a part of the commitment to the sport because my body went into total shock. Switching from grace to aggression. Having been taught since the age of 3 to be graceful and light on my feet to pounding the ground with all the force I could was traumatizing.”
Miller’s surgery forced her to medically redshirt for indoor season, making her become a freshman indoor runner while being a sophomore academically, she encountered many factors essential to her life as a student athlete, but the most important factor for her is maintaining her relationship with God.
As a confessed, baptized believer in Jesus Christ, Miller understands the importance of putting God first and giving God His time, and contributes her upbringing and activity in Broadview as major components for her faith in God.
“Church has always played a major role in molding my faith walk,” Miller said. “[Faith] has been an essential ingredient in my character. When tested I’m fully equipped with tools to sustain me regardless of the trial. I put on the full armor of God, because it will be required.”
Miller has gained much success since, earning Big Ten Athlete of the Week for holding the 600 Meter Run Freshman Record, which is No. 1 in the nation for indoor season prior to the Big Ten Championship, 4×4 Big Ten Indoor Championship record, 4×4 Purdue Indoor record and the 400 meter record, which itslef is ranked fourth fastest in school history for indoor track, all while receiving all academic honors within her conference, Purdue’s Dean’s list and its Black Caucus.
As one of the top freshmen in the nation, she receives numerous amounts of publicity and recognition, but Miller remains humble, grateful for the support of her family and giving God the glory for all of her success.
“My parents have supported me 200 percent in every endeavor of mine.” Miller emphasized. “Without God I can do nothing. My faith is my check point system. [National recognition] is rewarding, however I’m not consumed. It’s a testament to my rigorous hard work, yet it also indicates what areas I still need to improve in.”
Miller is a current sophomore with a 3.4 overall GPA majoring in Political Science with a minor in Law and Society.
Joshua M. Hicks is a Chicago-based sports writer and broadcaster, follow him on Twitter @jhicks042; Follow We Are Regal Radio on Twitter @regalradio1 and on Facebook under We Are Regal Radio