Shelby Lum / Lantern photographer
Ohio State gymnast Sarah Miller was named the Big Ten Events Specialist last week after being named Big Ten co-event specialist the previous week, continuing her soar on the scoreboards, but everything has not always been so easy for the talented athlete.
After losing her mother at the age of 3, her grandparents at ages 13 and 14 and a coach as well, Miller managed to stay on track with gymnastics.
Miller credits her successes and her tenacity to her late mother, who did mommy-and-me gymnastics classes when Miller was 2.
“I think the main reason I stuck with gymnastics is because my mom got me into it and just kind of trying to make her proud in what she started me in,” Miller said.
The junior Collegeville, Pa., native has found a safe haven in gymnastics. Every aspect of the sport has become a sense of comfort for Miller.
“I know that if I didn’t have gym, I don’t know what I would do. It’s my home. It’s my stress reliever,” Miller said. “This is my family and these are my girls.”
Melanie Shaffer, junior all-around gymnast and an acquaintance from Miller’s childhood turned friend, teammate and roommate, also provided a sense of comfort for Miller.
“We became really close friends when we first got to Ohio State, but we met a little bit throughout club gymnastics because we are both from Pennsylvania,” Shaffer said.
Although several of Miller’s teammates see her as the funny girl on the team, her coach said that Miller has a guard up.
“She’s not super easy to get to know right away,” said Carey Fagan, OSU women’s gymnastics coach. “I think it takes a while for her to trust people and to let people into her inner circle because she’s lost a lot of people over time, and I think that has impacted her, and she takes her time getting to know people.”
Fagan has also noticed that Miller has the tendency to be rather tough on herself.
“She’s a perfectionist,” Fagan said. “She likes to go until she gets it right and I think that mentality over the years has taken a toll on her body.”
Titled the Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2011, she began to experience the pressures of a collegiate athlete.
“Winning Big Ten Freshman of the Year, she has sort of emerged as the star of our team and she thrives (on) that,” Fagan said. “She loves being in that anchor spot in her events and she competes remarkably under pressure.”
The expected dream of a collegiate gymnast is usually to make it to the Olympics, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth for Miller.
“There’s always that (Olympic) dream when you’re a little kid, but after I started to come to realize, it’s not really what I want,” Miller said. “My dream is to be a collegiate coach.”
OSU women’s gymnastics is set to next take on Michigan Friday at 7 p.m. at St. John Arena.