Thursday, February 19, 2015

Andrew "Joey" Miller Joins Slate of Crusader Athletes to be Named "Star Athlete of the Week"

Being a sports lover is something that comes easy to Harrells Christian Academy senior Andrew Miller.

If you have followed Crusaders over the last two years, you have seen Miller’s work in newspapers - including The Sampson Weekly - read his blogs and also followed his scoring summaries on Twitter.

If you are a fan of Harrells Christian Academy Athletics, Miller, who is officially called HCA’s Director of Sports Communications, is one of the unsung heroes of the school.

Hero is too strong of a word, says the humble 17-year-old. “Well I just kind of jumped into it,” he said. “I started the Twitter page to keep people informed on how we are doing. Our teams (especially football) have to travel to Charlotte and some people just can’t get there. So I started the Twitter page, just thinking I may have about 100 people –maybe -but it turned out a lot of people have been following it.”

In fact, Harrells Twitter page has 400-plus followers.

If you have been to any of the Crusader home games, it is Miller’s voice you hear announcing the starting line-ups for the teams.

“I try to make it a big production,” he says. “With basketball, we try and do intro videos for the boys and girls. We try and make it into a major production.”

So impressed with his hard work and effort, officials from Harrells Christian Academy nominated Miller for this week’s Performance Auto/Sampson Weekly Star Athlete of the Week.

When told of the honor, Miller says he is stunned.

“I had no idea,” he admits. “I am just the guy who writes the articles ... I am really surprised; I just had no idea. To know that someone has nominated me for this, it makes me feel really good.”

“It is a lot of work and a lot of late nights,” he admits. “But when you are walking the hallways and players say they read your work or liked what you wrote about them, it means a lot. To know that they appreciate what you do ... that means everything. It makes it all worth it.”

The behind-the-scenes work that Miller puts in is something that keeps him focused too.
“It really pushes me to another level,” he admits. “I have to meet deadlines and get things done in order. For me, it really balances everything out.”

Born to Sandy and Gregory Miller, Andrew grew up living in Burgaw. He also has an older brother, Nathan, who is a senior at N.C. State University.

“I have always been around sports,” Miller said. “We have always had season tickets to N.C. State football and basketball games and I get a lot of my ideas from them and the way that their media department handles those teams with the production. I have just always loved sports. When my brother played at Harrells, I was water boy. In fact, if you look back at some of the old pictures (from Harrells) you can see a kid in a white shirt on the sidelines with the water (laughs) ... that is me. So, I have always been around it.”
Ironically, for someone who loves football, Miller was told he would never be able to play it.

“I was born with an enlarged heart,” he explains. “So, I was told that I would never be able to participate in playing the game. I grew up knowing that. But I did play JV basketball and I love playing baseball, which I will play again this year. Our baseball team made it to the state championships last year and lost in a 3-game series. But this year, we are going to have a good team too. So hopefully we will be vying for the state title this year.”

But don’t let him fool you, Miller noted that his senior year is going to be a bittersweet one for him. In that, he is trying to savor every last moment to enjoy his final year of school.

“You know, some days I think that I am ready for the year to end,” he said, “but then I think how hard it is going to be. I was just thinking that the basketball team is in the playoffs and to think that this will be the last time that I will be announcing the starting line-ups at the game for them - It is going to be hard.”

Although his parents are CPA’s and his brother is going to school for accounting as well, Miller, who has already been accepted to Campbell University and UNC-W (he will hear back from N.C. State in March), said that he is going to college for Communications.
“I want to start to make connections and just have the opportunity to get my foot in the door,” Miller said. “That is what I want to do for a career – something in professional sports media. That is my dream. I am hoping to start working with one sports team and to just go from there.”

He has already started showing that professionalism when he gets behind the microphone to introduce players at Crusader games.

“I like to get dressed up for the games,” he explained. “I wear a blazer and a tie to the games. It makes it more professional. When you do that and carry yourself a certain way (professionally) it shows respect for what you are doing and, really, for yourself.”

One group that Miller is very aware of is the younger students at Harrells.

“It is important for me to give back to this school and my community because of the kids,” he said. “I am 6 foot 2 inches and if I see a kid I will say ‘hi’ or give them a high-five because every kid wants to feel included. We all do.”

When asked what he will miss most about Harrells Christian Academy, Miller said that it is hard to put into words.

“Always be thankful for opportunities that you are blessed with,” he said without hesitation. “When you get it, take advantage of it. Look at me, I was told sports wasn’t an option when I was little and I turned it around and made it so I can still be involved with sports. You just have to make it happen. All you have to do is work hard.”

In addition to his family, Miller said that he wanted to send special ‘thank yous’ to some other special people.

He also wanted to thank the athletic department at Harrells.

Miller is the perfect example of making the most of his opportunities, but it also helps that he has the ambition and drive to make sure that all of his future dreams will come to fruition. We wish him the best of luck in all of his endeavors.

Other Crusader athletes who have been named the Sampson Weekly Performance Auto Star Athlete of the Week include OH Rouse and Ashley Usher

All credit for this article goes to the Sampson Weekly

Although he does play baseball (second baseman) for the Crusaders and played JV basketball for two years, Miller said that he is most at home working as sports director for the teams.

Another reason why that is important to him is because he knows that others are watching him work.
“You don’t know what kind of impact you are making on someone,” he said. “If you hold yourself to a higher level, kids will follow in those footsteps. I want to set a good example when I do what I do. Because you just don’t know who will be watching ...”

For his Eagle Scout project (in Boy Scout Troop 242 out of Burgaw) Miller built an archery range (Camp Kirkwood) and a shed. Which is still used by his community.

Which is exactly why leaving the school in the next couple of months will be hard for him.

“Well, I will miss a little bit of everything,” he explains. “From being around all the teams and all of the happiness and celebrations after a win, to really, the family aspect of being here at Harrells. I have been around the same people for the past 13 years and it is truly like family to me and in being part of that ‘family’ ... I am going to miss it.”
Is there a piece of advice he would give to a younger student coming into high school?

“Well, I have to thank Gina Strickland,” he said. “She is the one who told me that I had a gift for writing when I was in the 10th grade. She saw a gift in me and I thank her for that.”

“I have to thank all the coaches for allowing me to get in and be part of the teams and the student-athletes at the school, without them, I wouldn’t be able to do anything. I have been blessed to be able to continue to cover them and they are really good teams that have had success and that has really helped too.”

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