Reed senior Ali Miller is the Sparks Tribune Female Athlete of the Year for the 2015-16 athletic season.
In the fall, Miller was a first-team all-league midfielder for the Raiders’ soccer team, the High Desert League runner up. She was third on the team in goals (five) and second in assists (six).
In the spring, Miller was part of the Reed’s DI North champion 4×100 meter relay as well as the 4x400m relay that was the regional runner up. The 4x100m relay went on to take fifth at state while the 4x400m relay grabbed fourth. She also finished fifth in the 100m at the regional meet.
That’s a spectacular way to end a high school career. Throw in the adversity she overcame, and it’s almost unbelievable.
At the Arcadia Invitational in Los Angeles, early in her junior track season, Miller felt a pop in her foot right after the gun in the 100m.
“It popped out of the blocks and I was like, ‘this is a weird feeling and I can’t bend my three outside toes.’ They don’t move at all anymore. They still don’t,” Miller said.
After returning to Sparks, a CT scan revealed “a huge piece of bone floating.”
Miller broke her calcaneus (her heel) and needed surgery to remove the dismembered bone fragment. However, rehab for the operation would’ve put her senior soccer season in jeopardy. She opted to play through the pain.
“All the pivoting, that really hurt it and (Coach Jason) Saville knew it. I just told Saville I was playing no matter what,” Miller said.
She again elected to forego surgery in the winter to prevent missing time on the track.
Running through the torment wasn’t the only tough decision she made this spring. Miller had a 200m time that was good enough to qualify for the state meet. However, already planning to run in the 100m, 4x100m relay and 4x400m relay she had to choose between the 200m and the 4x200m relay. Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association rules dictate the most events an athlete can compete in is four.
She decided to help her teammates.
“We (Reed coach Dale Moss and herself) kind of had a talk about it. I basically made the decision because I was the only senior on the 4x200m team,” Miller said. “All the younger girls were like ‘get us to state.’ … And I was like ‘alright, I want to get there, I want to get there with my team.’”
A disqualification prevented the relay from getting there.
It was a rare dark moment in a sterling senior year for Miller, on and off the pitch/track.
In the classroom, she compiled a 4.6 weighted Grade Point Average and earned a significant academic scholarship to Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Ariz. where she plans to study nursing. She will also walk on to the track team.
She was also one of 13 Reed seniors to earn the Golden Raider: An award given to seniors who earned a GPA of 3.7 or better and notched two varsity letters their senior year with at least four in their high school career.
And she did it all with a broken foot.
Conceded Miller: “Yeah, it’s pretty cool.”
Female Athlete of the Year Honorable Mention
Halley Morgan, Spanish Springs – Morgan was a first-team all-league forward for the High Desert League champion girls soccer team. She also played a significant role for the basketball team in the winter.
Mackenzie Howren, Reed – Howren hit .375 with three home runs and 29 RBIs for the softball team this spring, earning honorable mention honors. She was also a starter for the girls golf team in the fall.
Ryia Grant, Reed – Grant was a named to the DI North second team as an outfielder for the Raiders this spring, but was forced into the starting catching role before the regional tournament, which Reed won. She also gave football a go in the fall, carrying the rock a handful of times for the Raiders.
Lauryn Massic, Spanish Springs – Massic was a first-team all-region cross country runner in the fall. She was also one of Northern Nevada’s best distance runners for the Cougars’ track and field team in the spring.
*Athletes are required to be multi-sport seniors to be considered for Sparks Tribune Female Athlete of the Year.
**The 2015-16 Sparks Tribune Team of the Year will be revealed next week. Spanish Springs’ Ryan Anderson was the 2015-16 Sparks Tribune Male Athlete of the Year.