Sticking with it
Kennedy Miller transitioned from player to coach to continue her love for the game of lacrosse her senior year
Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.
Email This Story
Senior Kennedy Miller has “never been one to conform to gender norms,” and her love for lacrosse is no exception.
“I grew up in a household with four sisters, so my dad just, like, tried to make me a boy essentially,” Miller said. “Dirt biking, lacrosse, even football–things that weren’t typically sought after as female sports, I’ve just kind of always gravitated towards.”
Miller has loved lacrosse and coaching since she started playing in elementary school. Now, she has devoted her senior project to starting and developing the school’s first women’s lacrosse program.
“I really love to learn and I love to teach people how to learn as well,” Miller said. “I felt like I couldn’t leave the program after starting it, and it’s always been one of my goals. I’ve been coaching for my entire life, so that’s what I really like about it.”
The Lovejoy girls lacrosse program has not created a team for the high school yet, but have teams for kindergarten through eighth grade. The practices are held at the high school on Mondays from 6 to 7:30 p.m. and at Willow Springs on Wednesdays during the same hours. Their season has officially started, and games are held at various times throughout each week.
Tanya Barger, Miller’s mom and an administrator of the program, said she thought her daughter’s project was a “valuable way to give back to the Lovejoy community, who have supported her success,” and has aligned with her family’s goal of starting the program.
“Our family has been talking about starting a girls lacrosse team at Lovejoy for several years now,” Barger said. “When Kennedy presented the idea of making this her senior project, it felt like the right time to get the program going.”
David Diaz, men’s assistant lacrosse coach and president of the board for the program, said Kennedy has contributed much to the program already.
“The Lovejoy Lacrosse Club thought it was great that Kennedy wanted to help us get the program started as part of her senior project,” Diaz said. “Kennedy has been a tremendous help. She worked tirelessly over the fall helping us get the program up and running. A lot of the younger girls in the program really look up to Kennedy. That has been great to see.”
Because Miller started her lacrosse career before the women’s team was created, she has been playing for the Allen women’s lacrosse team. Her motivation for starting the program was to give girls team experiences she never had with her own high school peers.
“I thought it would be so cool to actually see my teammates in the hallway and change in the locker rooms, things that I had never had at my lacrosse experience before,” Miller said. “Those little things that a lot of kids take for granted like partying on the bus together before a big game or jamming out in the locker rooms; those little things that I never had, but that I’m so excited that future lacrosse players will at Lovejoy.”
Miller said she also hopes to create an environment where girls feel like they can balance school and lacrosse, and not compromise their standards.
“I’ve been a student-athlete my entire life, and a lot of times it’s hard to find coaches that care about developing a well-rounded student athlete,” Miller said. “I’ve never played for or found a program to volunteer at that is focused on growing student athletes to become great contributing members of society.”
Miller looks forward to being a contributor to the team and helping the girls progress.
“I feel like I’m passing on a part of me,” Miller said. “I’m leaving a legacy at Lovejoy. I always think back to when I started in fifth grade and how impactful those people were in my life. That idea that someone can look at you when you’re doubtful of your own capabilities and tell you that ‘Yes, you can do it’, and then eventually you start to believe in yourself. That’s what I really want to focus on: making these kids great student-athletes, growing them to be great little Leopards, and just really representing our community and the program.”