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Miller is confident the new lacrosse team will make an immediate impact

Megan Kinner, Contributor

Clemson midfielder Marina Miller (13) cradles the ball during an exhibition game against Campbell on Oct. 2, 2022. 

In June 2021, Clemson University announced the addition of a new women’s lacrosse team, later bringing in head coach Allison Kwolek, who previously coached at the University of Richmond.

To help jumpstart the program, Kwolek pulled many transfers and graduate students for her roster, one of which is midfielder Marina Miller.

Miller started her collegiate career at Penn State, playing there for over a year before transferring to Richmond to play under Kwolek. 

With the pair’s previous connection, Miller decided to follow her coach to Clemson for one last run, hoping to leave an impact during Clemson’s inaugural year.

In an interview with The Tiger, Miller said her decision to play as a graduate student at Clemson was because she “trusted (Kwolek’s) vision.”

While the newly-assembled team and program have yet to begin its first regular season, Miller predicts that the team will make an immediate impact at Clemson.

“Our staff has high expectations,” Miller said. “The ACC is really challenging, but I think they do a really good job of pushing us to play at that speed, especially practice at that speed.”

As one of the more experienced players on the Tigers’ roster, Miller will bring plenty of production from previous seasons. 

During her 2022 season, Miller had 20 goals, 10 assists and finished second at Richmond in draw controls with 48. 

When it comes to her teammates, Miller loves that many of them are transfers from smaller schools.

“It is super empowering, in my opinion, to see someone you have played against for four years, and now we are here together,” she said.

While it is difficult to gel with a team with athletes who have never played together, it is also a strength.

“It is like a melting pot,” Miller said. “It’s really special because we learn a lot from each other.”

Miller added that she believes at a big school like Clemson, it will be easy for the team to find and have whatever the program needs to succeed.

The 5-foot-7 veteran hopes that having access to Clemson’s resources will allow the new team to have a smooth transition into a highly developed lacrosse program. Still, Miller and the rest of the team aren’t taking the opportunity for granted. 

“Something we always say is ‘stay humble and hungry,’” Miller stated.

One of Miller’s inspirations to stay hungry comes from Clemson softball, which was the most recent addition to Clemson’s athletic program and had its first season in 2020. 

“I think the softball program has been a really, really strong source of motivation for us,” Miller said.“I think we can learn a lot from them.”

Miller added that the older athletes have had meetings with their sports psychologist to discuss the importance of leaving a legacy and leaving the program in good hands — something that Miller doesn’t take lightly. 

“Everyday when we show up for practice, and when we show up for each other, we are setting that standard,” Miller said.

The midfielder knows a thing or two about leadership too. In her senior year at Richmond, she was named team captain, starting in all 18 games. She was also named Richmond Athletics’ Iron SPIDY—an award that only one female and male student-athlete receive. 

Miller originally transferred to Richmond because it was smaller than Penn State but thinks Clemson is different because of what the University does for its student-athletes.

“I have been blown away by Clemson,” Miller said. “I think what athletics does for every student-athlete, the resources that every team is given, the opportunities and the clubs and the leadership programs that you can be a part of really sets it apart.”

She is especially passionate about spreading the lacrosse culture in the south, as it is special to see young girls come and watch them play.

“This is going to be awesome, showing young girls what we do in the community just because we have been to other sporting events and we see how many young kids come out to these games, and I think that part of Clemson is really special,” Miller said. 

After Clemson, Miller hopes to pursue a career in coaching after earning a master’s degree in athletic leadership at Clemson to gain better coaching skills and experience.

But for now, Miller is leading the way for Clemson’s first lacrosse season. 

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