Volleyball: Why I Play: Megan Miller talks volleyball career, Northwestern’s growth


Tyler Keim/The Daily Northwestern

Megan Miller. The graduate libero has played a key role for Northwestern since her arrival in Evanston in 2020.

Charlotte Varnes, Sports Editor

When graduate libero Megan Miller arrived at Northwestern in 2020, she made an immediate impact, even amid a season shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic. A transfer from Nebraska, Miller recorded a team-high 118 digs in the 2021 spring season and was a key contributor throughout the 2021 fall campaign. She’s continued to stand out as the 2022 Wildcats experience their best start in a decade, leading the team in digs.

But her love of volleyball began long before she came to NU. Miller picked up the sport as a child, encouraged by her mom who was a coach and her sisters who played themselves. The Daily talked with Miller about how volleyball has changed her life since then, from her time at Nebraska to her outlook on the Cats’ 2022 season.

“Why I Play” is a Q&A series where Wildcats discuss their love for their sports and how they got their starts. This interview has been lightly edited for brevity and clarity.

The Daily: Was there any moment in your childhood that you felt sparked your love for the sport?

Miller: When it came time to start club volleyball, I actually wanted nothing to do with it. Then, (when) I was nine years old, I told my parents that I wanted to try it out. I made a team that was three years older than me, and I had one of the best coaches in volleyball named Steve Shondell. That was when it sparked for me.

The Daily: What did your recruiting journey look like?

Miller: My first visit was in seventh grade. I had been getting a lot of emails, phone calls — you would get mail at the time. Once one visit happened, it kind of blew up. Once one college hears about it, they all want to jump on the train. I was really blessed in that way. I was so young, I didn’t even know what I wanted to wear to school the next day, let alone my biggest life decision so far. I made a decision my freshman year, so I was pretty young.

The Daily: What did the transition to Nebraska look like?

Miller: I only had two days between the day I graduated high school until the day I (went to) Nebraska. It was a lot smoother than I thought. The seniors when I was a freshman were phenomenal, and I still look up to them to this day. They took me under their wing and acted as if I was their little sister.

The Daily: How was the process of transferring to NU?

Miller: I went in the (transfer) portal in January (2020), and I was in no rush to make a decision. I wasn’t sure if I was gonna play volleyball at that point. I just started talking to schools, and I only went on a few visits because of COVID. (NU) was one I really wanted to come to because I’d made a connection with the coaches… The academics were great, and (I knew) it was an up-and-coming program. 

The Daily: What has it been like being part of the program’s growth these past few years?

Miller: It’s exciting, and I (believe) we haven’t reached our full potential yet. I hope that it comes very soon because I think that this group has a lot of potential — more than probably any Northwestern team ever has. It’s been exciting to watch, exciting to be part of it.

The Daily: Are there any lessons you’ve learned from volleyball that you feel have translated to the rest of your life?

Miller: The biggest lesson I have learned is that mental health is more important than anything. I’m a huge advocate for mental health. I’ve been through a lot recently in the past few years. I’ve come to realize that if you’re not on the right track mentally, you will never be on the right track physically. Your mental health has to be there before anything. Sometimes that does mean you have to do the hard thing and put yourself first, even in times when you really don’t want to. 

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @charvarnes11

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