Marvellous Miller makes many sacrifices to get to the top

SUNSHINE Coast Lightning mid courter Annie Miller may only be young, but has still had quite the journey to get to where she is today. and is well aware of the sacrifices necessary to make it to the elite level.

The 22-year-old’s netballing journey began far away from the lights of the Suncorp Super Netball, in the vast open spaces of regional New South Wales.

“I grew up in a small town called Orange, out in central west New South Wales.” Miller said. “I probably started playing netball when I was four for my school and I played representative netball for juniors for Orange, and then I did school teams. I was in the Aussie schoolgirls in under 15s, and then I moved to Sydney in year 11 and started playing for Manly-Warringah”

“I did Premier League through them, and made state teams for under 17s New South Wales and under 19s New South Wales and made Aussie squads for both age groups, then I was in Giants Academy and I was a training partner for one year with the Giants… then got my first professional contract with the Lightning for the 2022 season.”

Making a wealth of representative teams meant a lot of kilometres under the belt for Miller and her family, not just on the netball court.

“When I started to make state teams on my own, my lovely parents took a lot of time out of their lives to take me to Sydney a couple of times a week for training and for games, which I’m super grateful for,” she said.

“I think hadn’t we done that it sort of would have taken me longer to get in the system. Unfortunately back in that time, which wasn’t too long ago, I think state teams were heavily favoured towards metropolitan kids, but now I think it’s exciting to see lots of country kids getting their go in those sorts of teams.”

The family’s move to Sydney came about because of a number of factors, one being young Miller’s netball career progressing and for better career opportunities for in particular her dad.

She initially became a midcourter because of her height, but thanks to a background in athletics it gave her a strong engine for the role. She doesn’t mind taking up position though, and says midcourters are “the unsung heroes of netball”.

Her move to the Lightning could have come a lot sooner than it did.

The Australian Under 21 coach while Miller was in the team was none other than now former Lightning coach Kylee Byrne, who suggested Miller come join her on the Sunshine Coast as a training partner.

Not ready to move that far away yet, Miller decided to stay in Sydney and sign on as a training partner at the Giants.

However, after making her debut but then not earning a full contract as a member of the GIANTS main squad of 10, Miller did end up taking up Byrne’s offer a year later and moved up to the Sunshine Coast.

“Kylee sort of gave me a call… and said ‘look, we’ve had a player retire, and you are one of three that we’re looking at, we’re just trying to decide whether we want an attack or defence midcourt, but give me 24 hours and I’ll get back to you’,” Miller said

“It was the longest weekend of my life I remember, but I got a call from her during a physio session and she sort of said ‘would you like to come up and try things on the Sunshine Coast as part of our team for 2022?’ and I think I just cried and said yes, I would love nothing more, so I’m so grateful for the opportunity Kylee gave me last year.”

After she came into the Lightning, she found herself under the wing of Laura Scherian, who became what Miller described as a “mum away from home” and really helped her with all the big life changes that were happening to her at the time.

Miller confessed that the move was certainly daunting, but she was not going to be about to pass up such a huge opportunity.

“Honestly it was a mixture of emotions,” she said. “I don’t think any part of me ever hesitated and said that I wouldn’t do it, it was always yes let’s do it from when I was asked to be part of the team. I think the nature of professional sport, you just never know where you’re going to be and when an opportunity is going to arise, so when Lightning came knocking I definitely followed it willingly and super excited.

“But it definitely was scary to live out of home. I obviously knew of people in the team, but Lightning have some, and we still do have some great players that are obviously well known in the netball world.”

“I didn’t really know anyone moving up here and when I started to move I sort of connected with Reilley Batcheldor who was also moving up from the Gold Coast and we both didn’t really know anybody, so we decided to find a place together and then Kadie-Ann Dehaney ended up moving in with us so we ended up being a little house of misfits that didn’t really know anyone, didn’t really have any family around, and we sort of created our own little family which was nice, for the first couple months of moving away from home which was really nice and now we’re the best of friends.”

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments