Oct. 8, 2008
Jimmy Miller might spend his Saturday's toiling in the relative anonymity of the offensive line, but he's never been one to shy away from standing up for issues and concepts that are important to him.
At Fort Bend Austin High School, Miller was standout linemen, but also a student leader, helping to energize and popularize the campus chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. "It had been much more of a straight Bible study group, but we made it a club for student-athletes who had the same core beliefs," Miller said.
When he came to Rice, Miller sought to continue his involvement with FCA, but found the Rice chapter was also lacking focus and direction. He immediately joined with a number of fellow student-athletes to make the chapter a place for Owl student-athletes to come together and create a comfort zone.
"We're not trying to re-create church," Miller notes. "What we've tried to create is an environment where other student-athletes can get away from the demands of both our classes and our sport. We all come together since we are all running the same race, balancing school and athletics," he added.
Miller also is a ready volunteer to speak to local schools, in the hope that he can inspire younger students the way one of his coaches in high school (Richard Lazarou) inspired him.
"He really shaped me into the person I am today," Miller notes. "I see so many kids out there who don't have a father figure and they need a role model. They see too many examples of athletes who give the wrong example. I want to take every chance I have to get in front of kids and show them the kind of example that doesn't get shown on TV."
Over his five years at Rice, Miller has accumulated the kind of experience that backs up his message to students.
"Playing football at a school like Rice has taught me the value of a positive approach to any challenge that comes your way. I have been able to handle so many things by keeping a positive attitude and continuing to push through the tough times," he states.
"So much has changed here at Rice since I first came to campus. We were never competitive and now we talk about bowl games and conference championships. That all came from hard work, and from a positive attitude."
As his career at Rice winds down, Miller plans to spend his first post-football years gaining some experience in the business world after graduation. Eventually he intends to return to school to pursue an MBA. But even while he takes aim at moving up the rungs of the corporate ladder, he also knows that part of his focus will remain on the next generation.
As someone who balances a goal for personal growth with a desire to give something back to the future generations of Rice Owls, Jimmy Miller is one of Tomorrow's Leaders.