This story was reported by Ashley Lisenby
LONDON — Sometimes destiny finds a person when they least expect it. For U.S. Olympic rower Will Miller, 28, destiny caught up with him while studying engineering at Northeastern University.
After playing lacrosse in high school, Miller entered university not really expecting to join the crew team, but was recruited and accepted the challenge. As the son of a former rowing Olympian, joining the crew team was not far-fetched at all.
“I had been around the sport,” said Miller, “my father was pretty involved.”
Miller’s father, William Miller, was a U.S. Olympic rower in the 1972 Munich Games and now coaches at the Duxbury Bay Maritime School in Duxbury, Massachusetts.
“I’ve got to pinch myself,” said Miller’s father. “I mean it’s a dream. Not in my wildest dreams would I ever think that he would pursue what I had pursued, rowing, and excel to such a phenomenal level.”
Miller did not see the point of pursuing the sport to such an expert level at first either. While at Northeastern and after graduation, however, rowing became an even bigger part of his life.
“I just found myself working out a little bit more,” he said. “Just doing some ergs and getting back out on the Charles every once in a while. I didn’t really know why I was doing it, but I started doing it more and more and then realized I missed the competitive nature of it.”
Miller moved from his home state of Massachusetts across the country to train in California with his sights set on a spot in the Olympics. After a selection process that lasted several months, Miller was selected for the Olympic team.
Miller and seven of his teammates received their chance to secure their spot in the Games at the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta in May.
“There’s only one boat that advances out of that,” Miller said. “So we knew it was do or die.”
The sport is so demanding, said Miller’s father. “It requires such a high level of fitness, technique, dedication and time.”
It was those attributes — fitness, technique, dedication and time — that brought the team to the Olympics, helped them place first in the Men’s Eight Heats on the first day of the Games and complete the Final in fourth place, within seconds of the bronze medal-winning boat.
“It was a hard fought race,” Miller said. “We got fourth, which is a little bit of a bitter pill to swallow being so close to the medals, but I am proud of the guys. I am proud of what we’ve done and where we’ve come from.”
From Massachusetts, to California, to London, Miller has come a long way to fulfill his passion for the sport and continue a family legacy.
“You’ve been there all along. You’ve watched them from when they were little and you’ve encouraged them as they’ve grown,” said Miller’s mother, Sally Miller, “And now you give them wings and let them go and hope they are just as happy with all of this as you are.”