By Nicole Hansen SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — Kat Miller always had a part of her that wanted to go to Syracuse. But after dedicating most of her life to field hockey, her sporting career took her another way: Kent State.
Not long into her freshman year, her life took a different turn.
“It’s hard to talk about, because a lot of the day, I don’t remember anymore,” Miller said.
It was an early morning workout, and Miller said she knew she didn’t feel right.
“I didn’t feel right that day,” she said. “We were doing dead-lifts, and I picked up the bar and had it halfway up. And I said, ‘You know I don’t know if I can bring this all the way up’.”
After her trainer insisted she could, Miller tried to clean it. That’s when she felt it.
“My entire back just cracked,” Miller remembered. “I thought maybe for a moment it was just me stretching or working out muscles I hadn’t used in a while, and then I realized that my knees and my legs and everything…I lost feeling, and it didn’t feel good anymore.”
After feeling a range of emotions, she ended on excitement.
“I always wanted to come to Syracuse,” she admitted.
However, before coming to Central New York, Miller took time off to rehabilitate physically, but also mentally. So she went back home.
“No one plans on picking up the life that they were planning on having for four years and just going back home,” she said. “Especially a freshman in college, there’s just so much you want to do. There’s so much that you plan on getting done.”
Luckily, Miller wasn’t in this alone. Between her family and friends, she got the support she needed to start over.
Between playing lacrosse in the front yard with her brother, to talking through things with her parents, Miller made the decision to get back into sports.
“If it weren’t for my dad, it would have really been tough for me to want to keep playing a sport,” she recalled. “He sat me down and he said, ‘Okay, this is what you want to do? This is what we’re gonna do. This is gonna be your new goal’.”
“My mom was a little big nervous about it,” Miller said. “My dad was like, ‘Scooter’s gonna play a sport’.”
She found out about the Syracuse Club Lacrosse Team from a tiny poster, and from a former teammate, who encouraged her to come to tryouts.
“I was really skeptical at first,” Miller remembered. “It was the first time I’d picked up a stick since my district game in my senior year of high school…Everything came back. It was like I hadn’t skipped a beat with it. It was overwhelming, I got really emotional that first day because I walked off the field after tryouts and I was just like, ‘I did it’.”
Years later, Miller is a captain on the team, and helping teammates with anything, from helping coach them to helping with injuries of their own. But those teammates are also there for her, even when she doesn’t know she needs it.
“When she’s really pushing herself and sometimes people will be like, ‘Kat, you’re going hard like always, but like, how are you doing actually?'” co-captain Hallie Allex said. “She’s very good about talking and really keeping open.”
Overall, Miller said it’s those girls that really mean a lot to her, and what have made her time at Syracuse so special.
“The group of girls that we have, they really care,” she emphasized. “That makes me feel really proud of my job.”