Sisterly act on water


When the Academic All-Big Ten team was announced for the 2009 spring season, rowing led the way for Iowa with 22 honorees. Three sisters, senior Hannah Miller and sophomores Haylie and Heidie Miller, earned the distinction by excelling both in the water and in the classroom.

To earn garner the award, the athletes must be varsity letter winners and have a career grade-point average of at least 3.0. The eldest sister said doing both of these is a testament to the value of hard work.

“It is pretty exciting,” Hannah Miller said. “It shows that we managed the workload of rowing and … of school. It shows that you have to work hard and stay focused.”

Hannah Miller said she got involved in rowing her freshman year at Iowa after hearing about it from a high-school friend. She relied on the coaching staff to teach her the sport.

She started out on the novice team and made the first Varsity 8 boat by her sophomore year. For her junior year, she was joined by her two sisters, twins Haylie and Heidie.

“[We] watched our sister race while [we] were in high school and then joined the team our freshman year of college,” Heidie Miller said.

For the next two seasons, the three Miller sisters provided a lot of support for each other. Among the benefits for Haylie and Heidie Miller was someone to learn from while trying to make the varsity.

“Hannah helped us transition to varsity,” Heidie Miller said. “She encouraged us, and we weren’t afraid to ask stupid questions.”

Haylie Miller agreed, noting the help of her sisters and the coaching staff.

“There definitely were benefits to having all three of us on the team,” she said. “We pushed each other a lot, and Hannah was not afraid to tell me what I was doing wrong. Being new, [Hannah and the coaches] had to teach us everything. They taught us how to push ourselves.”

The work ethic carried over to the off-season, where the three of them worked out together.

“We pushed each other a lot,” Heidie Miller said. “We would work out together in the garage … and we always looked to see how hard we were rowing. We wouldn’t let each other take days off.”

Keeping up was especially tough during the school year, and time management proved vital to them.

“We had to get up at 5 a.m. to work out, go to class, lift weights in the afternoon, go home and eat, and all of a sudden it is 10 p.m., and you feel like you have to go to bed,” Hannah Miller said.

With Hannah Miller graduating, Haylie and Heidie admit it will be much different next year.

“We’ll definitely be on our own more,” Heidie Miller said. “Hannah always made sure we knew what to do.”

Iowa head coach Mandi Kowal summed up the Miller sisters’ effect on the team.

“They are a good, hard working family,” she said. “As a team, we got to enjoy their sense of humor and they are just an enjoyable group of people. … They were enjoyable, worked hard, and took care of school.”

Earning these honors proves to be a fitting end to the trio’s time together at Iowa, showing that excellence in sport and in school can be achieved.

“[Doing well in school] is really important,” Heidie Miller said. “You shouldn’t use the excuse of ‘I’m an athlete’ for getting bad grades.”

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