If Jenn Miller was any tougher, she’d open bottles with her teeth. Miller, a midfielder, was the best all-around player for the Cor Jesu soccer team this spring, and everyone knew it. When the whistle blew, Miller had to be, more often than not, ready to rumble. Soccer is notoriously physical, and the midfield is where bodies collide, legs get intertwined and the occasional elbow introduces itself to a rib cage. In the midfield, you can turn around into someone’s chest one minute and the next be admiring those pretty, puffy clouds high in the sky.
A 5-foot, 18-year-old speedster with mad handles, Miller wasn’t the easiest target to hit. Nevertheless, she took her share of lickings and, every time, pulled herself back up. She never came off the field for the Chargers, no matter how hard she got whacked. “I don’t want the other team to think they can get in my head,” Miller says. “I can’t let the other team intimidate me.”
Instead, it was Cor Jesu that did the intimidating. The Chargers finished the season 23-2 and walked off with the Class 3 state championship on June 2. Cor Jesu toppled Lee’s Summit North 3-0 at Blue Springs South High School to win its second state title in school history.
Miller was the heartbeat of the Chargers. She tallied 14 goals and six assists, half of which came during the postseason. Quiet and poised, Miller leads by example. She’s not a rah-rah kind of captain—she lets her work ethic and play do the talking—and they speak volumes.
Maybe it comes from being the youngest of four siblings, with three brothers that are eight, six and four years older. That’s where she says some of her toughness developed at a young age. “Having three older brothers, that helps,” she says with a chuckle.
At some point, one of her older brothers wanted to practice his free kicks. So he asked Miller if she could help him out. “He used me as the wall,” she says.
At certain points during her playing career, Miller has felt like there was a wall in front of her. Her sophomore year, the Chargers advanced to the state semifinals and were thoroughly taken apart by eventual champion Liberty. It was the type of beating that, to this day, still gets Miller hot under the collar. “We were embarrassed by that loss to Liberty,” she says.
Last year, the Chargers dominated their district semifinal against Lindbergh but couldn’t score a goal. They lost in penalty kicks. In the fall, the Cor Jesu field hockey team, which Miller was a prominent part of, spent the season handing one beating after the next all the way to the state title game. They were upended by Lafayette, the first public school program to win the state field hockey title.
When the spring season rolled around, Miller and the Chargers had one last opportunity to end the season and their careers the way they wanted—as champions. “All of it kind of came together,” she says. “It felt better than I’d imagined.”
Miller will spend her summer playing with her club soccer team before heading off to Ole Miss, where she’ll begin her collegiate career. She’s not sure what she’d like to study, but the pharmacy program has piqued her interest. “When I visited, I felt like I could go there and compete for a spot immediately,” Miller says on why Ole Miss appealed to her soccer side.
Miller will have her hands full stepping up to the Division I level. The players are all bigger, stronger and faster. The one thing they’re not, though, is tougher. Miller will make sure of that.