Miller enjoys championship season
A majority of high school golfers wait years to perfect their games and garner individual honors.
Some even go through their entire high school career without a sole title.
Northwestern's Cole Miller was not one of them.
He has perfected his game early in his high school career and has two championships already under his belt.
Miller had a brilliant 2011, where he acquired the Colonial League championship and then followed it up with a District 11 championship.
The most impressive part of it is that this sophomore has already achieved a dream that most never attain by graduation.
For those accomplishments, Miller has been named the TIMES NEWS Golfer of the Year award for 2011-12.
When asked to reflect upon this past season, Miller said, "It was a lot of fun, which is what I try to get out of playing the sport. Everything else kind of just came along the way."
Northwestern head coach Justin Smith also commented on the accolades of his top performer.
"It's a fun time to be a coach when you have a kid with that much talent on the team," he said. "He improved so much from last year to this year in that this season, he became consistently strong.
"I think he has the fire and he knows he has to work at it in order to be great in the sport."
For some players, the quest to become great continues well into the golden years of life. However, the head start that Miller possesses is due to a strong work ethic, coupled with a good head on his shoulders and the desire to be outstanding.
To start out his season, this past summer Miller bested the field in the Blue Ridge Country Club's Men's Championship and followed it up with a Wasser Cup title with Steven Reitz. The Wasser Cup is a two-man tournament with a high school-aged field of players and is held at Locust Valley.
In the third round of the Lehigh Valley Amateur championship, he lost to the champion, Brian Johnson.
Throughout the high school golf season, Miller was named the TV-13 Athlete of the Week once; led his NW squad to a 10-4 record, as they competed for a Colonial League Championship; took first place at both the Colonial League and District 11 championships; finished tied for seventh at Regionals; and qualified for states, where he overcame a sluggish first day to finish in 31st place.
"The high point of my season was definitely the week of districts," Miller said. "I kind of faded out after that. I didn't get as much practice as I would have liked and I kind of lost focus for states."
One of the few disappointments in the entire season for Miller was the opening day at States, where he shot a 12-over-par 83 on York's Heritage Hills Golf Course.
Miller said he would have liked to play better at states and maybe even contend for a medal, but he knows having been there this year will benefit him in future seasons.
"When you get back you know what the pressure is, you know the course a little more," Miller said. "There's a little less unexpected."
When asked if being only a sophomore meant anything to him, he commented, "Not really. I just try and get out there and play to the best of my ability."
Smith remembered a specific instance that put Miller's work ethic into perspective. The team had practice and the rain was coming down. Smith mentioned to them that they play in the rain, so they should practice in the rain.
"I had them play just four or five holes and I remember watching Cole on the last green.
"The rain was pouring down, and he just stayed out there and kept practicing his putting," Smith said.
It's that kind of devotion, fire, and desire for improvement that molds a player into a champion like Miller.
With a support system like Miller has, it's easy to get good; but it's the internal push and motivation that make Miller such a special student-athlete.
"I'd definitely like to thank Coach Smith for the mental preparation over the course of the past year," Miller said. "My dad, Carl, has also kept me motivated and always helped me out if I had a problem. Also, I'd like to thank Nick Vecellio, who'd always practiced with me and it always helped to practice and play with someone that's close to me talent-wise."