Meet The Athlete: Chance Miller

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Story and photos by Tyler Francke, Active Media Contributing Writer

In the shortened high school football season that many feared would never happen in the first place, senior Cougar standout Chance Miller is determined to make it count. Through the Cougars’ first two games, the dynamic Miller was third in the state in receiving yards and fourth in touchdowns.

And he scored in other ways as well: In both contests, he was the first to put Cougar points on the board, taking a kick return 90 yards back for a score in the season opener, and a punt return almost that far just a couple of minutes into the first quarter of game 2. “Chance Miller has taken his game to an even higher level – which is scary,” Coach Jimmy Joyce said at the time. “Two weeks, two special teams touchdowns.”

While his speed and agility are obvious, his stamina and conditioning are perhaps even more impressive. Though it’s not uncommon for high school football stars to play roles on both offense and defense, Miller also plays both sides of special teams, even serving as the Cougars’ kicker. “He never comes off the field,” Joyce said. “He is, by far, one of the most dynamic athletes in the state.”

Miller is known not only for how difficult he is to catch, but how hard he is to bring down once you do, often breaking several tackles on the way to big gains. He chalks that up to the mindset of how he approaches each play. “I just tell myself, ‘I’m not going to go down,’” he said. “And if I do go down, it’s going to take five or six people. You just have to have that mindset, that if I’m going to go down, it’s going to take more than one person.”

Known for being a human highlight reel on the gridiron, it may surprise readers to learn that Miller’s first love was a very different sport. Born in Fairbanks, Alaska, he grew up with a passion for bicycle motocross, better known as BMX. “My parents owned up a BMX bike shop up there in Alaska,” he recalled. “So, as a kid, I was out there at, like, 3 years old, riding the track.”

When his family moved to Albany, Oregon, he began dabbling in more traditional sports – especially soccer. “But when we moved to Canby, it was all football,” he said with a laugh. “And I’m pretty fast, so a couple of the [football] coaches came and talked to me. And I’ve just loved football ever since.”
Miller was obviously born with athletic talent, but he’s honed his natural gifts through years of disciplined conditioning and exercise, something he continued during the coronavirus hiatus, which lasted more than a year for traditional fall sports like football.

“Wake up in the morning, work out, go train for the military, schooling, and then practice again and homework all night,” he said, describing his routine. “Scheduling, time management, writing stuff down and just really having something to look forward to.”

Miller is obviously looking forward to showcasing his skills for the rest of the shortened football season, and also plans to participate in basketball and track and field later this year. He’s also excited about what is coming after high school, having verbally committed to join the United States Air Force, attend the Air Force Academy and play for their Division I football team, the Falcons.

“They called and offered right after my junior year,” Miller said. “And with everything that’s been going on, it all came pretty fast. It’s just seemed like a great opportunity to go play at the Air Force and to serve.” Miller could certainly do worse than joining the Falcons, who are known for their premiere offense, the distinctive lightning bolts on their helmets and for their players excelling in academics as well as athletics.

In his junior year, Miller not only reeled in 59 catches and piled up 1,127 receiving and rushing yards, with nine touchdowns (top 10 in the state in all three categories), he also maintained a 3.8 GPA.

“The Air Force Academy offers unbelievable personnel opportunities outside of playing Division I football,” Coach Joyce said. “As I told Chance, the Pac-12 and SEC recruit the best football players in the country. The service academies recruit great football players who are also the best people in the country, and that’s Chance.”