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The Student Voice of Prosper High School

Eagle Nation Online

The Student Voice of Prosper High School

Eagle Nation Online

The Student Voice of Prosper High School

Eagle Nation Online

Cross Country State-qualifier Max Miller finds success from small steps

Senior shares coachable moments from running, music, relationships
Kaya Miller
Wearing a cross country shirt under his overalls, senior Max Miller is introduced as a spirit leader at ‘Meet the Eagles.’ Miller made it to UIL State Cross Country Championships for the third year as a Varsity Elite athlete. He also is a pianist and Spanish Honor Society vice president.

One foot in front of the other, one step at a time. Senior Max Miller said he approaches every opportunity with an open mind. With this mindset, he has succeeded in running – qualifying for the UIL 6A State Cross Country Championships on Nov. 4 – as well as in music and student leadership.

Miller played lacrosse growing up, but when he moved to Texas in eighth grade, he decided to try soccer. He played a season for FC Dallas, until the pandemic hit. He originally joined the cross country team for soccer cross-training, but he decided to take up cross country full-time instead of returning to soccer.

“I knew I was going to be doing cross country, and I wanted a friend, so I tried to get [Max] to join,” senior Eli McWard said. “Then, it’s really just been his dedication, and his hard work that’s gotten him the rest of the way. He’s just a kid who will try something and is always going to give it his all, and I think that’s shown in his results these past few years.”

Miller’s close friend, McWard was another reason Miller joined the team, but the reward was why he stuck with it.

He’s just a kid who will try something and is always going to give it his all, and I think that’s shown in his results these past few years.”

— Eli McWard, senior

“I think how tangible progress was in the sport compared to any other one was rewarding — because I didn’t come to the team as one of our faster runners,” Miller said. “Soccer and lacrosse you can’t really say the exact thing that you need to practice like running. Everything’s timed and everything’s measured out. So to be in a sport where I can, on paper, do everything as quickly as possible, and knowing that I’m doing them correctly, is rewarding.”

The PHS boys cross country team qualified for UIL state for Miller’s sophomore and junior years, and he was the only athlete on the team to qualify this year.

“I think that, of course, having a supportive team around you is the most important – you make friends on the team and you have wonderful coaches that inspire you to work harder,” Miller said. “But I think that the lack of knowledge I had about the sport helped my mindset so much because I had a coach come up to me the first day and say, ‘You want to be state champions?’ I said, ‘I would like to’ and she said, ‘Well then just do what I ask.'”

Miller found the most support from his three closest friends on the cross country team: seniors Layne Sheely, Eli McWard, and Remington Martin.

At PHS Turf and Track, senior Max Miller competes in a track event. Miller competes in cross country in the fall and track in the spring. He said he likes both seasons equally and for different reasons. (Riley McConnell)

“The friendly competition you have with your friends is important,” Miller said. “You have people who are so friendly, caring, inviting and loving, but they’ll gladly compete against you and try and push you to be better. So, when you have people who are willing to turn it on and off for practice it’s really valuable. I found three guys who would do that for me.”

McWard and Martin ran on the team with Miller throughout their first three years of high school, but decided to focus on other sports their senior year. Sheely, though, is still on the team with Miller.

“Because of cross country, I always had to be up early Saturday mornings,” Miller said. “So, going to Friday Night Lights was not an option for the last three years because I need my sleep. But, at the end of last year, Sr. Salas (Spanish teacher and Student Council adviser) asked me if I wanted to be a spirit leader. So now, to be on the field and experience FNL, it’s a nice step up from not doing anything to helping lead chants and even rushing the field.”

His last home game as spirit leader will be tonight, Nov. 10, at Children’s Health Stadium for the first playoff game against Plano East football.

“I’ve never had an issue with being in front of people,” Miller said. “I’ve always been in theater, plays, musicals and choirs.  I remember when I was like five, I performed magic tricks for my family during Christmas. I’ve always kind of loved performing.”

Miller’s love of performing and willingness to try new things guided his athletic journey and role as spirit leader, as well as his music career.

“I got into music kind of randomly,” Miller said. “My mom had wanted my two older siblings to be in music, but they refused. When I was 10, I still don’t understand why, but I wanted to learn the trumpet. After about a year and a half of trumpet, I stumbled upon the piano. I loved the music director who was at my school and I was like, ‘you know, I kind of want to try it because he plays it well.’ ”

Miller now performs piano at restaurants. He plays at Lover’s Seafood and Market on Monday nights, and the Cowboy Club at the Star on Thursday nights.

I had a coach come up to me the first day and say, “You want to be state champions?” and I said, ‘I would like to’ and she said, ‘Well then just do what I ask.'”

— Max Miller, senior

“So then I just started playing when I was 12,” Miller said. “I moved around a lot, which kind of ended up being a blessing in disguise. Even though the stress of finding new teachers is tough, I was exposed to a lot of different people who like to teach in different ways.”

Miller’s moves between states brought him new learning experiences and perspectives. He discovered his love for music extended into other cultures.

“When I was in first grade, I was living in California,” Miller said. “In the California educational system, you start Spanish really early compared to Texas. So thankfully, I got exposed to Spanish at a young age. Then, I moved to Philadelphia, and thankfully, it was the same there. I had phenomenal teachers there. They kept me going, and because of them, I grew my confidence in the language, and also an appreciation for the Latin culture – both music and playing and just culture-wise.”

This year, he is the Vice President of the Spanish Honor Society.

Now that the fall cross country season is coming to an end, and there is an in-between before spring track season to spend more time on his other extracurriculars, he takes a moment to reflect on his achievements for his last high school cross country season and what he learned.

“I started the season at Warren Park and it took the course record and school record in the two mile,” Miller said. “And then, the following week was our main season opener in the 5k, because that’s our usual race distance. I put up the number one time in the nation.”

Miller ran the 3.0609-mile race in 14 minutes and 26 seconds.

“Unfortunately it didn’t count as a 5k because a 5k is 3.125 miles,” Miller said. “But it still propelled me into the national news scene in the running world. Now, I’m on watch lists on different databases, which is quite awesome because I didn’t have any of that last year.”

Max sets high standards for himself. Over the last four years, Max has done everything right from the training to his nutrition, sleep and recovery. He’s a very smart kid. He’s approached running very smart and that’s what has made him successful.”

— Jackie Crisp, coach

Miller made the front cover of a Mile Split article highlighting his “surprising” performance at the Southlake #1 XC invite.

“I kind of came out of the blue,” Miller said. “The main running database, who always shows up at big races was there, and I know the guy and he said, ‘I’m mad at you. I didn’t know you were gonna race like that; you could’ve given me a heads up.’ And I was like, ‘Well, you know, I kind of like to keep it a surprise.’ I think that’s how they actually ended up writing it in the article about me from that race that it surprised everybody out there.”

Miller said he knew his capabilities as he put in the work during practice, but he went into the races performing without any expectations.

“I don’t ever approach anything with the idea that I’m going to be successful,” Miller said. “I only do things if I enjoy them to some extent.”

Miller plans to continue running, keep performing, and remain curious in college, where he hopes to double major in music and business.

“So that’s what I preach now to our underclassmen – just do what’s asked of you,” Miller said. “With no expectations and just a flat-out plan, I think it just fell into place for me.”

Interviews by Riley McConnell and writing by Kaya Miller.

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About the Contributors
Kaya Miller
Kaya Miller, Co-Editor-in-Chief
Kaya Miller, originally from Los Angeles, California, moved to Prosper, Texas in 2017. She attends Prosper High School as a senior. This is her third year on staff, and she is co-editor-in-chief of Eagle Nation Online and editor-in-chief of the print newspaper Eagle Nation Times. Miller is on the Prosper debate team as historian. She is also president of the Spanish Honor Society. Miller is also on the Dallas Rowing Club Juniors team. In her free time, she enjoys baking and playing guitar.
Riley McConnell
Riley McConnell, Chief Operating Officer
Riley McConnell is a senior at Prosper High School and is the Chief Operating Officer for Eagle Nation Online. This is her third year on staff and is involved in the Football Operations Department, an organization she is a founding member of. She is also the head photographer for the school's baseball team, alongside pursuing her personal photography career.
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