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NWBA Athlete of the Week - Desi Miller

11/11/2015, 9:00pm CST
By NWBA

Weekly Installment featuring men's and women's Team USA players

The NWBA is excited to provide an Athlete of the Week feature on the website. The weekly installment will feature men’s and women’s Team USA players providing you a look deeper as to who our national team players are. 

Leading off the features are players who contributed to the gold-medal success at the 2015 Parapan Am Games in Toronto, Canada, and in January the focus will shift to those athletes invited to the Rio 2016 Paralympics Selection Camps and go into the 2016 Paralympics. 

Check back often to learn more about the superstars of wheelchair basketball. 

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Desiree Miller, a co-captain of the gold-medal winning 2015 U.S. Parapan Am Games team, is the headliner to kick off the NWBA Athlete of the Week. Miller and her 2015 teammates are finalists for the Paralympic Team of the Year award, presented by Dow. The U.S. women’s wheelchair basketball team defeated reigning world champion Canada, 80-72, and outscored its opponents by an average of 55 points per game. By its win, Team USA also qualified for the Rio 2016 Paralympics.

Be sure to vote for Desiree and her teammates at www.teamusa.org/awards.  Voting is live through Nov. 20.  The winner will be announced on Dec. 10.

Name:         Desiree Miller (aka Desi)
Height:         5’4”
Classification:     3.5
Date of Birth:     Aug. 12, 1987
Place of Birth:     Kirkland, Wash.
Hometown:         Monroe, Wash.
Residence:         Whitewater, Wisc.
High School:     Monroe High School, Monroe, Wash.
College:         University of Alabama, Graduated 2010 with a degree in English with a minor in Creative Writing
Graduate School: University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Graduated 2014 with a Masters in Counseling

Paralympic Games Experience: 4th place at 2012 Paralympic Games

Career Highlights:     2015, 2011, 2007 Parapan Am Games, Gold medal
            2011 U25 World Championship, gold medal, MVP
            2010 IWBF World Championship, gold medal
            All-American, Academic All-American-2012

Personal Background:
Eugene and Denise Miller are her parents and she is the oldest of four children. Her siblings are: Darcie, Deidra and Zack.  Desi is married to Mareike Miller (Adermann), who is a member of the German Wheelchair Basketball Team. 

Hobbies: Reading and music

Q&A with Desi:
NWBA:  Who is your hero?
Desi:  All of my family members are my heroes.  They each have so many different talents and gifts that I look up to.  They all bring so much to me.

NWBA:  When did you start playing wheelchair basketball? 
Desi:  I was 17.  I started playing with the Junior Sonic team through the Seattle Adaptive Sports program.  I met a girl who was newly injured and got to come to a practice and immediately loved it.  I only played about six months of Junior basketball before being recruited and receiving a scholarship to play wheelchair basketball at the college level. 

NWBA:  Did you play any other sports? Did you receive any awards from other sports?
Desi:  I hadn’t really played any other sports.  I attended some summer golf camps and raced quads and motorcycles when I was younger.  I didn’t think I could play sports.  My outlets were art, music and writing.

NWBA:  Do you play or have you ever played on a overseas wheelchair basketball team?
Desi:  Yes, one season in Hamburg, Germany.  It was a blast. It was a great experience.  I wanted to come back to the States before heading to Rio.  Training here is top notch.  I settled in Wisconsin.  It’s like family here.

NWBA:  What is your profession?
Desi:  I am currently helping coach the Whitewater Women’s team
I am playing on the NWBA Championship Division men’s team, the Bucks and with the newly formed Women’s team: the Lady Bucks.

I applied for a Paralympic and Olympic Hopeful program and through that was hired part time to work with Dicks Sporting Goods.  I am helping spread awareness for the sport and the Paralympics in general.

NWBA:  Are you active on Social Networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.), and where can we follow you?
Desi:  I created an athlete page on Facebook- Desiree Miller- athlete.

NWBA:  Do you have any pre-game rituals or superstitions?
Desi:  Since the Parapans, I go into games with the same ritual. Music is crucial for me.  I take time to get away from the team and be by myself.   I do a breathing routine.  I go through a mental check list.  I imagine how the game will be, the ebbs and flows.  I do my breathing technique again and then I warm up. Our team psychologist emphasized the importance of getting into the right mental state before the game.  This routine has been working for me since the Parapans.

NWBA:  What is your favorite basketball moment and why? 
Desi:  A recent favorite basketball moment was from this past summer at the Parapans:
It was the gold medal game against Canada.  It was the third period.  I had a little bit of a run.  At the baseline I got the ball.  I was fouled by a Canadian player.  I clenched my fist like in a “Yes” motion as I was fading backwards.   I looked back at my team on the bench and my coach.  I made the free throws after that.  You could feel the energy leave Canada.

Canada battled hard throwing punches and we kept throwing punches. They are the World Champions and this was their third straight time losing to us at the Parapans.  It was a stepping stone for our squad. 

NWBA:  Why do you play wheelchair basketball? 
Desi:  For me personally I play for the other 11 girls I am with.  I haven’t been that competitive. I play for the relationship I have with my team, the journey I share with them. Sports in itself isn’t enough for me.  The moment that I share with those girls, that’s what keeps me going.  They are my extended family.  That’s why individual sports aren’t for me.  I get to share it with so many other strong, amazing, fantastic women. I adore the team we had in Toronto.  It was one of the best Parapans.

NWBA:  Do you follow NBA or College Basketball, or any other teams?  If so, which are your favorite teams?  
Desi:  I follow the Oklahoma Thunder because they used to be the Seattle Sonics and I love Kevin Durant.

NWBA:  Are you married? 
Desi: Yes, I am married to Mareike Miller (Adermann). She is on the German National Wheelchair Basketball team.  She was on the gold medal German team at the London Paralympics.  She was instrumental in the team winning the gold.  I believe she was a top scorer.  She is incredible.  She currently works for the Wisconsin Adaptive Sports Association as Basketball Director and Marketing Manager and she is coaching the Junior Bucks.

NWBA:  Do you have pets? 
Desi:  No pets. I would love a dog but don’t have enough time to be able to take care of it.  I am a huge animal lover.

NWBA:  What is it like being Co-captain with Darlene?
Desi:  Darlene and I balance each other out really well. I am really laid back and Darlene is really organized.  She makes sure to remember birthdays, graduations, and important occasions.  She makes sure that we take care of a girl if she needs help with something.  She gets that kind of stuff set up.  I am a pretty open person - so is Darlene.  People feel comfortable to come to me off court.  I like spending time with everybody.  I have been Co-captain with Darlene since World Championships in 2014.

NWBA:  What is your current goal? 
Desi: I am training very seriously and very hard to earn a spot on the team that will represent the U.S. at the Paralympics in Rio in 2016.

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