Gymnast Miller finishes Gateway career strong
By: Michael Love
Friday, June 8, 2018 | 11:40 PM
Olivia Miller knew she would be a gymnast at Pitt since she gave a verbal commitment to the Panthers program as a sophomore at Gateway.
The recent Gators graduate now is on the cusp of her collegiate career. She heads to Pitt in 10 days to get settled in and start training for her first season, which begins in January.
It's a transition from her time in high school and a successful club gymnastics career that has Miller excited and ready for what lies ahead.
“I can't wait to finally join the team at Pitt,” said Miller who graduated as co-salutatorian with a 4.37 GPA.
“I've known the team members for a while now, and I am really excited to be a part of the team aspect.”
Miller capped her club career this spring with a run in the USA Gymnastics national meet May 13 in Cincinnati.
At nationals, she placed 10th overall out of 56 competitors in the Level 10 classification with an individual 10th in the all-around and 11th on the uneven bars.
“It was great to be able to enjoy myself in my final club season,” Miller said. “Even though it was my last couple of competitions, I wasn't too nervous. I just wanted to go out there, have fun and enjoy these last few meets before college.”
Her run to nationals began with wins in the uneven bars and floor exercise and a third in the all-around at the Pennsylvania championships in March at David L. Lawrence Convention Center.
Miller then took fifth at the Region 7 meet in Washington, D.C. to punch her ticket to nationals. The top seven in Level 10 advanced.
“Olivia didn't have her best regional meet, but she took it in stride and was able to qualify,” said Ryan Schulz, Miller's trainer at her home facility of Gymkhana in Monroeville.
Miller's regional performance included a runner-up on the balance beam and a sixth on bars.
“She was really able to stay focused,” Schulz said.
“As a senior, she was coming to the end of the year with senior-type activities and was also looking forward to graduation. She handled all the pressures of her final club meets and competed to her full ability in a positive way.
“She really savored the experience at nationals. She competed well and had a lot of fun. She used the fact that it was her last club meet to her advantage.”
Miller progressed through her final club season dealing with the pain and discomfort of a torn shoulder labrum suffered in the fall.
The decision was made to not have surgery and opt for physical therapy as she continued to compete. She adjusted her workouts with new techniques.
“It took some time to adapt to the injury through my training and in competition,” Miller said. “Once I hit February and March, things worked out pretty well with staying strong and healthy.”
Schulz said Miller's experience in the sport and determination to succeed carried her through the challenging season.
“We had to do a lot of monitoring and tailor her workouts so she could compete the whole season,” Schulz said. “She was really mature with the way she handled her rehab. She was smart about the days she felt she needed to modify her workouts to take care of her shoulder.”
Miller was no stranger to injury. Last year, her run to nationals was cut short when she broke her thumb during a training session between the state and regional competitions.
She was sixth at regionals in 2016 and qualified for nationals.
“The Pitt team doctor will continue to monitor the shoulder over the next couple of months,” Miller said.
In addition to her individual performances at nationals, she was part of the Region 7 team — made up of competitors from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, Delaware and the District of Columbia — that bested seven other regions to take the Level 10 team title.
“Our Region 7 team at nationals was such a strong group of girls. We worked so well together and helped push each other to do our best. We kind of all got that last team experience before we go on to college gymnastics.”
Miller's routines at nationals and at other events can be viewed on her YouTube channel by searching “Olivia Miller Gymnastics.”
With Miller's move to Pitt, she will not have an all-the-time presence at Gymkhana. But Schulz said her accomplishments will continue to be felt by all who train at the facility.
“(The other gymnasts) have grown up with her and have seen the work she's put in and how she has overcome adversity to succeed,” Schulz said. “Hopefully, she can excel quickly at Pitt and they can go to meets and watch her perform. It will help give them some perspective and goals to achieve.”
Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .