STEUBENVILLE - If you asked Elizabeth Miller a while back about college, Butler University was nowhere on her list.
That was a while back.
With some prodding by a few people, including Catholic Central High School Assistant Principal and Senior Guidance Counselor Delores Michnowicz, Miller and her mother Shirley did some checking into the Indianapolis-based university and made a trip out there in early March.
OFF TO?BUTLER — Catholic Central senior Elizabeth Miller, with her mother Shirley Miller, and Principal Rich Wilinski and Athletic Director Steve Daley, has signed to continue her academic and athletic careers at Butler University, where she will major in biology and biomedical enginerring and be a member of the women’s swim team.
"I originally applied just to see," said Miller. "I ended up really liking it when I visited. I didn't expect to, but I did. It exceeded my expectations.
"I liked the academics and the swim team coach (Maurice Stewart). It seemed like everything fit for me."
Miller has signed to continue her academic and athletic careers at Butler University, where she will be a member of the swim team and double major in biology and, in conjuction with Purdue University on a dual-degree program, biomedical engineering.
Miller, who said she would like to take those degrees into the medical research field, was coming to terms with the realization that her swimming career would end at the state meet in her Catholic Central uniform.
"When I was finishing up (her senior season) I realized that I could not stop, I didn't want to be done yet," she said. "That made the decision that I really wanted to swim when I got to college."
Other than using mom, also her swim coach, as the barometer, Miller enlisted the help of her "outside" swim coach, Bob Miller (no relation) to talk to Stewart.
"I think we have to credit Bob for her passion to swim. He gets a lot of the credit," said Shirley Miller. "When mom's the coach, you don't want to go talk to the college coach. It was Bob that we put coach Stewart in touch with and we let Bob tell coach Stewart his recommendation of her as a swimmer.
"He could give an accurate picture of who she is as a swimmer. We wanted it totally objective. I really think he had something to do with this, as well. He knows her best. He's been coaching her for 10 years."
Stewart had extensive collegiate and USA Swimming club experience prior to arriving at Butler. He served as an assistant coach at Auburn for two seasons. During that time the Tigers won the men's NCAA Championships in 2004 and 2005, while the women's team won the national championship title in 2004.
Prior to arriving at Auburn, Stewart was the head coach at the Sugar Creek Swim Club in St. Louis for four years, where he coached several sectional and junior national level athletes.
Miller has been attracted to water ever since mom can remember and she has parlayed that passion, along with a lot of hard work, into what appears will be a special college experience.
Miller was timed in 5:17.06 in the district finals in the 500 free and 2:18.6 in the 200 IM. Those times would have been Nos. 2 and 3, respectively, on the Butler swim team this season.
She made it to the state meet in the 500 free her junior and senior years.
"You have to know how to pace yourself in that race," she said. "You need to know when to go out fast, you have to know how you feel and you have to be able to bring it home in the end.
"I can tell if I am doing well by how I feel."
Miller, admittedly more of a freestyler, may also swim the 400IM in college, along with the 500 and maybe the 1,000 and 1,650.
"That's not my best event (200IM), but I liked it. It was a nice change of pace," she said. "I trained freestyle all season. Coach Stewart said I have a decent time (in the 200IM) for not training. He wants to see what I would do if I actually trained for the race.
"He also knows and understands how important academics are. I know it is going to be tough, but hopefully I'll be able to manage both."
Miller is looking at morning swim practices around 6 a.m., school and late afternoon swim practices.
"She's been doing this for so long," said Shirley Miller. "She's no stranger to this routine. She knows 'I have to get my work done if I want to go out the door to swim practice.' It's been that was since she was a little girl. That's always been the policy. She's superb in managing her time."
Elizabeth Miller agreed.
"I actually think my grades are worse when I'm not swimming," she admitted. "I can't wait to get started in college."
Miller knows she didn't reach this point without help.
"I'd like to thank my mom, my swim coach, my parents, my family, my friends, my teachers and, mostly, my swim coach, Bob, who's been my coach forever," she said. "I also want to thank Mrs. Michnowicz. She's helped me a lot this year. I also want to thank Mr. (Rich) Wilinski and Mr. (Steve) Daley, Mrs. (Jude) Lucas.
"I just want to thank everybody who has helped me get to this point."