Vitals: Whitney Miller, 38, is a resident of Roscoe. Miller has been a coach for the Gymnastics Academy of Rockford for the past 10 years. This year, her team dominated the United States Trampoline & Tumbling Association’s (USTA) National Championships in Springfield, Ill., where they won the overall 2010 National Championship. They took home first place overall as a team, along with 11 team awards, 29 individual national champions and 54 total individual medals. Miller was named the USTA 2010 Coach of the Year.
1. What factors led to your team’s success at the USTA National Championships? I have had the privilege of being able to work with a strong coaching staff, supportive parents, and athletes that possess an incredible work ethic. When you put all of those factors into play, you have the recipe for success. My love for the sport is only surpassed by my love of being able to work with young athletes. It is more important for me to help young people grow into strong adults who will become positive, influential leaders in our community rather than world champions. Luckily, the two seem to go hand-in-hand. Winning 11 team national titles is a testament to our strength and cohesiveness as a team. Being a part of something bigger than yourself is a wonderful memory for anyone to have. I am truly blessed to have been a part of it.
2. How does it feel to be a national champion as a tumbler and coach? When I won the World Championships in 1986, it was one of the greatest moments in my life outside of the birth of my two children. I was the best in the world at what I did, and with that came an enormous sense of self-accomplishment. As for being recognized for my coaching, I am greatly honored to have been named 2010 Coach of the Year. To be recognized for my coaching abilities at the national level is an amazing feeling. It shows how hard my athletes work, not only on an individual level, but on a team level as well. To be able to bring home 29 individual national titles is an unbelievable feeling for me. Above all else, I am very proud of all of my kids; they all did their best, and that is all anyone can ask for. They truly are my second family, and I am thankful for the opportunity to be able to work with such a fantastic group of athletes.
3. How did your previous success and experience influence your team? My past success within the sport gave me a unique roadmap to utilize on the training of my athletes. By being a past national and world champion, I am able to understand their challenges from a personal point of view, which helps me in guiding my athletes through their individual challenges safely and confidently.
4. What advice would you give to a young person interested in tumbling? I began tumbling at the age of 12, and was the world champion by age 16. Age isn’t the determining factor in success, it’s the effort inside the individual that counts. You can do anything you set your mind to in life, and I want all of my athletes to leave our program believing they truly can do anything in life! My advice is that anyone interested in tumbling or trampoline call us at (815) 654-3867 or visit www.gartumblingteam.com for a free evaluation. We will do our very best to find the perfect match for you. It is a great program for kids of all ages and ability levels.
5. Question from last week’s “This week in The Times” participant, Anna Mulvany: How do you plan on building upon the success you achieved this year? We will continue to have fun growing and learning, always remembering that it’s the effort inside that counts, and that anything worth having isn’t handed to you: it’s earned.
“This week in The Times” is a weekly survey of people selected by The Rock River Times staff. The column does not accept unsolicited submissions.
From the July 7-13, 2010 issue