Eagle Alumni Spotlight: Laura Miller

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Miller was first capped as an Eagles in the 2011 Nations Cup against South Africa and continued to play for the Women’s Eagles until 2016. Today, she remains in the rugby landscape as the head coach of the men’s and women’s varsity rugby program at Alderson Broaddus University.

Learn more about Laura:

Q: When and where did you play rugby?
A: I started playing rugby in 2003 when I was a freshman in high school in South Bend, IN. In the US I’ve played for the Washington DC Furies and the Glendale Raptors. Abroad I had the opportunity to play for the London Saracens as well as the University of Western Australia.

Q: When did you play with the Eagles?
A: I attended my first US camp in 2010 and was capped with the Eagles in the 2011 Nations Cup against South Africa. I was a part of the national team pool until I stopped playing in 2016. I was also a College All-American in 2010 and 2011.

Q: What is your favorite rugby memory?
A: It seems impossible to pick just one. One of the best experiences I had was being a part of the MARFU women’s all-star program from 2011-2013. During this time, I saw the program move to tier 1 competition in the old NASC format. The best experience of this team was our semifinal game against the Northeast in 2012 in which we won an improbable victory in the last minutes of the game. We were the underdogs going in and looking back, that team was full of athletes who went on to play for the US. Seeing the program develop and improve over several years was incredibly impactful for me.

Q: Where are you now?
A: Today I live in Philippi, WV and am the head coach of the men’s and women’s varsity rugby program at Alderson Broaddus University. At AB I have the exciting opportunity to build the program from scratch. So far we’ve had incredible support from the university which includes rugby scholarship opportunities. We plan to kick off our men’s program in NSCRO 7’s this spring, 2019 and launch our women’s program in NSCRO in fall 2019.

Q: What do you believe is the most important factor in growing the sport of rugby in the US?
A: The most important factor in growing the game is our ability to bridge the gap between our love for the game and rugby’s commercial value. Despite what we might feel, living in our rugby bubbles, the majority of the country knows little about our sport. While rugby, in my experience, has always been a welcoming community, it has not always done the best job of communicating its value. As a college coach, my job is to be an ambassador of my sport to my university and an ambassador of my university to the rugby community. It is clear that small colleges around the country are learning the value of rugby within their institutions and that the value of our sport goes far beyond enrollment or social media following. The more we communicate how valuable our sport is, the more it will grow.

Q: What is a piece of advice you would give to aspiring rugby players?
A: Whatever your goal is, go out and get it. In my experience as a coach and athlete, I have seen many athletes wait around for the call of the college coach or the US selector. Those who are successful in this sport put themselves in the best position to be successful. Do not wait for the coach to call you; send them an email. Do not wait for your coach to drag you to the all-star tryout; plan and get yourself there. I have never once regretted taking the initiative in this sport whether or not the outcome was as I’d hoped.