Since he was four-years-old, Owen Miller has been examining his options, weighing one strategy against another, considering the timing of his execution and readying his alternative maneuver, if things didn’t go according to plan. He is a wrestler, and a very good one. As I get to know him a little better, two things become eminently clear to me: 1) hard work and humility are at the core of his value system and, 2) he will make everyone around him better.
Finding a Way:
As we converse ourselves into the substance of our interview— a process designed to curate the clearest 500-word story of Owen I can find— he’s acknowledging and recognizing the people in his life who’ve enabled him to reach a little higher, work a little harder. I’m asking about him, but he’s telling me about the strength of the Vandalia Junior Wrestling Program, and about his coaches, about his teammates, about his family, his younger brother, even his competitors on the mat. And then it hits me, this is him. He amplifies the importance of the roles that others play in his life.
Owen is a smart kid with a bright future, and while wrestling may appear to have defined his athletic career, he’s no one-trick pony, athletically or otherwise. He plays middle-infield in baseball and he’s an outstanding scholar with an eye on either the University of Illinois or Illinois State after he graduates with the class of ’23. Growing up as the oldest son in a third-generation family construction business has enabled him to harvest lots of life lessons, and to chart a future for which he has prepared well. He’s practical, too, telling me that as he considers college, he’s not particularly hung up on taking his athletics with him, preferring instead to focus on either engineering or something in the medical field.
If Owen had his druthers, he would one day make his home in Wyoming. An avid outdoorsman, he’d love to be able to hunt Elk and enjoy the mountain wilderness. Wherever his life adventure may take him, Owen is Vandalia, through and through. And in typical Owen Miller form, he credits any success he’s had to the community that raised him, saying, “It’s really one big family. This whole community comes together, and I’ve really benefited from that.”
Before we wrap up our interview, I ask him one final question: If you could share words of wisdom with your 8th-grade self from where you sit today, what would you tell him? “Well,” he says, “I’m kind of a perfectionist, and I struggle with it, so I’d tell my younger self, don’t be so hard on yourself, don’t fear failure, and to just find a way over, around, or through whatever challenges you may face.” Coming from a guy who is wise beyond his years, and who’s been doing exactly that since he was four, that’s some advice all of our 8th-grade selves could have probably used.