At Northwestern University, goalkeeper Tyler Miller capped one of the most decorated careers in Wildcats history by leading the Big Ten in goals and shutouts and being named 2014 Big Ten Goalkeeper of the Year.
But he was just getting warmed up.
Miller was considered one of the top goalkeeping prospects in this year’s MLS draft class. In January, the Seattle Sounders drafted the 6-foot-4 senior in the second round of the MLS SuperDraft but Miller had other plans and elected to sign with German club SVN Zweibrücken of Regionalliga Sudwest through the 2015 season.
Miller is earning some serious frequent flyer miles after being named one of two keepers called up to the U-23 Men’s National Team camp.
As a youth player with NJ Youth Soccer, he earned a spot on the Olympic Development Program (ODP) where he played for six years, from age 13 to 18.Tyler sat down with us to talk about his past and his future.
How did you get started playing soccer?
Sports have always been a major part of my family. Growing up, my older brothers were both heavily involved in a numerous sports—baseball, tennis, basketball, and soccer—so it was pretty much predetermined that I would also be involved in sports. As the youngest, I would always have to travel to my brothers’ sporting events, but without question, my favorite sport to watch them play was soccer. I was heavily influenced by both of my brothers. My oldest brother, Jason, played goalkeeper, so I think I followed in his footsteps in terms of the position I play. My other brother, Kyle, played high level soccer and went on to also play in college. I have always looked up to him trying to learn from his competitive nature and exemplify his determination while I play.
What are some hard lessons you’ve learned from the game?
Things are not always going to go your way. You might be having your best game and make all the plays you are supposed to make, but there is a lot of luck that goes into this game.
However, it’s important not to get too down on yourself, and just keep working hard. Eventually, your hard work will pay off. At the same time, it’s important not to get too high after a win. You have to remain level headed and continue to work hard.
Who is your favorite soccer player? Why?
I’ve never really had a favorite soccer player. I really just enjoy watching, especially the world-class goalkeepers. There are players that I really enjoy watching because of their style of play like Manuel Neuer, Joe Hart, and Iker Casillas. Then, there are also players, like Gigi Buffon and Tim Krul, who I enjoy watching because I feel they have a more traditional style of goalkeeping from whom I can benefit from by studying how they play.
What is your favorite pre-game/post-game meal?
Pregame, I enjoy eating pasta a few hours before then have a banana before we head out for the warm-ups. After, I’ll eat something with a lot of protein to help with recovery. Usually I go with chicken, but it all depends on what I have ready when I get home.
How would your coach describe you as a player?
A determined individual who will give you everything he has to offer. Also, a good leader who sets an example through his work ethic. Finally and most importantly, a good person.
How does community service and soccer play a role in your life?
While I was at Northwestern, we held many camps for young players in the area. It was always great to see them come out and play. After, they would come up asking for autographs. I enjoy this type of community service because I can remember when I was younger I would always be hanging around my older brothers’ teams looking up to them, and they would allow me to play with them. So giving back to younger kids who love soccer just as much as I do is really special to me; I love helping younger kids try to achieve everything they desire in soccer.
What is a character attribute you have that has contributed to your personal success?
I would say determination and humility have contributed the most to my personal success. I never played at a big academy in New Jersey, but instead went through club soccer and the ODP system in order to earn a scholarship to Northwestern. From there I was determined to help my team achieve as much as we could in the four years I was there. I simply kept working to become the best I could be and let the rest take care of itself.
What advice would you give to someone who is interested or has just started playing organized youth soccer?
The most important thing to do is have fun, and play as many positions that you can. When I first started playing, I wanted to be a forward and score a bunch of goals. However, as I got older, I soon realized I hated running, and that’s when I tried playing goalkeeper. I still remember the first time I ever played goalkeeper− I didn’t have to make any saves, but I got to punt the ball once, and I thought that was the coolest thing. Immediately after that game, I knew I wanted to become a professional goalkeeper.
Visit NJYouthSoccer.com to learn more about the organization’s recreation, travel, Olympic Development (ODP) and community service programs.