It’s been a year of change for Miranda McMillan.
With three years as a forward on the women’s hockey team under her belt, a blueline shortage prompted new head coach Sean Fraser to move Ms. McMillan to defence. Her contributions to the team haven’t dwindled—with 1 goal and 7 assists, she’s ranked third on the team in points—but it hasn’t been without a few challenges.
“It is a lot of ice time,” says the fourth-year math major, originally from Truro, Nova Scotia. “I work really hard at it. I worked out all summer, every day almost, and you work really hard in practice. Our coach really prepares us really well in practice – he skates us when we need to be skated, and he keeps the practices really intense.”
And the coach has glowing things to say about her in return.
“It’s been a very positive change,” says Coach Fraser. “She’s done a great job on the back end for us. She’s had every bit as much as an impact as she did as a forward.”
Ms. McMillan is as committed to her studies as she is to her team: on Wednesday, she received a TD Insurance Melloch Monnex Leadership Award for being the female student-athlete who, having completed her third year, had the highest cumulative GPA.
When asked about how she manages her coursework alongside an intense practice and game schedule, she says it’s about making sure everything gets the time it needs.
“In high school I was the same way—always making time for my studies—but I’ve definitely gotten better through university because it’s such a heavy workload. You’re at the rink for three hours every day, so you have to find time to do your schoolwork, whether it’s really late at night or you have to get up early in the morning and do a little work before class.”
Among her list of academic accomplishments, she received a renewable Chancellor’s Scholarship in 2008 and has been on the Dean’s List every year at Dalhousie. And she’s now a three-time CIS Academic All-Canadian.
And alongside her studies, she’s also been a canvasser for the Arthritis Society and has coached at Hockey Nova Scotia development weekends in years past. On the ice, she received the most improved player award from the women’s team for the 2009-10 season.
A team ready to 'click'
She says that this year’s team is still finding its footing—after two losses on the road this past weekend, its record is 3-8—but she’s confident about the prospects for the second half of the season.
“From what we were at the beginning of the season to what we are now, it’s a completely different team. I think we just haven’t found that ‘click’ yet that we need to be successful, and I think once we do, we’re going to be untouchable and unstoppable. And I think a lot of the [other] AUS teams know that.”
She’s not quite sure what her plans are after graduation next year—though a fifth year with the team is certainly an option—but she knows that what she’ll remember most about her Dal hockey experience is sharing it with her teammates.
“Playing a varsity, sport, you get a different university experience than most students, and I take that to heart. All the different teams I’ve played on, and all the girls that I’ve met – we become a family every year. The experience of being on that team and so close to everyone... I’ll never forget it.”
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