By Riley Holcraft, Staff Writer–
Molli Miller is a goalie for the UTC Girls’ Soccer team who has been diagnosed with a serious autoimmune disease. However, the limitations brought by the illness do not stop Miller from being the best she athlete, student, and teammate she can be.
On January 21, 2016, Miller awoke with the inability to speak or walk. Her entire body was in immense pain, and she had a fever of 103. Since that initial hospitalization, she has visited many specialists and other hospitals. Eventually, Miller had to withdrawal from school due to her health, and after three and a half years of looking for a diagnosis, doctors still remain puzzled.
“Some days I cannot walk and other days I am able to train and be a normal division one collegiate athlete,” Miller further explains her condition. Her immune system acts against her body by attacking the healthy parts rather than diseases and bacteria.
Although Miller deals with much more than any college student should have to, she still remains a positive leader of the soccer team at UTC. Her teammates respect, love, and encourage her daily.
Miller talks about the impact of having the team as a support system, “I have had them cook for me, drive me places, and just spend time with me when I cannot leave my room. They have helped me fight and push through this tough season.”
Miller can wake up some days feeling fine and ready to take the field while other days she is in unbearable pain. “It is just a day by day thing that we have to play by ear,” she comments.
Her fluctuating condition, however, does not make her any less of an asset to the UTC Girls Soccer Team. She travels with the team, cheers from the sidelines, and has even been able to participate in games since her diagnosis.
Watching from the bench can prove difficult for Miller since she has worked so hard for her success as an athlete. However, she has a positive attitude about the structure of a team. She knows her role is vital and victories include the teamwork from the sidelines.
Miller not only remains involved with the team she loves, but is also set to graduate at the end of the Fall 2019 semester. She is a senior majoring in child and family studies with a minor in psychology.
“I love my major and the education I have received here,” Miller says in reflection of her time at UTC. Her community at the University and on the soccer team has given her hope and determination for the future.
“I have learned that there is more to life than soccer,” Miller explains, “They always say it can be gone in a second and I had to experience that. One day I was a division one collegiate soccer player and the next day I was being carried to the bathroom because my legs didn’t work.”
She has endured the anxiety of the unknown disease that cost her months of depression, but Miller now focuses on what she has gained from the whole experience. The soccer team has gifted her relationships that are permanent and important, and the disease has given her undying determination to win the fight.
Even on the days she does not want to wake up and get out of bed, Miller faces her opponent with the same grit and aggression she would on the field. “I kept the same mindset that I would have in training or games into regaining my health,” she further explains, “I hate losing and I do not plan to lose the battle to this unknown disease.”