Nicole Miller of Hanover, a freshman and swimmer at Archbishop Williams High School, Braintree, was honored with a First Place essay award at the Massachusetts Celebration of National Girls and Women in Sport Day on May 15 at Gillette Stadium.
“We are very honored that Nicole was selected as a first place winner,” said Gordie McClay, AWHS Athletic Director who attended the ceremony with Miller. “Nicole is an exemplary athlete. As we emphasize at Archbishop Williams, she is a student first and an athlete second. Nicole exemplifies just that.”
Miller was one of two students from a pool of more than 100 candidates statewide to receive a First Place award at the ceremony sponsored by the Mass. Interscholastic Athletic Association and billed as a “formal but fun event celebrating girls' and women's participation in competitive sports.”
Joining Miller at the event were senior star athletes, basketball player Asiah Dingle of Stoughton and hockey player Kim Dunn of Quincy, who were invited to attend the event on the recommendation of the school. “They were selected by the administration of Archbishop Williams as leaders who exemplify the qualities of sportsmanship, dedication, and academics,” said McClay.
In her essay, which was read at the event and printed in the day’s program, Miller noted her pride as the only girl on an all-boys baseball team when she was a youngster, and how her experience as a swimmer, starting at age nine, gave her the confidence “to pursue my desire to be a leader.” She noted her special admiration for her role model, swim coach Bernie Dickman of the South Shore YMCA Strypers, who as a rare woman coach in a field of mostly men, inspired Miller to coach the summer team.
Her essay also focused on coping with anxiety as a competitive athlete, and how she overcame it with the help of parents, coaches and teammates “who were always there to support me.” To help other athletes who may experience anxiety, Miller wants to serve as a mentor “now and in the future so that they can have support and overcome their difficulties” as she did.
“Playing a sport has been one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever been given, and anxiety almost made me give it up,” Miller said in her essay. “I don’t want others to feel that way and give up on what they love, so I plan to be a leader for them.”
Miller, who arrived at AWHS as a grade 7 student, is a member of the AWHS swim team under Coach Joe Lally. “He’s a great coach,” Miller said. “He’s very supportive of us in all that we do!”