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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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The family that plays together

Chris Miller has followed in his siblings’ footsteps of athletic prowess at Freeman High School

Steve Christilaw Correspondent

The Miller family has contributed a great deal to the Freeman High School athletic legacy.

The four children of Kevin and Rose Miller, from eldest daughter Alisha (class of 2002), eldest son Dustin (2004), daughter Jennesa (2007) and youngest son Chris (2009), have helped the Scotties win state championships (state boys track), earned Most Valuable Player honors (Alisha, Northeast A League softball, 2002), and more than a dozen all-league honors in a range of sports.

Each played three sports throughout the majority of their prep careers.

“Actually, it’s been pretty cool to be the youngest in the family,” Chris Miller said. “I’ve learned a lot from my brother and sisters. I’m proud of what they’ve accomplished.”

A fire marshal with the Spokane Valley Fire Department, Kevin Miller set a high standard for physical fitness in his family.

“Being a fireman, he had to keep himself in pretty good shape,” his youngest son said. “Being a fire marshal now he’s kind of let himself go, but when I look back at pictures, he may have looked pretty skinny, like me, but he was pretty buff underneath.”

Whether it was board games together, backyard pick-up games or organized sports, the Miller kids grew up ready and willing to play whatever game was in season.

“We’ve always been pretty competitive,” Chris said. “We grew up playing sports together.”

Alisha Miller earned four varsity letters in softball at Freeman as well as two each in volleyball and basketball. She played collegiate softball as a shortstop at Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho.

Dustin earned three letters in boys track and, pending the state baseball playoffs his little brother is playing in, is the only sibling to have played on a state championship team, helping the Scotties to their only boys track title his junior year. He also picked up a varsity letter for football and two more for cross country.

The most decorated athlete of the four, Jennesa was a four-year letter-winner in both volleyball and track and added three more in basketball. She earned all-league honors seven times. She helped the Scotties earn a pair of state basketball tournament trophies, including a second-place trophy as a sophomore. She was selected for all-state basketball honors as a senior and was twice selected for all-state honors in volleyball. In addition she earned academic all-league honors three times.

Chris is preparing to pitch today as the Scotties continue their march in the state Class 1A baseball tournament – a sport in which he is a four-year letter winner as an all-league outfielder and pitcher. In addition, he’s a three-year letter winner in both football and basketball. He has one last high school football game in which to play after being named to the East roster for the Class 2A-1A-B Earl Barden All-Star Game June 27 at Yakima’s Zaepfel Stadium.

“I think my best memory has been running out on the field to play Royal in the playoffs,” he said. “They’ve knocked us out of the playoffs four times now and I know we’re going to beat them. We almost did this time – it was a closer game than we’ve had with them before. This time we lost, 32-27.”

Through it all, he said, the family has been there in the stands, pulling for one another.

“There were some times, mostly in the spring, when we couldn’t always be there for a track meet because we were busy playing baseball or softball somewhere else,” Chris said. “But it was just what we did. I can tell you that, this year, I don’t think my dad has missed a single one of my games.

“To be honest, I don’t know what he’s going to do next year without having anyone’s game to go to. Maybe he’ll still go out of habit.”

Then again, maybe not.

“My wife Rose and I are going to finally have Friday nights to ourselves!” Kevin Miller said in an e-mail.

Not that there aren’t a few games left to follow.

Jennesa is preparing for her junior basketball season at Corban College in Salem, Ore. She averaged more than 5 points per game as a freshman and started all but three of the Warriors games as a sophomore, averaging 10.9 points and 4.2 rebounds per game.

Chris said he plans to hang up his cleats for good after playing in the all-state game.

“I’m going to go to Spokane Falls and work on my associate of arts degree, then I think I’m going to join the Marines,” he said. “My brother is doing that now and I am very, very proud of him and what he’s doing. I want to do that, too.”

Contact Steve Christilaw by e-mail at schristilaw@msn.com.
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