If you only know Indiana University East junior Kristen Miller as the speedy sparkplug on the Red Wolf women's basketball team, you only know part of the story.
She's also a track and field triple jump conference champion. She's a cadet in the IUPD Cadet Officer Program. She's an honor student on course to graduate with a double major and a double minor.
"There are times I need to sit back and take a breather," Miller (Ottawa, Ohio/Ottawa-Glandorf High School) said during a rare free moment. "But everything I'm doing is something I love, and it's easy for me to work really hard for that. I want to work hard, not only for my teams, but for myself and my future. I know whatever I go through now is going to pay off, no matter how stressful it is. I try to keep that in back of mind and stay motivated in that way."
Miller recently became the second member of the IU East women’s basketball program’s 1,000 points club. Miller is averaging 12.4 points per game to help the Red Wolves to a 14-4 record and the No. 21 ranking in the national polls through the first half of the season.
"I'm really proud of Kristen for reaching this milestone," IU East women’s basketball coach Tiffani Selhorst said after Miller scored her 1,000th career point during a game against Huntington University in late December. "It means a lot since we came from the same high school (Ottawa-Glandorf High School). For her to become someone who will forever be in our record books is humbling and exciting to see"
Miller found the motivation to join the IU East track and field squad this past spring immediately after completing a basketball season in which she helped the Red Wolves to a 22-11 record and the program’s first appearance in the NAIA Division II Women's Basketball National Championship.
Miller had not competed in track and field since middle school, but she proved a natural in the jumping and sprinting events.
"People seemed to think of me as fast for some reason," Miller said.
(Memo to Kristen: your 104 steals and lockdown defense during the first two years of your college basketball career were a couple of the reasons.)
"But that's where it all began. (IU East track and field coach David) Sanders asked if I would want to join the team for outdoor track and field, and I said, 'Why not. Let's give it a try.' And I fell in love with it. It never hurts for me to run more to get my speed ready for basketball season. Mentally, it's something different for me besides basketball, to get to focus on something else I enjoy."
Miller proceeded to set IU East track and field school records in the indoor and outdoor triple jump as well as the outdoor long jump. She earned league "Newcomer of the Year" honors after winning the triple jump and placing in three other events at the conference meet.
"Kristen, no matter what she decides to do, will probably be successful at it," says Sanders, who also did the basketball/track and field double during his IU East playing days. "Coming into last spring, I had no idea what to expect out of Kristen. I knew she played basketball and was pretty quick, but I know first-hand that basketball speed and track speed are two different things. When she first came out for track and field, we were trying different things out, seeing where she would have the most success. It turned out to be long jump and triple jump.
"When she first started (long jump and triple jump) it wasn't pretty by any means, but she worked on it every day and was determined to be the best that she can be. The results speak for themselves."
Miller added yet another line to her already-impressive resume this year. She was one of two IU East students selected for the elite IUPD Cadet Officer Program for the 2016-17 school year. She will spend this school year training alongside IUPD-East officers. She will have the opportunity to attend law enforcement academy at the Indiana University campus in Bloomington this summer.
"I am very proud of what Kristen has accomplished on the court and in the classroom," said IUPD-East Chief Scott Dunning. "Her hard work and dedication is what IUPD looks for in their cadets and officers."
By participating in the program, cadets have a competitive edge by gaining professional experience. Police cadets are eligible to attend the IUPD Basic Academy, a 14-week program held each summer, if they show an aptitude for police work and maintain a GPA of at least 2.3 or higher. Cadets in the academy receive complete law enforcement training required by the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy. Once the program is successfully completed, the cadets become certified law enforcement officers with full police authority in the state of Indiana.
After graduating from the academy, the students return to work as part-time officers at IU East while completing their academic degree program.
Miller undoubtedly will excel at the academy.
"When I came to college, my long-term goal was to be in the FBI," said Miller, who is a double major in accounting and psychology with minors in financial forensic Investigations and criminal justice. "The fact that I will be an IUPD officer my senior year of college, that's incredible. It's too hard to pass that up. It's definitely out of my personality because I've never been in uniform before, and it is a change, but it's good."