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Getting to Know Gretchen Miller
Courtesy: Duke Sports Information
Release: 08/17/2010
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Photo Courtesy: Duke Photography
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I like my position best because... Centerback & forward.  At centerback, I am in control of what is going on in front of me (which is basically everything).  I have the luxury of being able to see things develop and I play a critical role in helping others to be in the right positions to make the right play.  I take great pride in being the voice of reason on the field.  I am in constant communication with my teammates as I think it makes a huge difference to know what is going on around you and feel confident in your teammates.  I also enjoy centerback because it gives me an opportunity to be a play-maker.  This fall though I may be playing some forward, which I am also thrilled about because it gives me the opportunity to play instinctually and have freedom to create and finish, something I have always loved.

The best place I have ever traveled to play soccer is... Japan. Firstly, it was the best place because I was travelling with the U-16 GNT and was representing the USA.  Also, it was my first time outside the country, other than Canada, and to be playing as a member of the  US National Team was a dream come true.  We played in the southern part of Japan during our 13 days there at a beautiful complex, surrounded by the Pacific Ocean.  It was an unbelievable experience  and one I will never forget.

My first goal I ever scored was... This is really tough, because I was so young and do not remember a specific "first" goal.  However, it likely came at age 4 when I was playing in the YMCA league with the U-6 boys.  My dad tells this funny story best, but apparently I was a ferocious on the indoor basketball courts that we played soccer on, and oftentimes resorted to biting my dad when the games were finished if I wanted to play more.

Over the summer, I worked on the following to improve my game... I spent the summer interning at the Nike WHQ in Beaverton, Ore.  I spent many days after work shooting on the two international fields on campus.  I had cones that I brought out with me, so I would set the cones up in a  variety of ways, and go at them, and then shoot on goal.  Basically, I was focused on the repetition and getting solid strikes on goal with placement being critical.  I would typically put my iPod on and just shoot over and over.  Throughout the summer, I had various employees walk by and offer to play in goal, or shag a few balls for me.  That was really cool and something I always appreciated.

My favorite professional soccer team is... Manchester United because of its rich tradition in the life of soccer.

I love the World Cup because... It showcases the beauty of the game, especially to the US, who is clearly not a soccer feverish nation by any stretch of the imagination (yet!).  Also, it puts the game on a platform, and helps show Americans why the rest of the world is in love with the game.  I also love the WC because the level of play is so high and the players are the very best, and we see some extraordinary things done by these athletes. It really is inspiring to watch.

My best shot ever was... Before my freshman year at Duke.  I was playing on my W-League team back at home during the summer.  I think we were playing the team from Hamilton, Ontario on our home field in the middle of downtown.  I was about 30ish yards out and a ball was played across the field to me (I was on the right hand side).  I had a good look at the goal, so I took a chance and hit a right footed half volley.  It went straight into the top left hand corner, the goalie had no chance.  It was very similar to Bronckhorst of the Netherlands 35 yard blast in the WC semis victory over Uruguay - hahaha.

My favorite sport outside soccer is...I really like almost all sports, but if I had to choose I would say my favorite to do is skiing outside of soccer and my favorite to watch is definitely college basketball.

My favorite story about Coach Church was... This is really hard to choose, because there are a lot of good ones about RC.  However, I would have to say my favorite Robbie story is from the Carolina game last season.  We had gone down 2-1 late in the second half so he pulled basically the entire defense in an attempt to get more numbers forward and score.  KayAnne scored a goal in the last few minutes of the game and all I remember is everyone freaking out on the sideline. Next thing I know RC is running full speed at Maddy Haller and I flailing his arms.  He is unable to form sentences between celebratory fist pumps and jumping in the air.  All he is able to do is chase us both to the sideline to get us back in the game.  We both look frantically to Billy for who exactly we are subbing in for.  The next day we watched the game film and it was even funnier in slow motion.  Robbie's reaction was truly unbelievable and hysterical.  We watched it at least 15 times and at the end of the year it was on our highlight reel of the entire season.

The person who has had the biggest influence on my soccer career is... I would have to say both my parents.  In their own way, they were both essential to my success as a soccer player.  Since the age of four, my dad trained me on our own in the basement of our house, in the backyard, at the local park, at the high school fields, and anywhere else he saw fit.  He has worked with in some form through present day. When I was younger we really hit heads, but it was his patience and belief in my abilities that helped me reach the highest levels I could.  My mom was also so critical to my success because she drove me everywhere and was my rock through it all.  She saw me through the success and memorable moments, and was my shoulder to cry on after  disappointing losses and bumps in the road.  We traveled up and down the East Coast for eight years and spent precious moments together. Together, my mom and dad believed in me more than I believed in myself, and it was their commitment to my passion that helped me reach my goals in soccer.

The professional soccer player's game I could best compare my game to is... Marta.  This answer comes from Jane Alukonis as I had to ask her because I could not think of anyone myself.  So if you want to know why she said that, she's who you need to talk to.

My pre-game superstitions or rituals are... Well, there are quite a few that usually involve other teammates.  Firstly, the rituals usually start the night before.  I always paint my nails the night before the game - it just is something I started doing last year, and has caught on and now I do it for every game.  The day of the game, I usually eat some pretty basic meals depending on the time of the game, nothing too heavy, but substantial enough to provide me with the necessary energy to perform.  I typically arrive pretty early to the locker room, so I can take my time getting ready.  I always have music blaring throughout the day, whether it be in my car, or at my apartment, or on my Bose headphones.  My teammates always give me a hard time, because I  like to listen to my music really loud, especially in pregame, so oftentimes, whatever I am listening to, the people next to me get treated to as well. I always wear the same pair of under socks, and only wear them on game day.  Our team also writes things on our arms in sharpie, so I always write the same thing throughout the entire season.  When we walk out to the field, I always walk at the very back with the same people.  Once on the field, I try to make sure I give every player on our team a high five or word of encouragement in the warm up.  Lastly, and probably the most important ritual are the handshakes that come right before the game.  I have a basic one I do with Fitz, that usually involves some fist pound, a hug, and some important private words.  The last thing I do is "The Handshake" with Carey and Marybeth.  It has become more and more involved each year, and has been the source of much critique by various members of the team and coaching staff.  It really is a site to see.  On the field, we gather into a huddle right before kickoff and say a few basic things before breaking apart to start the game.  I know this sounds like a lot, but it really is not.  It adds to the allure of the game day experience.

My favorite athlete outside of soccer is...Lance Armstrong.  He is probably one of the best athletes ever, and his story is such an incredible one of perseverance, faith, and will power.  Furthermore, the way he is using his success and stardom as a platform to promote the fight against cancer, I believe is truly heroic.  I have read basically every book about him and find great inspiration in his story and life.

If I could travel anywhere in the world, it would be... Home.  We always joke in my family that I am always leaving.  It has seemed that over the last several years, I have always been the one to be traveling or leaving to go somewhere.  Whenever I am home, it always is perfect in every way.  So while there are so many places around the world I want to one day travel to, right now if I could get on a plane and go anywhere, it would be home.

My hobbies outside of soccer are... I really enjoy going to the mall, even if I do not buy anything. I just enjoy walking around and clearing my mind.  I also love almost every sport out there, so any opportunity to participate in another sport or even watch one, is something I enjoy.  Lastly, I also really enjoy listening to music and jamming out.  I love how you go to a different place and get lost in the music.

My best talent other than playing soccer is... Definitely either my singing or dancing abilities, or maybe both. HAHA, not really, but I wish.  I would have to say my best talent other than soccer is my athleticism.  I can on average pick up any ball, stick, bat, and play the sport pretty well and pick it up very fast.  A perfect example of this is skiing, I have never taken a lesson in my life, yet I can ski about any hill fairly well.

My favorite food is... Puppy Chow, aka Muddy Buddies.  They are the Rice Chex Cereal covered with melted chocolate and butterscotch morsels, all rolled in confectioner’s sugar.  I know, sounds real healthy, right?!

My favorite cartoon is... I am not really a cartoon person, but if I had to pick one, I would say Toy Story.  Is that even a cartoon though?

If I could star on a reality television show, it would be... While I love reality TV and watch it pretty religiously, I don't know that I would ever want to be on a show.  I am actually pretty sure I would  turn down the chance if it were offered to me to be on one of the shows. Sorry MTV.

A weird fact not many people might not know about me is... I own a pair of Heely’s that I occasionally sport around campus.  Yes, they make adult sizes.

My secret addiction is... Palmer's Cocoa Butter (chap stick).  There is nothing secret about it, but I cannot go a day without it and take it everywhere I go.  It looks like a glue stick, so people are always asking me about it.  It is a good icebreaker.

If I could appear on the cover of any magazine, it would be... Sports Illustrated.  I think this is the true test of an athletes greatness, because it takes years of consistent high level performance and success to be rewarded with the cover of SI - not just any athlete will grace the cover of SI.

If I could spend three hours doing anything, it would be... Hiking in Filmore Glen.  We always went there at least once a summer growing up, and it was the most beautiful, serene place.  It was approximately three miles to the top and took about five hours round trip to walk.  We would walk in a wading creek/river the whole way up and it is a place of many wonderful memories for my family.  I cannot wait to go back when I am home.

The weirdest noise I can make is... I cannot make any weird noises, except when I am chewing gum, when I have a tendency to smack it really loud, to get the flavor out of the gum...ask Fitz about that one.

My current ring tone is... I never have my phone on ringer, so I am not really sure what it would sound like.  Probably some generic ringer though.  I usually keep my phone on silent or vibrate, as I think ringtones are annoying.  Because of this, I oftentimes miss phone calls, something my friends have become accustomed to.

My favorite web site to visit is... another really tough question. Obviously Facebook is a top site, but so is Twitter. A bunch of us on the team have twitter accounts, so that is always very entertaining. I also regularly check out US Soccer's website and read their blogs about their Men's and Women's National teams. As of late, I have gotten more into blogging myself, and have created my own, along with reading some of my friend’s sites.

My nickname is... I HAVE A LOT OF NICKNAMES.  Some include, G, G.Mills, G. Milli, Gretzky, Zach, G Money, Millertime, Gretch, GM, etc. The list goes on and on.

My can't miss television show is... I have a few...The Hills, the City, Gilmore Girls, Sex and the City, Jersey Shore, Real Housewives of NY, NJ, OC, DC.

My favorite movie is... Either The Holiday or Chevy Chase's Christmas Vacation.  I am always up for a movie though.

My go to meal I can cook is... Living on my own two summers in a row has required me to become efficient in the kitchen, so I can cook a lot of things.  However, I would say my go to meal is: chicken, asparagus, and sweet potatoes.  I can whip up all three pretty quickly and while it is a healthy meal, it is also delicious.

I started playing soccer at age... 4.  My dad got me into it because apparently I had so much energy and would not stop running around the house that my parents had to get me doing something which would tire me out.  So I was forced to play, haha.

My favorite class I have taken at Duke so far is... Building Winning Teams.  It was a military science class I took my Junior Fall with two of my teammates, Fitz, and Kendall.  It was a leadership class that was focused on arming us with tactics and tools to lead both ourselves and others.  There were 14 students in the class, all but one were athletes on the various sports teams at Duke.  There were also about 10 coaches in the class representing their teams.  It was hands down the best classroom experience I have ever had in my life. We spent 2.5 hours together every Monday night challenging each other to learn and grow in our leadership abilities.  Lead by our teacher, Lt. Col, Mark Tribus, we all saw massive growth in many areas and I left that semester feeling a better, stronger person motivated to change the world.  I will always be incredibly grateful for that opportunity to learn in such a dynamic and sensational setting.

What I like best about Coach Church is... How much he cares about not only our success on the field, but our success off the field.  He takes great pride in what we do on the field and how we perform, as well as in the classroom, and in our daily lives.  It has always been refreshing to see how much of a priority he puts on us being well-rounded, talented individuals.  I have no doubt that he would do anything to help any of us at anytime.  This has been evident since he recruited me and I am confident it will continue to be this way the rest of my life.

Duke is the best place to play collegiate soccer because... It is one of the, if not the best Universities in the country for academics and athletics.  I have had the full experience and been challenged both on the playing field and in the classroom.  Not many people can say that.  Plus, Duke brings the best of the best from around the world, and as a result I have had the opportunity to grow my scope and become a more well rounded individual.  Duke honestly in my humble opinion is one of the greatest places in the world.