Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania is incredibly small in comparison to the city of Philadelphia. The cities are roughly four and a half hours from each other or around 280 miles. Located in one of the nicest areas in Philadelphia lies Chestnut Hill College, a Roman Catholic institution with around 1,400 undergraduate students. The school competes at the Division II level, and Punxsutawney native Leah Miller is one of the brightest athletes currently at the school.
(Photos courtesy Chestnut Hill Athletics.)
Miller was a 2018 graduate of Punxsutawney Area High School, and with the Chucks, she was a part of some incredible basketball teams. Four times she helped the Lady Chucks to a District 9 title in class AAAA and three times a District 9 League title. In addition to the team’s success, Miller recorded over 1,000 points and rebounds in her 3-year varsity career.
She was not heavily involved in the travel basketball circuit, but her life was changed when she filled in for the Clarion Rising Stars. At one of the tournaments she played in, one college took a special interest in her – Chestnut Hill. After a visit, she was set on continuing her career there. Going to Chestnut Hill allowed Miller to play right away in her first season in addition to experiencing and playing up-tempo basketball and life as she preferred to do.
Her strengths on the court include her constant energy and peskiness on the glass. She embraced playing with one of the all-time greats at Chestnut Hill, Jaeda Wildgoose. Wildgoose was the go-to center, so this was an adjustment on the court for Miller. Despite the challenges, Miller learned a lot from her, and it has helped her make improvements to her game that are visible on the stat sheet.
In two seasons with the Griffins, she has started in 41 games and recorded 479 points and 398 rebounds. She is on pace to become a 1,000 point scorer again in college, but her third college season will have to wait. COVID-19 has forced Miller to accept a redshirt for this school year, but she has turned it into a positive by utilizing her extra time to develop strength and take additional business classes while still at Chestnut Hill.
Though she is an exercise science major, she has an interest in business and marketing as well.
“Exercise science made sense because I want to stay involved in sport, and I’ll always be an athlete at heart, but business and working with people is something that will always make my ears perk up,” said Miller. “There’s a lot of junk out there, and I think the world needs more people shedding light on it.”
While business and exercise science are both great fields, Miller has her eyes set on continuing her playing career for as long as she can. She has begun some research into playing professionally in Europe, which would also allow her to fuel her love for culture and city life. One program she is most interested in would allow her to play professionally while also gaining valuable leadership opportunities while overseas in Europe. It would be an avenue to allow her to continue playing while also working with others.
Although her outstanding play is evident, Miller did not have a specific accolade or moment that she listed as her most impressive.
“What I have accomplished opens my mind to continue to strive for more,” said Miller. “I am always going to give it my all to achieve the best that I can. My favorite memories are the people I’ve met and the relationships I built through sports. I owe sports for introducing me to the friends that I have today and the opportunities I’ll gain tomorrow.”
The former Lady Chuck was also quick to thank her family for their support along the way.
“110 percent of my success has to do with good genetics and my family helping to show me how to overcome adversity,” said Miller, who is the youngest of five children and has four brothers.
She was also quick to mention Mike Carlson and Brad Constantino as incredible high school coaches who motivated her to do her best when she was a high school student-athlete.
“They were the bugs in my ear to push me to do my best,” said Miller. Their passion and energy is great for the community and is a huge reason for their success as coaches.”
Although Miller was destined for college basketball, she was also an accomplished volleyball player and jumper in high school. She won a total of nine varsity letters between three sports and even placed seventh at states in high jump as a senior. She was recruited to play college volleyball as well, but her heart belonged to basketball.
“I have different feelings about each sport,” she explained. “I still love volleyball, but it never gave the exact same excitement that basketball can give me.”
In the end, Leah Miller is a young woman who is determined to be the best version of herself she can be. She is passionate about helping others and growing the game of basketball. Punxsutawney maybe her hometown, but the city life has been something she has embraced since embarking on this journey in August of 2018. With two college seasons left, Leah Miller has unfinished business. She will be ready to pick up where she left off and continue to strive to better both her future and the lives of the people she helps through basketball, business, and health.