CHICORA, Pa. (EYT/D9) — On Rossi McMillen’s right elbow is “track burn,” a rather unpleasant looking patch of scraped skin caused by a nasty tumble over a hurdle.
It’s by far not the only bump, bruise or blemish McMillen has suffered this school year.
(Above photo by Holly Mead)
When you play four sports over three sports seasons, your body takes a beating.
But McMillen doesn’t mind the rigors of playing sports non-stop. The Karns City senior relishes it.
“I just find it fun to excel and win games and championships,” McMillen said. “You get to work hard and build skills that you never had.”
McMillen has been a standout in every sport she has played.
On the soccer pitch this fall as a goalkeeper, she helped Karns City to a District 9 Class 2A championship. In the title game against Clearfield, McMillen made a staggering 31 saves in the 3-2 overtime victory.
McMillen said that in all her years of playing sports, she had never entered performed at that kind of level before.
“I was focused on nothing else,” McMillen said. “I remember just like zoning out and just watching the ball, making sure it wasn’t going in the back of the net.”
McMillen had many strong games at keeper for the Gremlins, and in the rare times she was asked to play in the field, she excelled there, too.
But it’s the intangibles that Karns City girls soccer coach Tracy Dailey said made McMillen such a huge part of the Gremlins’ success during the four years McMillen was on the pitch.
“Her hard work, determination, and dedication to her team and to herself is what makes her a tremendous athlete and leader,” Dailey said. “She leads by example and is a great role model for all student athletes.”
On the basketball court, McMillen was a key cog on a young team that got better as the season went on.
By March, McMillen was hitting key baskets, pulling down clutch rebounds and playing solid defense in helping Karns City reach the D9 Class 2A quarterfinals.
McMillen scored nine points in the fourth quarter of that quarterfinal game against Redbank Valley, nearly willing the gritty Gremlins to an upset.
McMillen drew the praise of Karns City girls basketball coach Steve Andreassi.
“She always plays her guts out. She plays with heart,” Andreassi said. “She has never, ever backed off. I have never coached a person, boy or girl, who played as hard as her on both ends of the court all the time. She never stops. She didn’t want to come out at the end of the game. I wanted to get her an ovation from the crowd for her career, and she said she wanted to play to the end of the game. That tells a story about her right there.”
This spring, McMillen is doing double duty, roaming center field for the softball team and running the hurdles, 400-meter relay, and doing the high jump for the Karns City girls track and field team.
She hit her first career home run earlier this season and is batting .345 with a homer, three doubles, a triple and 10 RBI out of the seventh spot in Karns City’s loaded lineup.
The demands of softball have limited McMillen’s practice time on the track. At times it has cost her in the hurdles.
She tripped over the final hurdle in a meet against Redbank and took a hard spill.
“I hadn’t practiced hurdles for a week because I was so busy with softball,” McMillen said. “And I face-planted.”
McMillen carves out as much time as she can to get in her reps on the track and in the high jump.
It’s not always easy — there’s only so much time in a day.
Despite her busy schedule, McMillen is still posting excellent times and heights.
McMillen has cleared 5 feet, 1 inch in the high jump, anchors the 400 relay team that has posted a time of 52.39 seconds and has high hopes for District 9 and PIAA glory, and has a best time of 17.10 in the 100 hurdles.
“Our hope is our 4×1 progresses even better,” McMillen said. “We went to the Butler Invitational and placed seventh. That’s the first time we’ve ever placed at the Butler invite. I think we have a chance to get to states and do well as long as we work hard enough.”
Working hard has never been a problem for McMillen. She said she toyed with the idea of playing volleyball in the fall as well as soccer, but there were just too many conflicts between the two sports.
A five-sport star? She wanted to try it.
Perhaps her biggest strength is her ability to endear herself to her teammates and coaches. She’s soft-spoken, but as Karns City coach Mike Stitt said, she has a dry wit and a disarming sense of humor.
“The best thing I like to do is ask Rossi about her day,” Stitt said. “She’ll be like, ‘Oh, Mike, let me tell you about my day.’ She’s just fun and energetic. We’d like to talk more to her because she’s just a fun person you want to be around.
“She’s a good athlete — she runs like a deer in center field,” Stitt added. “She’s a person you want to have around.”
McMillen, though, won’t be around for much longer and her days playing sports are numbered.
She plans on attending Clarion University next year. She said as of right now she won’t play a sport at the next level.
“This is going to be the last time I play,” McMillen said. “So I want to make the most of it.”