Former Merrimack women's basketball standout Casey Miller (Fairbanks, Alaska), took her playing career overseas after graduating in May of 2010.
The former Warrior just finished her second season at the University of Oviedo of the National Division, or third division, of the Spanish Women's Basketball League. During the season, Miller resides in Oviedo, Spain which is the Northern state of Asturias and during the summer she travels back to her hometown of Fairbanks, Alaska.
"I always knew I wanted to continue playing basketball," Miller reflected. "When I got to Merrimack, my coach was very supportive of me for the four years I was there, and she wanted to help me get an opportunity to play professionally. It's something I love to do and loving it makes everything a lot easier."
Playing professionally in the United States is very limited for women once their college careers come to an end. With the help of the Merrimack coaching staff, Miller got in contact with the Oviedo head coach and signed her first professional contract in July of 2010, leaving for her first season in September.
Once arriving in Spain, Miller encountered something that no practice could have prepared her for, hearing basketball drills in Spanish. Miller's head coach spoke no English and a majority of her teammates spoke little or no English as well.
"In the beginning, the most difficult part of my job was communication," stated Miller. "No one on my team spoke English, nor did the coaches. I was forced to become fluent in Spanish, but I am very grateful for that!!!"
As part of her Spanish contract Miller had to coach a local girl's team of 9-11 year olds, none of which spoke English. Learning Spanish was a must not only for her playing career but for her coaching career as well.
"I forced myself to hang out with teammates who spoke Spanish and they would take the time to correct me if I spoke incorrectly," she recalled.
Playing basketball was the easiest part of the adjustment for the former Warrior as she averaged 17.0 points and three assists in her first season of professional basketball before suffering her first career major injury, a torn meniscus in her right knee.
Rehabbing over the summer at home in Alaska allowed her to return to Spain for her second season with the team, which just concluded. Miller averaged 15 points, four rebounds and three assists in her second season.
"All of my teammates loved all of the gear that I received while playing for Merrimack," said Miller. "By the end of my two seasons there I gave just about everyone on my team something with Merrimack on it, so my Alma Mater is represented well in Spain."
Coming from Merrimack helped Miller in her future endeavors in a new country being surrounded by new people.
"Merrimack is a community oriented school, and it helped me learn how to branch out and interact with people who appreciate who you are, and what you do," stated Miller. "I was the only American on my team both years, and really enjoyed sharing our cultural and athletic differences."
Miller, the first-ever Alaskan born student-athlete at Merrimack, finished her college career as the sixth leading scorer in the history of the women's basketball program with 1,240 points and first all-time in career three point field goals with 187. She also received Northeast-10 All-Academic team accolades as a junior during the 2008-09 season.
Are you a Merrimack alum with an interesting or unique career and want to share your story? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.