I hope Jonathan Donville — the Cornell lacrosse player who just went #1 in the 2021 National Lacrosse League (NLL) Entry Draft — will not object to sharing column space with a guy who plays Division III lacrosse (at St. John Fisher) and was drafted in the fourth round, but the fact that Nick Miller is an Ithaca born-and-bred player and a 2017 graduate of Ithaca High School makes his story a compelling one.
Donville is the second Big Red player to be the first draft pick in the last two years, as Jeff Teat heard his name called first last year. It comes as a surprise to no one that Teat has gone on to light up the board as a pro player (for the New York Riptide), and has in fact been mentioned in many MVP conversations.
I caught up with Nick Miller (who is the son of ICSD grad, teacher and coach Dan Miller and Susie McDaniel Miller) who was just drafted by the Buffalo Bandits of the NLL, and he said “I watched the first two rounds of the draft, and after that I followed it on an app. When my name came up, I was surprised and I was really happy that it was Buffalo.”
Had it not been for the pandemic, Nick would have wrapped up his college career in 2021, but he is using his final year of eligibilty while pursuing his MBA. After graduating, he said, “I'll learn the next step, which will likely be to go to one of their training camps and fight for a spot.” As for a pro team drafting a college student with a year of eligibility, Nick explained that “Technically, it means that they have my naming rights for two years, and how it goes will depend on how I do in training camp.”
Miller said, “I have followed the college careers of some of the players on Buffalo's roster, and it's crazy that I'll be able to compete with those guys.”
Asked if he will change anything about his approach to the game, Miller offered, “Frank Welch, (Nick's high school coach) and Coach Dobbins (his college coach) have both taught that you have to be able to find the next gear.” Clarifying that any player can find that next gear early in a game, but only the best-conditioned athletes can sustain it, Nick added, “You have to be able to push yourself in the fourth quarter and overtime, and that's what I'll be working on.”
Nick stated that he is very grateful to many of the players who have — like him — played for Ithaca High's highly-respected program and, in Miller's words, “paved the way.” He added, “Guys like Riley and Eli Lasda, Paolo Ciferri, Jayden Henderson, Austin Romantic, AJ and Adam Fiori — they have really set the ground rules, so to speak, by modeling a great work ethic. It's an honor to have gone through the Ithaca High program, and I am proud to say that I am one of those guys.”
After a year hiatus, the 44th Tompkins County Sports Council Football Luncheon series will begin on Sept. 16. I have been to many of these events, and it really is a lot of fun to get an inside look at the local football teams. The weekly luncheons will get underway at 11:45 a.m. for nine Thursdays at the former Country Club of Ithaca (now called RaNic Golf Club), and the cost is $135 for the nine luncheons, with Oct. 21 serving as a "bye" week to gear up for the season's stretch run.
Clarence Welch of Ithaca High School, Dan Swanstrom of Ithaca College and Dave Archer of Cornell University will discuss the previous week's games, and give a scouting report on the future opponent, and football coaches at other Tompkins County high schools will make guest appearances throughout the fall. Various winter sport coaches will also make guest visits.
The Tompkins County Sports Council is a not-for-profit organization. All money available at the end of the fall season, after expenses, goes to the high school football programs in Tompkins County.
To purchase tickets, contact Dave Wohlhueter by phone at (607) 273-5891 or by email at email@example.com. Tickets may also be purchased the day of the luncheons for $20 per person at the door.