As a member of a third and fourth grade basketball travel team, Veronica Miller never set foot on the court during a game.
“I didn’t play at all,” Miller said. “I figured if I went to enough practices, and kept trying, I’d get better.”
Miller did get better - much better.
She ended her four year Yosemite High varsity career as the school’s second all-time rebounder (854), behind Sydnee Fipps (1,054), and ahead of Katie Menton (754). She scored a total of 892 points in her career placing her No. 7 all-time, and her 355 points in a season is No. 8 all-time. She scored a game high 26 points and is tied for No. 1 for rebounds in a single game with 20. Miller’s four years playing varsity at Yosemite High for Coach Gary Blate were very productive, and she played a big role on those teams that won sole or shared league championships in three of her four seasons.
Miller’s hard work and dedication to the game paid off Monday, April 25, as she made her official commitment to continue her basketball career playing for the UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs.
Miller said that she got on a team with girls her own age as a fifth grader and her skills began to form.
“Without older girls on the team, I was forced to live up to more expectations,” Miller said. “Mattaya (YHS teammate Mattaya Brown) and I spent the year with me playing defense and rebounding and then passing her the ball up the court so she could score fast break points.”
Miller also had a couple Yosemite High players to look up to while she was growing up.
“I was really young when Katie Menton was playing so when I watched her play it was like watching a super hero,” Miller said. “I went to Yosemite games and knew that I wanted to try and be that successful someday. When Sydnee Fipps was playing, I was old enough to actually see the affect she had on the game and understood how good she really was. I went to their home Central Section playoff game when I was in the seventh grade, and watched them come back from being down by 12 with less than two minutes to go, and saw them pull together as a team with Fipps as the lead. Watching that kind of success inspired me to aim for my team to accomplish those things.”
Miller has fond memories of her four years in the Yosemite High basketball program.
“My sophomore year, we had the opportunity to go to Orlando Florida for the Disney World Tournament,” Miller said. “To this day it is one of the best trips I’ve ever taken. Being able to fly across the country and go to Disney World and Universal Studios with 11 of my best friends was incredible. Not to mention we placed second in our division.”
Miller said Coach Gary Blate gave her many incredible opportunities in her four years playing for him.
“Coach Blate’s the kind of guy that if you do what he asks, he’ll have your back ... he’s made my high school experience the best it possibly could be and gave me tons of opportunities that I never would have had without him ... and I am forever grateful for that.”
“Veronica has been a leader in one way or another for her entire Yosemite career,” Blate said. “She worked on her game and steadily improved and always tried to make her team better. I’m very happy and proud that she will continue to play in college.”
Miller will become the 18th Badger player to go on to play in college in Blate’s 13 years as coach.
UC Santa Cruz plays in NCAA D-III as an independent team that has gotten very competitive under Coach Todd Kent. The team was 18-7 this year, but is loosing six players to graduation.
“That many seniors leaving the team will provide me with a good opportunity to get playing time as a freshman,” Miller said. “It’s a beautiful campus, not too far away and I’m really excited about joining the team. After being a Yosemite High Badger for four years, I just wanted to continue to play and I’m looking forward to the experience at UC Santa Cruz.”