Kari Miller

USA Paralympic Sitting Volleyball Player

Acheived Status

Kari Miller was born in1977 in Newark, NJ and grew up in Washington D.C. Her parents were Nathaniel Peterson and Mary Lanuze, both were very good athletes and competitors. Miller has one brother named Michael who is six years younger. She graduated from Cardozo High School while particiating in basketball and track. After graduating she enlisted in the military due to not having the resouces to provide for college. Miller worked as a transportation management cooridinator for the Army where she served for nine years and spent time in Korea, Bosina and Europe. Her dream was to go to officier canditate school so Miller took classes at Montgomery College to earn credits. In December of 1999 she reached the required number of credits, a celebration was in order.



During one early morning in December of 1999 Kari and some of her friends were driving to IHOP and were struck by a drunken driver going 80 mph. The driver of the car died instantly but Kari survived but lost both her legs with one being amputated above the knee and the other below. When she awoke in the hospital she could not speak but motioned for a pencil and wrote on a piece of paper "I know I don't have my legs. Don't be sad. I'll be OK."Little did she know that a new journey was about to begin.



With losing both her legs she did not sulk around she competed in wheelchair basketball before discovering sitting volleyball. She has trained with the U.S. Women's Sitting Team at the University of Central Oklahoma. She has acheived many things some include becoming an American Paralympic volleyballist while earning 10 medals (5 gold, 4 silver, 1 bronze).

Kari Miller - 2013 USAA Athletic Inspiration Award Nominee

Values and Beliefs

Mary Lanauze was 15 years old when she gave birth to Kari both grew a sister-like bond which would carry thorugh the rest of there lives. That strong bond with her mother became something she vauled stongerly. Kari also valued her education, when it became time to graduate from high school Kari knew she didn't have the resoucres to get her to college she decided to elist in the military where her ancestors have been. Ever since being in the Military, Kari has given back to by helping others especially wounded veterans by showing them how sports can help them overcome trauma. She currently is the ambassador for the U.S. Paralympic Military and Veteran Program.
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Sitting Volleyball

Sitting volleyball is a subculture of regular or standing volleyball. Most of the rules in standing volleyball are the same as the rules in sitting volleyball but the playing surface is a little different. The game is played with a six person team but the net is lower about 3.5 feet high. Instead of the court being 9x18 meters the courts is smaller, 6x10 meters. The court is smaller to accommodate players who scoot or slide across the court to serve, volley, spike or slam the ball down, and block the offensive team's hits. The major rule in sitting volleyball is that an athlete may only hit or serve if one "cheek" is touching the floor. The first team to 25 point with a 2 point advantage wins the set; the first team to win three sets wins the match. The result of sitting volleyball is a game that is as physical and much faster than the standing volleyball game. Sitting volleyball is open to athletes with disabilities such as amputation, cerebral palsy, spinal cord injury, and stroke. There are no athlete classifications by disability.
Sitting Volleyball at the London 2012 Paralympic Games

Socialization

After Kari's accident it was truly very hard for her to make the transition to using prosthetic legs, she fell multiple times. She admitted that she had plenty of bad days but looked to her mother for strength who told her "You need to go through all that you feel. If you need to be sad, be sad. If you need to be angry, be angry. If you need to cry, cry." Her confidence was building and she stated, “Being disabled only means that you have to find another way of doing all the things that you want to do.” And that she did. She got introduced to adaptive sports and began doing normal thing again. She began rock climbing, horseback riding, and going to the beach.


But along the way Kari has overcome diversity. When she was first introduced to wheelchair basketball she didn't make the cut because she was too short and could not block 6 foot 4 players. This failure did not stop her, one of her teammates asked her if she considered playing sitting volleyball. She gave it a try and did not make the cut either but the coach told her she was very athletic. So she decided to continue her training at the University of Central Oklahoma.

London Paralympic Games

With the Paralympic Games being in London IPC President Sir Philip Craven described London 2012 as "the greatest Paralympic Games ever." The games itself had a significant impact on British society. About eight out of ten (81%) British adults thought the Paralympics had a positive impact on the way people with an impairment are viewed by the public. 1 in 3 UK adults changed their attitude towards people with an impairment(Paralympic.org). The London games brought in unprecedented media coverage with the games being broadcasted over 100 countries and territories. Also on social media throughout the course of the Games there were 1.3 million tweets mentioning 'Paralympic', 25 million people visited London 2012.com and over 5.8 million people upgraded to the London 2012 Paralympic App (Paralympic.org).


The athletes were spectacular as well. The games featured 20 sports with 4,237 athletes in attendance (men: 2,736, women: 1,501). 251 athletes set World Records and 314 athletes set Paralympic Games Records. In total 75 of the 164 competing countries won at least one medal.

Competition

Kari's biggest competitor was herself. She had to battle through the ups and downs of losing her legs and not being able to do things the same way. She had many failures but what lead her to her success was her friends and family and adaptive sports.


When Kari Miller first started out for sitting volleyball she had to compete with many other athletes that wanted the same position on the USA Paralympic Team's roster. When she did not make the 2004 team Miller increased her training to compete against her competitors to make the 2006 team. The U.S. squad finished fifth in the world championships that year. When 2008 came around the U.S Paralympic team won a silver medal in Beijing competing against 16 countries. In 2011 Miller was named best libero beating out 16 other worthy competitors. Finally in 2012 after the USA team beat out 16 countries again to win a silver medal, Miller was named Best Receiver and Best Libero.

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Symbolic

With being a Paralympic athlete Kari Miller showed patriotism and pride when she represented her country. When she returned home from the games she was a role model to young kids and even adults who have a disability. She values helping others especially wounded veterans. She even stated “Seeing someone like me would have helped me when I got injured. Mentors like myself and other injured service members is invaluable in the recovery of soldiers.” She continues to this day helping others overcome trauma.
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Amanda Bickford

Sounds from Monday evening by Amanda Bickford