The Juneau-Douglas High School girls soccer team’s leading scorer is making the leap to the college ranks.
Malia Miller, a senior forward who scored a program-best 29 goals last season, signed a National Letter of Intent on Thursday with Bellevue College, a junior college near Seattle in the Northwest Athletic Conference (NWAC).
“It’s really exciting,” said Miller by phone several hours before a small signing ceremony in the JDHS commons. “It’s something I’ve thought about my whole life. I’m hoping to play at an even higher level after Bellevue, either after my first or second year.”
JDHS coach Matt Dusenberry also coached Miller via the Alaska Development Program (ADP), a statewide group that organizes training, camps and tournaments for upper-level players. The program embarks on an annual college soccer tour every summer, which Miller took part in as a rising junior.
In addition to finding out about colleges, Miller and her ADP teammates played in a few matches, which was how Bellevue coach Richard Romain-Dika discovered the Juneau youth. Before siding with the Bulldogs, Miller visited Humboldt State University in California and University of West Florida, two NCAA Division II schools interested in bringing her aboard.
“I toured both of them but Florida was a little far from home and Humboldt, I didn’t really like the area,” Miller said. “I would say it’s important to go visit before you commit because you never know (what to expect).
“I had contact with the (Bellevue) coach before,” Miller added. “I didn’t really like Humboldt so I called him up a little later in the game and asked him if I could play for him. I played with a few of his players before and he said he had a really good team so that was a plus.”
Miller spent most of her junior school year nursing a torn ACL, but didn’t miss a step once soccer season rolled around. She wasn’t able to engage in much contact for the first month and wore a brace thoughout the year.
“Pretty impressive to not only get back on the field as quickly as she did but to have the season that she had,” Dusenberry said. “It shows how much work she put in to get back on the field and not miss her junior year.”
Bellevue went 13-2-3 last season and finished behind only Highline in league standings.
• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Empire Sports on Twitter at @akempiresports.