Editor’s Note: When we heard that Jovan Miller had signed up with Maverik Lacrosse as a sponsored player, we thought it might be the perfect time to give the former Syracuse All-American the Fireside Chat treatment. Jovan has a lot on his plate lacrosse-wise right now as he is working with Maverik, playing in the MLL, coaching the kids, playing box lacrosse for Team USA, and training to play in the NLL. JM23 provides some unbelievably candid, honest and interesting answers, and this interview is simply a must read.
When did you start playing lacrosse, and who was your biggest inspiration in the game?
I started playing lacrosse in 7th grade which is fairly late. I loved watching Kyle Harrison play as a young’n and Jay Jalbert was a beast in his day as well. K18 was the only African-American doing his thing that I knew of at that point. I got to meet him when I was a sophomore in high school (2005) when he went on to get his ring at Hopkins.
You played your college lax at Cuse, but we’ve heard you were a pretty highly sought after football recruit as well. Why did you decide to play lax over football? Do you think more kids will make a similar decision as time goes on?
I picked Lax because it was still fun for me. I believe I was a better football player than a lacrosse player, but I had been playing football since I was 4 years old. I wouldn’t be surprised if more players make that transition based off the fact that they can use more of their natural athletic ability in lacrosse.
You’ve just signed on with Maverik Lacrosse… what excites you most about working with MAV? And have you had a chance to start meeting more of the Maverik athletes? What does this group of players bring to the table and how do they make Maverik special?
I had the pleasure of meeting the Maverik athletes a few weeks ago and they’re all great guys. I think what makes them elite is that they all are some of the best at their particular position in the MLL. That experience, along with being down to Earth, makes all the difference in the world. I think the biggest thing that excites me about being a part of Maverik is being able to create products under a stable lacrosse brand. I have so many ideas and I know how to get kids to make the switch to Maverik.
Could you tell us what the demands of a D1 lacrosse player are like? Was it hard or easy to dedicate yourself to a program like that for 4 years while a lot of other people at Cuse were out “experiencing” college?
Division 1 sports are not for everyone, and I say that because it literally controls your life. Everything you do from Sun up to Sun down has something to do with the respective sport you play. I think kids get too consumed by the Final Four, and the big promotional games, and see their favorite players, and think that’s what college lax is all about, without understanding just how much time it takes to get to that level of play.
It was difficult seeing other people doing things I desired to do myself but at the end of the day I can’t regret my experience. Though I will say that because of how overwhelmed you can be at times, you will notice how much your attitude for certain things may change, and as a result it can change the dynamic behind relationships with people that were once close to you.
If you could go back to your junior and senior year in high school, and you knew then what you know now, would you do anything differently?
To be completely honest, I may have chosen to not play a sport at all, or maybe Division III. I think that you have to possess the right mindset and understanding of what being at a school like Syracuse requires. I was more than happy with my career at Cuse, but I had no clue about the backlash I would receive in the circumstances of a loss, or for defending myself in the media world.
After you finish your classes up at Cuse, you’ll be moving to Texas and coaching High School Lacrosse. How are you going to take the lessons you learned in the college sports world (that you mentioned above) and help the kids to make better decisions for themselves?
I think that all I can do is be real with the kids. Telling a kid who really thinks he/she wants to play a division 1 sport that they are signing up for a job is all I can do. I can’t downgrade the ride you take to get there. In college, some dreams are recognized and reached and others are crushed, so all I can do is give them the cold, hard facts about playing in college.
There seems to be quite a bit of interest in you as a potential box lacrosse player! What are you doing to get ready for tryouts?
I gained 10 lbs. (210 lbs now!) for my tryout in Colorado and I have been reading a lot of blogs to see all the negativity surrounding my name as a potential box player. And that’s all I need to do. I just have to use the ambition (which got me this far) and go get what I want and not expect it to come to me.
Does box lacrosse have a future in the American sports consciousness? What do you think needs to change for it to really be popular?
I honestly don’t have a solid answer for that. I think that there may be too many negative images in the media, and the basic American unwillingness to explore other sports make it hard for lacrosse to be mainstream. I think the image of lacrosse needs to change first for it to become more popular.
Describe your ideal day. Does lacrosse factor into it at all? Or is a perfect day for you filled with relaxation?
My ideal day: Wake up at 8:30, shower, go to an AWESOME breakfast place. I get chocolate chip pancakes, scrambled eggs with American cheese and some OJ. After breakfast I go home and I have a check in the mail for a lot of money. I go to the mall later and buy some baller gear and the rest I give to my mom and dad. After shopping I come home to watch some episodes of “The Office” or the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” I have tons of lacrosse gear in my house so I drive around the area knocking on doors and giving kids all over the place free sticks, gloves, etc. and see their faces light up. To finish the night I take Mrs. Nation to sushi and a movie and that’s the perfect day!!
Where is the sport of lacrosse headed in your eyes? Is all this rapid growth a good thing? How can we all make sure that the sport evolves in the right way?
I think the growth of the sport is a great thing, but I don’t like the deception that lacrosse sometimes entails. The phrase “Money is the root of all evil” comes to mind when I think about some of the things that go on in lacrosse. Everyone starts their own lacrosse camps and such depending on where they’re from for the MONEY. I learned that the lacrosse world isn’t only made up of genuine, good people; there is always some unease I have when it comes to lacrosse. We need real role models, not just the best players, representing the sport itself.
Do you string your own sticks? And who hooks you up with the crazy dye jobs? You’ve been known to rock some pretty outrageous wands!!!
I know how to string a stick but they are usually gross. Josh Amidon, one of my teammates for my 4 years at Cuse, strings my sticks. I dye all of my sticks myself… I just became obsessed when I learned how to.
Photo courtesy Lax.com
I’ve made the argument certain college sports should just make the jump and be Pro, and ultimately pay their players… Do you think there is ANY validity to the approach of paying their athletes?
Honestly I think that college sports are a disguised phrase. It should be called College Business and the landscape of sports is all based upon winning. It’s no longer about recreation and a love of the sport, but more in the context of “What have you done for me lately?”. I don’t think athletes should be paid based upon some of the stereotypes that swirl around us from the start, BUT some things should be taken into consideration as far as the amount of time people are permitted to participate in their respective sport without relent.
What do you think of the MCLA? These guys PAY to play college lacrosse, but get more control of their team. What do you think of that?
I think MCLA is awesome; they have a better understanding of taking in the full college life experience. They obviously play to win, but they don’t lose sight of what it means to be in college either.
Ever plan on coaching in college?
I WOULD NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER, IN A MILLION YEARS be a college coach.
Why would you only want to coach HS and below?
College is too intense and it takes away from the individual you’re coaching. Although some of the best players have storied careers in college with outstanding stat lines, they may have had a bad experience based off a coach. I love being able to act my actual age of 10, and not 22. Kids bring out the FUN in the sport which seems to get lost in the shuffle due to the prestige of certain lacrosse programs.
Thank you for this opportunity and hopefully it won’t be my last time. GOD BLESS!
Thank YOU, Jovan! I think your answers gave us all a lot to think and talk about!
Main photo courtesy Vaillacrosse.com