Not your typical athlete: Otters’ Millard shows hard work, fun pay offPublished 10:46am Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Good student, great basketball player, hard worker, humble, a joker and self-proclamied Pokemon master.
Mike Millard is not your typical athlete, but his hard work and dedication to basketball has helped the Fergus Falls Otters stay competitive in the Central Lakes Conference and allowed him to become the school’s all-time leading scorer.
In the Otters game against Thief River Falls, Millard stood at the free throw line staring down greatness. He took his spot, raised the ball up like he had done many times before and drained the bucket becoming the Otters’ all-time leading scorer with 1,623 and counting. Fergus Falls would go on to win the game 71-61.
Playing the post position, Millard does not tower over his opponents. Spectators watching him would not think he is a tough inside player, but his determination and athleticism has allowed him to be a force under the rim.
“The best verb I can come up with to describe Mike is relentless,” Otter coach Dave Rund said. “He isn’t the most talented basketball player but by far the hardest working.”
In his four years as a starter, Coach Rund has watched Millard grow as a more focused basketball player, but is impressed as the young man remains humble after becoming a standout on the team.
Millard has even gained a fan in former record holder and Fergus Falls standout Jason Retzlaff.”
“It shows what an outstanding and consistent player Mike has been through the years. Most importantly, he is an awesome young man. My hope was always that the record would be broken by not only a great player, but a great human being. Mike is certainly both of those things and I’m very happy for him.”
With his basketball talents well known, Millard also has a funny side. During a varsity game his freshman year, Millard was having an outstanding first half. At halftime, his teammates noticed that he had been playing the game with his shorts on backwards. Millard, either too embarrassed or ahead of his time, left them the way they were and went on to score 28 points.
His humor even flows on to the court. Talking about his favorite basketball moment, Millard does not bring up his highest game at the varsity level, but remembers hitting a buzzer-beater shot from the opposite three-point line in sixth grade and winning a t-shirt for the effort.
Being a humble player, Millard knows that without great teammates, coaches, supporters and his family he wouldn’t be where he is today.
“My parents and sister are so amazing and have supported me 110 percent in everything that I have ever done. I also wouldn’t be anywhere without God. He has shown me what’s truly important and has given me everything that I have.”
Millard will be attending the University of Minnesota – Moorhead next fall, but to the the surprise of many, he will not be playing basketball for the Dragons.
“I’ve had an amazing four varsity years here and I can’t even imagine starting over. I know college will keep me plenty busy.”
When he walks out of the Kennedy Secondary School Gold Gym in March, Millard hopes that he isn’t just remembered as a good basketball player.
“When I leave, I want to be remembered as the guy who worked hard and had fun at the same time.”