By Bill Sorrell
Steinert Tackles His Last Season
He’s been one of the most ferocious hitters in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference, but there’s something that he hasn’t been hit with.
For the first time since he was 8, Brian Steinert will not be playing football in fall 2006. The Lynx team captain and middle linebacker will graduate in May.
Steinert can be proud of the way he’s played. As a junior, he led the league in tackles with 98. As a senior, he was second in the conference and first on the team in tackles with 97. He’s been first team All-SCAC both seasons.
Twice Steinert was recognized nationally. He was named to Don Hansen’s National Weekly Football Gazette NCAA Division 3 Player of the Week team for the same games he received SCAC Defensive Player of the Week. The awards came after performances against Washington University Oct. 1 and Colorado College Oct. 22.
Against Wash U, a school he would have attended had he not decided on Rhodes, Steinert had 14 tackles, including five for loss; four quarterback sacks; and two pass breakups. It was the most tackles for loss and most quarterback sacks in one game in the SCAC since October 2003.
Against Colorado College, Steinert set a 43-year-old interception yardage record for the College Athletic Conference/SCAC when he had 135 yards on two interceptions. He scored touchdowns of 50 and 85 yards with them.
“A team of Brian Steinerts and you’d win the Super Bowl,” said Rhodes head football coach Joe White.
Calling him one of the top “two or three defensive players” in the SCAC, White said Steinert would be on his “all-decade team.”
Steinert’s intelligence, attention to detail, determination, strength, speed and the ability to be where he needed to be were among his assets.
His biggest honor came when teammates elected him one of three captains.
“It really did push me to grow and to become the leader I needed to be. Being named captain meant players expected a lot out of me. My own expectations were a lot higher than other people’s expectations,” said Steinert, a native of Hoover, AL.
Said senior defensive end Daniel Brunner, “He’s always been so quiet-spoken. He came out of his shell. He became more of a vocal leader.”
“Steinert played football like it was his job,” said Brunner, a team captain who led the SCAC with 11 quarterback sacks. “He goes in with his lunch pail, punches the clock and gets to work.”
Through football Steinert learned to persevere. “Four years of football is a tough thing for anybody. It’s never smooth sailing.”
After graduation, Steinert, a biophysics major with a 3.21 GPA, plans to return to Sweet Home Alabama.
He’s applied for graduate school at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he plans to study material science and engineering.
It was a sneaky way to make a splash but it got Jazmin Miller into the swim of things athletically.
Logan Miller picked up his daughter at preschool one day with a top secret: “Don’t tell Mom, but we’re going to do something exciting."
When he and Jazmin arrived home, he tossed her into the family swimming pool. Sink or swim.
They didn’t know it but mom, Rosemary Miller, who’s afraid of water, was watching the entire episode.
“Dad’s always encouraged me to go the extra mile on things I want to do,” said Miller, now a sophomore at Rhodes.
While it wasn’t a mile, Miller swam an extra-fast 100-yard freestyle at the 2005 Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference meet at San Antonio in February.
With her time of 52.78 seconds, Miller became the first Rhodes swimmer to qualify for the NCAA Division 3 national championships.
Rhodes athletic director Mike Clary began the swimming and diving program during the 1998-99 school year.
Using her 6-0 height, natural speed and hard work, Miller achieved an honor that she had no idea was so monumental. When Clary presented her with an athletic department award, it sank in.
“I didn’t think any one person could be singled out for contributing something for the major growth of a sport,” said Miller. “I think there have been breakthroughs in other sports, but swimming is relatively new. I didn’t think I would be one to trailblaze. I was looking up to other people.”
Miller is a role model for the program, said new coach Jon Duncan, a former Purdue swimmer who qualified for the 2000 Olympic trials. “Her experience at the national level makes her a leader. Everybody relies on her to do well.” She was the female MVP for Rhodes swimming for 2005.
Clary, who called Miller one of the top 10 students he’s recruited in 25 years, attributed the training regimen of last season’s part-time coach Dick Fadgen for Miller’s development.
“The talent was always there,” said Fadgen. “She went from a decent swimmer to a great swimmer. She’s not a tank. She’s tall, she’s lean. She’s like a rocket ship going through the water. She looks like a toothpick, but she’s strong.”
Miller honed her skills swimming for the Germantown Swim Team and the Memphis Tiger Swim Team. At Houston High School, she was a top five finalist for the Best of the Preps in swimming in 2003 and was named to the Best of the Preps swim team in 2004. She qualified for the state meet ing 2003 and 2004.
“I’m a mental swimmer,” said Miller, who must discipline herself for 6 a.m. swim practice, more than 20 hours a week in the pool and maintain a Dean’s List 3.74 GPA. She is majoring in theater.
Her parents are both family practitioners in Whitehaven. Her brother, Logan Miller Jr., graduated from Duke in 2005 and is living in Charlotte, NC, studying for the LSAT.
Calling her success “serious blessings from the Lord,” Miller said, “Without my faith, I don’t think I would have made it.”
Miller’s goal is to break the SCAC 100-yard freestyle record of 52.38 seconds and improve on her 15th-place finish at nationals which were at Hope College in Michigan last March.
There may be other challenges in her future, such as the Olympics.
“It’s nothing I’ve ever even thought about, but neither were the nationals,” she said. “It could be a possibility in the future.”