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An Interview With Gold Medalist Ryan Millar

Ryan Millar is our first interview. He has had a very impressive volleyball career as a middle blocker thus far.

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Some of his major accomplishments include winning an NCAA title with Brigham Young University in 1999. He was voted Volleyball Player of the Year in 2007. He has also won a gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Currently, he is playing professional volleyball in Turkey.

We are thankful for him taking time out of his busy schedule to make this interview available to our readers. We hope this interview will be beneficial to you all.

How did you get started playing volleyball and what advice would you have for our readers who are just getting started?

Ryan Millar: I started playing volleyball in junior high school because my brother was playing in high school and really liked the sport. He told me I should start playing so I did. Thanks for the advice Jon!!

For those of you that are just getting started the biggest tip I can give you is play as much as possible. Play doubles, play pepper, play 6 on 6, whatever just play. The best way to develop your skills as a young player is to play.

I am from Utah and remember watching the championship game when you won the NCAA title. What was the most important lesson that you learned as a player that season and how has it helped you?

Ryan Millar: The most important lesson I learned from our championship season in 99′ was that volleyball is the ultimate team game. We went into that season knowing we had great individual players, but by the end of the season we knew we had a great team. Six guys working as hard as they could every time we stepped on the floor. That is the mentality you need to be champions. It is the same mentality we had with team USA in Beijing.

What are some of the most important characteristics and skills necessary for a good middle blocker?

Ryan Millar: One of the most important skills of a middle blocker is being able to read the game. You have to be able to see things almost before they happen, otherwise you will miss them and end up getting lost. Over the year of playing at the highest level, I have really noticed how important it is to have this quality. I believe it really comes with just playing the game over and over again. Being in certain situations and knowing how to make the best choices in those situations. The more you play the easier it will be to read the game. It is important in all aspects, blocking (maybe the most important, for a good middle blocker), hitting, serving, playing defense, etc…

How has winning a gold medal in the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic games made an impact on your life?

Ryan Millar: Winning the Gold in Beijing will forever be the highlight of my career. I have achieved certain things throughout my career, 2007 USA Volleyball Player of the Year, NCAA Player of the Year, etc… Nothing will or ever could touch the label of Olympic champion. The amount of work and sacrifice put into obtaining that goal was immense. That is what made the payoff so great. One of the most exciting things to know is no matter what else I do for the rest of my life, I will always be known as champion.

Ryan Millar Gold Medalist

What are the best experiences have you had in Turkey as a professional player?

Ryan Millar: After playing for 7 years in Italy and then coming to Istanbul to play, I really didn’t know what to expect. First of all the city of Istanbul is amazing. So much history and beauty. So incredibly massive, it can be very overwhelming at times. The volleyball league is growing every year. This season is by far the best season in the league’s history. Because of big sponsors and money, better and better players are flocking to this league to play. I am pretty sure I will be back here next season as well. I have enjoyed my time here and am looking forward to more seasons here.

One of your lifelong dreams is to play on the Senior PGA Tour. How often are you able to get out and play golf and what is your handicap?

Ryan Millar: Golf is one of my passions in life. I love everything about the game. I love the mental struggle, the physical aspects of the game, how technical it is. I would love to have enough time to devote to developing my game. During my pro season, I am lucky to get out once or twice. During the summer I try to go at least once a week. If I had it my way I would go every day. Right now I am about a 13-14 handicap. I would think that by the end of this summer I will be down to a 9-10. I want to make sure and give a shout out to my sponsor Mizuno for hooking me up with my clubs.

My little boy Max will be 3 in July. I just bought him a set of junior clubs and we are going to go hit the range this summer for the first time. I am really looking forward to spending this time with him.

When you are doing training/conditioning, what does a typical training session consist of?

Ryan Millar: When I am in season I like to lift weights in the morning 2-3 times a week. I really like lifting weights. It makes me feel better and I can feel a difference on the court as well. Strength is a pretty big part of becoming an elite athlete. You have to take the time you spend in the weight room seriously. I will practice 6 times a week for about 2 hours. I really like to get into practice. I like practices that have a purpose and a goal. I think coaches can be lazy sometimes and not focus on what needs to be accomplished in practice. The way I see it is that practice is the time for the coach to shine, it is in the matches when its time for the players to shine. I tell the coaches and players I work with all the time, “As a coach, I am behind the scenes. When it comes down to it its you as the players that are putting on the show, I just have to make sure you are prepared to perform.”

Again, thanks to Ryan Millar for taking the time to do this interview. We wish you the best with your playing and coaching career that lies ahead of you.

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