Kelsey Miller of Grand Haven is doing things right.


When we asked Grand Haven competitive cheer coach Holly Barnett for the name of a “good kid” on her team to profile here, she knew exactly what we wanted and offered up a perfect example of a student athlete who is doing it right in and out of school and in sports: Kelsey Miller.
“She has been quite a leader for us,” Barnett explained. “Kelsey never says ‘I can’t’ or ‘I won’t’, she is always enthusiastic and is a role model to all of her teammates.”
Miller, a senior, has been cheering all four years for the Bucs. She is a “flier” on the competitive cheer team which means that she allows two or three fellow team members to toss her into the air on a very regular basis. Miller did admit to us that allowing other people to throw her into the air made her a little nervous for the first year or two of the six seasons she has been competing in the sport.
“I’m not scared anymore,” Miller told us. “I like being tossed in the air – I have grown to love it. My bases are amazing.”
“Bases” are the three girls who are responsible for throwing, and more importantly catching, Kelsey during stunts. Coach Barnett has moved personnel around more than once which meant Miller has had to work with new bases, but she took it all in stride and never complained. Barnett praised Kelsey for being flexible, both physically and mentally, and went on to say how much she appreciated the way Miller worked patiently with underclassmen. She said Kelsey was “always encouraging them” and took the time to teach them routines.
It seems that Kelsey is the same kind of person in her daily life. Her mom, Deb Jackson, used the words “kind” and “caring” more than once when we discussed her youngest daughter. Oldest sister Nicole, 25, is a teacher and Megan, 22, is set to graduate as an RN this year from GVSU. Kelsey plans on attending Grand Valley as well. She is poised to enter the health care profession, but has not narrowed her major down just yet.
Jackson reported that she is a mixture of happy and sad at the prospect of her last daughter going off on her own. This is largely due to the “generally cheerful and easygoing” attitude that Kelsey has demonstrated for almost all of her life. In addition to those glowing terms of endearment, Deb also explained that her daughter is “busy”.
“Today I think I saw her for around ten minutes,” Jackson related with a laugh.
She went on to explain that in the fall Kelsey coached the middle school cheerleaders in addition to cheering for the Bucs football team. Kelsey has a 3.70 GPA and is really enjoying her Anatomy and Physiology classes. She is also a fourth year student of French and is very excited about an upcoming trip to France over Spring Break with about 40 other kids and some chaperones. They will be down in the southern part of the country by the Riviera and will spend time in and around Paris as well.
“I have always loved the country and language of France,” Kelsey told us. “It has always been my dream to go there. I’m hoping my French holds up well.”
This is not the first time Kelsey has traveled. She has always been involved with First Presbyterian in Grand Haven and has made several mission trips with a group from there. She has gone to Chicago to volunteer in soup kitchens, thrift stores, and to work with kids on three different occasions. Kelsey also spent a week in Renosa, Mexico which is about 45 miles south of the Texas border. She went there two years ago on her Spring Break and spent the time building classrooms on a school. Miller told us that she learned to mix concrete, did a lot of painting and hauled roofing materials around. We were surprised to learn that while she is perfectly happy being tossed in the air and spinning and flipping, she opted out of working on the roof because she felt uncomfortable going up on it.
When you learn of Miller’s close and longtime friendships, then it is no surprise when she relates that one of the things she enjoys the most about the competitive cheer team is the bonding experience. Kelsey has been close friends with Monica Johnson, Jaime Smith, and Samantha Racey since the third grade. In fact, we are pretty sure a couple of them were in the background when we spoke with Miller.
While she has not nailed down her career goals yet, it doesn’t take much work to imagine this kind hearted young lady choosing a vocation where her cheerful demeanor and compassion for others will come to the fore.
“I can easily see her in a field where she is helping people,” Deb Jackson commented at the end of our talk.
We couldn’t agree more.
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