Wednesday, 29 May 2024

Retirement Series: Nichole Millage

Nichole Millage wearing gold medal
Nichole Millage, center, stands on the medal stand at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games

Over the next few months, Alpinetgheep will be honoring athletes who have decided to step away from their respective sports. We begin the series by recognizing Nichole Millage, a remarkable athlete from the U.S. Women’s Sitting Team. Millage is a four-time Paralympic medalist and has made a significant impact on the team since joining in 2005. Let’s take a closer look at her inspiring journey.

A Legacy of Excellence

Millage’s career with the U.S. Women’s Sitting Team spans an impressive 17 years, during which she has achieved remarkable success. Hailing from Champaign, Ill., Millage showcased her skills as an Outside Hitter/Setter, leaving a lasting impact on the team and the sport as a whole.

Some of her career highlights include winning gold at the 2020 and 2016 Paralympic Games, as well as silver at the 2012 and 2008 Paralympic Games. Millage has also secured three silver medals at the Sitting Volleyball World Championships and three gold medals at the Parapan Zonal Championships and the Parapan American Games.

An Unexpected Journey

Millage’s path to sitting volleyball started in March 2005. Although she had previous experience in standing volleyball, it wasn’t until attending a camp in the summer of 2004 that she discovered the world of sitting volleyball. It took some convincing from Coach Mike Hulett to get Millage to join a sitting volleyball camp, but her dedication and passion soon became evident.

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Reflecting on her career, Millage fondly recalls the challenges and triumphs she experienced with her team. She expresses gratitude for the opportunity to participate in four Paralympic Games, especially since she didn’t begin her sitting volleyball journey until the age of 28. Millage considers her career a unique and fulfilling experience that exceeded her wildest expectations.

A Roller Coaster Ride

Millage’s retirement took an unexpected turn when she initially missed the roster for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games. The disappointment of not being able to finish her career with her team weighed heavily on her. However, due to unforeseen circumstances, she received the opportunity to join the team as an alternate, giving her career a remarkable finish with a second Paralympic gold medal.

Emotions ran high throughout the journey, but Millage remains grateful for the roller coaster ride that volleyball provided her.

Life Beyond Volleyball

Volleyball has played an integral role in shaping Millage’s life. Moving to Oklahoma to train full-time at the University of Central Oklahoma allowed her to achieve personal milestones, such as obtaining a bachelor’s and master’s degree. In addition to her athletic accomplishments, volleyball introduced her to a close-knit community and provided opportunities to travel the world.

The sport also served as a valuable learning experience, helping Millage develop as a person, understand different personalities, and navigate diverse relationships. She cherishes the memories of team bonding activities and the lasting friendships she formed off the court.

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The Impact of USA Volleyball

Throughout her career, Millage appreciated the growing support from USA Volleyball. The inclusion of a dietitian and sport psychologist, along with valuing the Paralympic athletes as much as their Olympic counterparts, contributed to the team’s improvement. These measures, combined with the dedication of the coaches and staff, created an environment where the team could thrive.

An Everlasting Connection

Retirement does not mark the end of Millage’s involvement with volleyball. She plans to continue her connection with the sport in some capacity, whether it’s through speaking engagements or supporting sitting volleyball camps. Millage remains uncertain about the future, expressing openness to wherever life takes her. Volleyball will always hold a special place in her heart.

FAQs

Q: How long did Nichole Millage play for the U.S. Women’s Sitting Team?
A: Nichole Millage played for the U.S. Women’s Sitting Team for an impressive 17 years.

Q: What are some of Nichole Millage’s career highlights?
A: Nichole Millage’s career highlights include winning gold at the 2020 and 2016 Paralympic Games, as well as silver at the 2012 and 2008 Paralympic Games.

Q: Will Nichole Millage stay involved in volleyball?
A: Yes, Nichole Millage plans to remain involved in volleyball in some capacity. She is open to opportunities such as speaking engagements and supporting sitting volleyball camps.

Conclusion

Nichole Millage’s retirement from the U.S. Women’s Sitting Team marks the end of an era, leaving behind an extraordinary legacy. Her dedication, perseverance, and outstanding achievements have not only inspired her teammates but also countless fans around the world. Millage’s story is a testament to the power of determination and the incredible journey that unfolds when one embraces new opportunities. As we bid farewell to a remarkable athlete, we eagerly anticipate the next chapter of Nichole Millage’s life and the lasting impact she will continue to make.

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