After the 2013 MLL Supplemental Draft, the Machine added 12 talented players to its already bolstered roster including Messiah College alum and midfielder J.J. Miller, the Machine’s fourth round draft pick and 31st overall.
The midfielder attended Annapolis Area Christian for high school where he made his debut as a lacrosse star. From his skill and ability in high school, Miller was recruited by Messiah College where he continued to improve his game.
At Messiah, Miller had an outstanding career where he earned a mark in school history as the top all-time in ground balls (578), average in ground balls per game (9.32) and face-off attempts (1,036). With those 1,036 face-offs, he won 679 of them to hold a 65.5 percentage at face-off. Because of Miller’s collegiate performance, he was a four-time All-MAC performer and in 2008 was the MAC Rookie of the Year. Miller became the first-ever Falcon to be officially drafted onto an MLL team.
In 2012, he played for the 2012 MLL Champions Chesapeake Bayhawks, and was picked up prior to the start of the season. However, Miller did not play in a game for the Bayhawks during his first season due to the team’s stacked roster, but is coming back for his second season to play with the Machine.
1. What made you choose lacrosse over all the other sports out there?
I chose to play lacrosse over all the other sports out there because lacrosse is such a wonderful combination of the best aspects of some of my other favorite sports. Aspects of soccer, basketball, football and even wrestling are present on the lacrosse field and combine to create an incredibly physical and entertaining game.
2. When you were little, did you expect to play at the MLL level?
I suppose to some extent, yes. I know that may sound conceited, but I think any player who plays at the level we do has to expect they can play at the highest level. If they aren’t able to see themselves playing with the best, they will never be able to elevate their game to the next level. Furthermore the expectation of playing at the highest level really keeps one focused on what they can be doing to shape themselves into a better player.
3. What is some advice you would give to those youth players hoping to make it to MLL status one day?
It sounds simple, but you have to work hard. You have to work very, very, very hard. Work hard, believe in yourself and don’t be afraid to make some mistakes.
4. Who has been your favorite person to work with up to this point in your lacrosse career?
I would say two of my favorite people I have worked with up to this point in my career have been Brian Spallina and Nicky Polanco. These two guys are lacrosse legends and I have looked up to them since I was in middle school. So, for them to be as welcoming and friendly to me as they were was really incredible. The transition from D3 to the MLL is a daunting one and Brian and Nicky really helped me along through the process. I am eternally grateful to them both.
5. Who is your lacrosse role model?
Brendan Porter. He is one of my best friends and currently plays on the LXM Pro Tour. He was a relatively unknown commodity when he graduated from Rutgers, but through hard work and determination he’s made himself into one of the most respected players on the Tour. On top of that, if there is any one person on the face of the earth I could be like, it would be Brendan. He always brings out the best in whoever he is around.
6. What is one thing that you try to improve on with your playing style?
This may sound strange, but thinking about the game less and just playing. I play my best when I am relaxed and not really thinking about what I am doing. The less I think about my actions on the field and the more I just allow the game to flow through and around me, the better I play.
7. What are you looking forward to the most in the 2013 season?
I am most looking forward to playing with a new team of dedicated players and staff. Since before draft day, the entire Machine organization has been nothing short of incredible in terms of welcoming me into their family. I am incredibly excited for the opportunity they have afforded me and can’t wait to get on the field with the guys.
8. How do you usually spend your offseason?
Currently, I am going back to school and pursuing a second bachelor’s degree. My first degree was in Communications but I figured out far too late in my college career that my true passion lies in the study of foreign language and culture. So, currently I am majoring in German and minoring in Chinese at UMBC.
9. Do you have any game day superstitions? What are they?
Aside from spending time visualizing the upcoming game, I don’t really have any superstitions. I like to re-tape my stick and read some portions of Mind Gym, but that’s really all.
10. What is your typical pregame meal?
Typically, I’ll try to eat some sort of pasta the night before. If I can eat some chicken as well, then that’s great. I guess Chicken Parmesean would be the ideal meal, but I’m more partial to Penne Vodka or Gnocchi.
11. How do you prepare for an upcoming match?
I like to spend a lot of time visualizing what I’m going to do in the upcoming game so that when I get on the field, I can just play. The more time I spend visualizing the game and breaking it down into individual pieces (face-offs, shooting, passing) the more prepared I feel when I step on the field.
12. How do you categorize a season as successful?
This is a tough question. I don’t think a successful season has anything to do with wins and losses. That said, I think a successful season involves getting to a point where every member of a team does exactly what they need to do, to the best of their ability. If a team can get to that point, where everyone is working together harmoniously, and selling out for the guy next to them, they’ll have a special season on their hands.
13. What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Be quick, but don’t hurry.
14. What are three words that would describe who you are?
Hard-Working, Passionate, Genuine
Additional Random Facts:
Favorite sport outside of lacrosse: Soccer
Favorite part about lacrosse: The Face-Off
Favorite type of food: Gnocchi Sorrentina
Favorite restaurant: Olive Garden
Favorite place in the world you’ve been to: Berlin, Germany
Favorite place you would like to visit but haven’t: Hokkaido, Japan
Favorite lacrosse moment/experience: Winning the 2012 MLL Championship
Most influential person in your life: My Parents
Top 3 favorite movies: Atonement, L’Appolonide, Drive
Top 3 favorite bands/artists: Sigur Ros, My Bloody Valentine, Bloc Party
One thing you want to do but never done before: Write and Direct a Film, or play really noisy music at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C.