By Sarah Bartnick, WTC Stratcom
Kari Miller holds two Paralympic silvers in women’s sitting volleyball—from London and Beijing. She holds a world title, and she was named “best libero” (a special defensive position) at several prestigious international competitions. She’s among the best sitting volleyball players in the world.
And she’s coaching the 2013 Army Warrior Games team to defend their gold medal.
Miller didn’t always play sitting volleyball—her skills shone in basketball and track in high school, and she continued to play sports, even just for fun, when she joined the Army in 1995, even during her time in Bosnia and Germany.
She went home to visit her Family for Christmas in 1999, and everything changed. A drunk driver hit her vehicle, killing her friend and causing the amputation of both legs, one above the knee, one below.
Miller kept a positive attitude from the day she woke up, and when she discovered adaptive sports (first wheelchair basketball), her recovery improved dramatically too. Naturally, as an incredible athlete, she quickly rose to the top of her sport.
But Miller is a Soldier first, even since leaving the Army. Since 2008, she’s worked with more than 450 servicemembers at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, including Warrior Transition Unit Soldiers, to introduce them to the power of adaptive sports and reconditioning, specifically to sitting volleyball and wheelchair basketball.
She’s spent the last several months helping the Army sitting volleyball team prepare at Warrior Transition Command training and selection clinics.
“It’s like going back to the time before my accident,” she said of surrounding herself with so many Soldiers during the training and competition, full of the camaraderie of her old Army unit.
She’s up for the challenge. “Warrior Games is on par with competing at the Paralympics for me. The biggest reward will be when we take home gold.”
Watch Kari Miller and the Army team defend their sitting volleyball gold live on ESPN on May 15, 8:30 pm/EST.
Think sitting volleyball’s a sleeper? Check out this 60-second Warrior Transition Command video to see the punishing sport for yourself.