Miya Denison: Confidence is Key

19610b0 By: Jennifer Titus

How do you verbally commit to a college for a sport after only playing the sport for three years? Ask Miya Denison, she did just that. She started playing Field Hockey in the 8th grade and by the end of her sophomore year had committed to her dream college, Boston University, to play her favorite game. In just three years, Miya developed D1 worthy skills.

Miya dabbled in a number of sports before discovering her love for Field Hockey, including swimming, horseback riding, cross country and soccer. When she played field hockey in the 8th grade, it was for the school’s club team and she admits she was “really bad” when she first began. However, despite her modesty, Miya’s athleticism landed her a spot on varsity her freshman year of high school while she was at Hampton Roads Academy. What drew her into the sport were the girls on the team, especially the seniors whom she really admired. She said she “wanted to be like them,” and that is when things changed for Miya. She worked her butt off freshman year practicing for hours on her own.

All of these hours at club practice and the time she spent practicing on her own began to make a difference in Miya’s performance. Her improvements were so noticeable that showcases at D3 schools began contacting her. She enjoyed putting the hours in and realized she wanted to play in college.

But Miya hit a bump in the road when she transferred schools for  her sophomore year to Tabb High School. Miya had never been to a public school before, so she had many new adjustments to make, including the most shocking adjustment- not being allowed to play sports for the year because she had transferred in. Miya said “it sucked because [she] hit a slump from not being allowed to play, and Tabb’s team won states.” This is when Miya began playing for u19.

It is a huge deal to play in the u19 league. She said she was intimidated- especially of one teammate, Kara. Kara went to Boston University and was the best on the team, so Miya looked up to her and wanted to impress her. But that pressure made for some difficult experiences because it began to “break her confidence.” Miya had been really hard on herself, beating herself up every time she would miss a shot. She told me she would “get upset because [she] really cared about getting better and knew [her] potential wasn’t being reached.”

As Miya focused on her confidence, her game began to explode- in a great way! Miya recalled the time where Kara passed her the ball and Miya received it, but back handed it in from her left and Kara screamed at her “IF YOU DON’T MAKE THIS…” but amazingly Miya made the shot! She shares that this was “a turning point in her and Kara’s friendship.”

The back handed shot was the winning goal at regionals. Since Miya was only a sophomore at the time, there were many limitations in communicating with the coach, specifically that coaches weren’t allowed to contact her directly. Miya had already been interested in moving up north because her family is originally from there, so the college tours began.

Miya has really good relationships with her coaches, and her coaches had been in contact with Sally Starr. Miya went to Boston University to visit, which she explains is “typically where you introduce yourself to the coaches,” but within a few moments the coaches were captivated by Miya and asked her if she had a few free hours. Boston University’s assistant coach took Miya on a tour where she met a few more of the coaches. She said they all “clicked, and they even brought up her winning goal at regionals.” The head coach asked Miya “are you faster than Kara?” and Miya asked if it was a trick question, but responded that she was in fact faster than Kara (and she truly is!). The coaches liked her confidence. But Miya had a few other colleges just as interested in her as Boston University was, so  Miya did a few more drop-ins and tours.

Boston coaches came to watch one of her  games, and Miya was nervous. Miya’s parents reminded her to believe in herself but she said she didn’t play well. Miya said after the game, she was upset. She and her mom were sitting in the car to go home when her mom said she had to tell her something. Sally Starr sent an email to Miya’s coaches saying “We gotta make that girl a terrier.” Miya was so stunned that she started bawling. She said it was “so crazy because [she] felt [she] did terrible in the game.” Her mom took a video of her crying and sent the video to Miya’s Tabb High School coach.

Miya’s coach later received a message from Boston University, and Miya’s coach directed Miya to call them. Miya received an offer from Boston University over the phone and the university gave her a month to make a decision. Miya “freakishly” resumed touring colleges. She didn’t expect to be recruited as a sophomore. She weighed her options and finally decided what was best for her. She committed to Boston University over the phone and cried while committing. They were so happy to have her, and told her that she “had a home here.”

The journey doesn’t stop there, though. Miya said it felt so good to go back to practice because she felt so relieved and that she was “done.” Her coaches told her to give the Futures team a shot.

Miya hit another bump in the road when she felt like the “little kid again” while playing on an even higher level of Futures. However, she began making friendships with the other girls on the team, even though they all knew each other from playing together for so long. She has found that her hard work leads to more improvements to the point where she is now beating the girls on the team in practice.

Miya told me that her “secret to success is that [she] believes in [her]self.” She said she “could not have gotten very far without having confidence and putting in the extra hours of practice.” Miya is currently recovering from a broken ankle but is keeping a positive attitude and using the time to cross train. She has continued to be critical of her game, but now takes the time to review how she could have done better. She thanks her parents for their constant support and listening ears, as they are her biggest support system. They were always honest with her- told her what she did great and where she needed some improvement. All in all, Miya is a hardworking, dedicated athlete who continues to improve her game and inspires so many other girls to believe in themselves, too.

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