MASON – Excitement just touches the surface when it comes to Storm Miller’s feelings about being back on the football field.
The Mason High School senior fullback/linebacker is elated and cherishing the opportunity to be back in the huddle with his teammates playing a sport he loves.
Returning to the football field this fall wasn’t a given for Miller, who was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma — a rare form of cancer — in January. But Miller recently got cleared to return to football after beating the cancer that typically occurs near the joints of the arm, neck or leg.
“I was just so excited to get back on the field because one of the things that’s been driving me through my whole treatment was I’ve got to get better so I could get back on the field this fall and just finish out my senior year on a good note,” Miller said following a recent practice.
“I never really thought about (not playing) because the whole mindset was just you’ve got to get over the cancer and such. (The doctors) kind of gave me a bombshell and said we think you might not be able to play. I saw a bunch of doctors and I finally got cleared a week before double sessions and I was just elated.”
Miller’s return is a big boost for the Bulldogs, who lost a number of key contributors from a team that finished 7-3 last season. Miller was a unanimous first team all-CAAC Red linebacker after registering a team-high 99 tackles and also was a key offensive contributor.
“Storm is no question the leader in this program and it’s great to have him back,” veteran Mason coach Jerry VanHavel said. “That’s a security blanket for everybody because everybody feels better about having Storm as a teammate on the field. As coaches we’re excited to have him back because we know how hard he has worked to be there.
“Storm and his family kind of made it like it was no big deal, but obviously it was a big deal. It’s still something that is in the back of his mind at certain times I know. He went through his chemo treatments the entire offseason and never got cleared until a few days before double sessions in terms of having the medical clearance to play. He did go through a lot and our team rallied behind him a bit and our community is behind him.”
Miller said he feels completely normal and like he did a year ago. His biggest challenge during the opening week of practice has been with conditioning because he wasn’t able to go through a full offseason of training. But Miller knows that will come and said he will be ready when the Bulldogs open the season at home against Okemos on Aug. 25.
And his teammates know Miller will be ready and are excited about their leader being cancer-free and back on the field.
“When he got cleared it was a total relief because we know Storm and we know his work ethic,” Mason senior Andy Ferguson said. “As soon as he was to get cleared we knew he would be back on the field and that he’d work hard and he’d just be the same old Storm.
“To go from getting cancer during his junior year to completely being cured of it and getting back to being in shape to play varsity football for his senior year – I can’t even fathom that feat. That is just incredible and to have him out here – everyone looks to Storm for help and support and he is that heart of the team.”