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‘Sideline Sammy’ makes a run toward Cronkite School at ASU

Journalism freshman Samantha Miller strives for excellence on and off the court

Woman reporting on basketball game
August 11, 2020

Not many Arizona State University freshmen come to campus with a catchy nickname, but Samantha Miller said it’s essential to her success.

Miller, also known as “Sideline Sammy,” is the daughter of former ASU assistant basketball coach and ESPN analyst Dave Miller. Her brother David coaches at the University of Arizona and another sibling played college football at San Diego State University. She said the nickname is her way of standing out in a crowded family of sports personalities and building her brand.

“I thought it was important to create a nickname at a young age so that it almost stands as a trademark,” said Miller, who graduated in June from Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach, California, with a 3.9 GPA. “My No. 1 dream is to become a sideline reporter for the NFL and the NBA. I thought ‘Sideline Sammy’ was pretty catchy.”

The college freshman has picked an excellent place to study her craft. She knows the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication is one of the top journalism programs in the country. She knows they have world-class instructors. And she knows she’ll have access to a thriving sports town.

ASU Now spoke to Miller to discuss her passion for sports broadcasting, journalism and what she hopes to accomplish at ASU.

Question: Why did you choose ASU?

Answer: First off, my dad, David Miller, coached basketball at ASU, so I definitely already had some Sun Devil in my blood, but when I toured the campus I just fell in love. I had a fantastic tour led by Kaylee Conners, and I was able to meet with former Cronkite Associate Dean Mark Lodato and Brett Kurland, director of sports programs, who showed me all of the amazing things that Cronkite has to offer. I was impressed by the facilities and all of the opportunities that would be available for me as a sports journalist. Everyone was also so nice, and it just felt like a family atmosphere so in the end, I knew that ASU was the place for me!

Q: What drew you to your major?

A: Basically, from the moment that I could walk, I was dribbling a basketball. I have two older brothers who played every sport imaginable and a dad who coached college basketball and in the NBA and now is an ESPN analyst, so needless to say, sports has been my life. While my dad was a Lakers analyst, he brought me on set for a segment when I was 10, and when I first saw that red light go on, I knew this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

There isn’t a day that goes by where I don't think about my goals and how I am going to achieve them. Sports have this special, indescribable power that brings people together, and I want to be that voice that people hear while they feel that special power. I want people to feel like they are right along the sideline with me. I have had some injuries throughout my volleyball career that forced me to sit out for months on end, so while I wasn't able to be on the court, I found my love for watching these sports broadcasters even more. They made me feel like I was a part of the game even if I was thousands of miles away. I really hope that one day I can have the same effect on someone like these broadcasters did for me.

Q: What are you most excited to experience your first semester?

A: Over the past few months, I have been talking to so many fellow incoming freshmen, so I am so excited to finally be able to meet them all in person! I am also excited to jump right into my major and be able to learn as much as I can about the ins and outs of sports broadcasting.

Q: What do you like to brag about to friends about ASU?

A: One of the things that I can definitely brag about to my friends is that we have one of the top journalism programs in the country that produces amazing journalists that get jobs right after graduation. I also brag about the rooftop pool because I can't say that too many schools have that and we also don't have to bring any huge snow jackets because of the awesome weather!

Q: What talents and skills are you bringing to the ASU community?

A: I have so much passion running through me for not only sports broadcasting but life in general. I don't want to be just good at something, I work to be great at everything that I do, and this mentality stems from my work ethic that is unparalleled. I also definitely consider myself an extrovert and cannot wait to have so much fun and bring lots of smiles and laughter to the ASU community.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish during your college years?

A: I hope to not only better myself as a sports broadcaster but also grow as a person. Super Bowl LVII and the Final Four are both coming to Arizona, so I am very eager to hopefully be able to cover these games and gain exposure. Arizona is also home to the Suns, Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Coyotes and the Phoenix Mercury, so I'm excited about internship opportunities and to be able to of course cover the Conference of Champions.

Q: What’s one interesting fact about yourself that only your friends know?

A: An interesting fact about me is that I can rap the entire “Lose Yourself” song by Eminem. I used to rap it before every volleyball game to get the team hyped up!

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem in our world, what would you choose?

A: I would put the money towards research for a vaccine for COVID-19. I would want nothing more than to get back to normalcy and to be able to live our lives to the fullest again. COVID-19 has been economically and emotionally devastating for us all and has taken away so much, so I would love to see a vaccine so that we can take our lives back.

Top photo: “Sideline Sammy" Miller shadowing an ESPN reporter at a pregame warmup at the University of California, Irvine. Courtesy of Dave Miller

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