Lakewood teacher named trainer of the year
Lakewood health and medical arts teacher Erika Miller won the Athletic Trainer of the Year Award in December at the all-star football game at Tropicana Field.
Miller was given the award - the only person in Pinellas County to win it- during halftime of the game while helping with the south county football players.
"I was very honored and surprised. My football trainers were there and were happy as well," Miller said.
"I think it's awesome. She was one of the first people I met on campus and she was always participating with the athletes and made sure they had their physicals," Lakewood Principal Erin Savage said.
Miller's trainers Casey Inman, Michelle Johnson and Miriele Paul, all of whom are seniors, also said that Miller deserved the award.
Inman, who has been an athletic trainer for one year, said working with Miller has been educational and exciting. Being able to interact with athletes and learn about their medical problems is beneficial because she wants to be a physical therapist in the future.
"She's kindhearted, determined and giving," Inman said about Miller. "She's what I would hope to be after I attend college."
Miller was in the middle of helping a football player from the south region as she was called on to receive the award.
"When I got it (the award), I first called my parents and my brother," Miller said.
Being an athletic trainer can be a little difficult as well as time consuming.
"(It takes) lots of long hours, (a) true love for sports and a tremendous patience for ongoing education," Miller said.
Miller said that when she lived overseas, she suffered a knee injury when she was hit with a field hockey stick. She had to get physical therapy, and she fell in love with the field and wanted to pursue it further in college.
"I attended the University of Florida for almost five years once I moved here from overseas. I was a little scared at first because I had left my parents overseas and this was my first time being in the states for over 10 years," Miller said.
Miller said that she is beyond grateful to receive the award because it encourages her to learn more about her profession.
"I think she deserves it because she works hard and she's the best trainer in the county," Inman said.
"They chose the right person, very conscientious and making sure to do the right thing. She's a really great athletic trainer as well as a teacher," Savage said.