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A true family atmosphere for two O’Gorman gymnasts

Craig Wollman
South Dakota Public Broadcasting

It’s not exactly rare in South Dakota to see siblings together on a high school sports team at the same time. O’Gorman’s gymnastics squad is one example – well, sort of… You see Lizzie and Grace Miller are both on the team together. But what makes their situation unique from others is Grace is the gymnast and Lizzie is an assistant coach.

Grace just concluded her senior year with the Knights gymnastics squad over the weekend at the state meet in Aberdeen. As a team, O’Gorman finished runner-up to Mitchell. While the team itself fell short of the state championship, memories were still made.

Maeve Boetel broke the state mark record in Vault, and Audrey Meyer broke the ‘AA’ state meet record in floor exercise. But for the Miller’s, getting to experience this season together, as sisters and teammates, is something that no score can top.

“When I was a senior, Grace was in seventh grade, so she had just joined the team, so I was kind on my way out,” said Lizzie. “I missed a few years from when I went to college. I’d come back and watch every few weeks when I could, but coming back and watching her all season, and spending every day with her, has been a fun journey for us.”

“It’s definitely something I never expected,” Grace echoed. “At first I was a little skeptical because I was worried we’d have our little sister arguments at practice, but it’s definitely brought us together a lot closer and she’s definitely helped me with my gymnastics.”

Lizzie graduated in the spring of 2018. And while that’s not exactly a long time ago, she’s seen some subtle changes within the sport throughout her sister’s tenure.

“I’ve seen some different changes made. Especially with how it’s set up with ‘A’ and ‘AA.’ When I was in gymnastics, we did ‘A’ and ‘AA’ together in gymnastics, and they would just judge it at different times, so that’s one of the major changes I’ve seen,” explained Lizzie. “Just little things here and there, makes me miss it a lot.”

For Grace, who was part of O’Gorman’s state championship team in 2022, she said it’s just different being a Knight.

“The team bond and the atmosphere in the gym every day. We love each other so much and it wouldn’t be a team without each other. We all step up when we need and it’s just been great,” stated Grace.

Grace admitted that when her older sister first flirted with the idea of becoming a volunteer assistant coach, she was a little skeptical, but that the experience overall has been memorable and special.

“Some of the challenges, we get a little argumentative some times, but she definitely knows me better than some of my teammates and she knows how to help me handle my emotions,” said Grace. “And she knows my style of gymnastics, because I got it from her.”

“I think it’s been good bonding experience for us both and I think she’s had as much fun as I’ve had, hopefully,” chuckled Lizzie. “Especially when we were little, I’d kind of teach her the things I knew, so I think some of her gymnastics style comes from me a little bit, so definitely from when we were young, I did take on that coaching role and it’s just fun to have it come full circle now and be her actual coach for a year.”

While the journey of the season is now over, both are glad it happened. Opportunities like this are rare in today’s world, but for the Miller sisters, they took advantage of the moment and went through it together.

Nate Wek is currently the sports content producer and sports and rec beat reporter for South Dakota Public Broadcasting. He is a graduate of South Dakota State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism Broadcasting and a minor in Leadership. From 2010-2013 Nate was the Director of Gameday Media for the Sioux Falls Storm (Indoor Football League) football team. He also spent 2012 and 2013 as the News and Sports Director of KSDJ Radio in Brookings, SD. Nate, his wife Sarah, and two kids Braxan and Jordy, live in Canton, SD.
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