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Dec. 16, 2006

by Kelsey Farbotko

Some people attempt several different sports before finding their niche. Sophomore Britnee Millner always knew she was destined to play basketball.

“It’s a family thing,” Millner said. “My mom played, and my aunts played basketball in college. It pretty much guaranteed that basketball would be my sport.”

At the Carlisle School, the 5-10 guard also participated in volleyball, soccer, and field hockey, but basketball was always the primary sport for the Martinsville, Va., native.

Millner, a four-year starter, earned Street & Smith’s Honorable Mention All-America honors. In 2004 she was the Blue Ridge Player of the Year and led her team to the VISGBA Division III State Championship.

Her decision to follow up her high school career at Virginia was not a tough one.

“UVa was an extension of my high school, so I fit it perfectly,” Millner shared. “I love the traditions here, too.”

Others contributions to her enrolling at UVa are the legendary basketball coach, the strength of the program, and the quality of the education.

“It’s definitely unbelievable,” Millner said. “There are so many times where I sit back and cannot believe this is really happening, especially playing for Debbie Ryan. Many of my role models, like Dawn Staley, were coached by her. And the education, I love it.”

Coming to such a prominent program like Virginia brought new challenges for Millner. Luckily, she has her teammates and family to support her. She credits her teammates as being a huge influence on her confidence as a player.

“They’re pretty much the biggest support I have,” Millner said. “Whenever I get down, they won’t let me stay down, especially Sharneé (Zoll). She’ll tell me to pull my head up. They definitely have the biggest impact on me.”

While her teammates have a hand in shaping many aspects of Millner’s game, it’s her grandmother that drives her to improve through discipline and hard work. For this reason Millner shoots around the practice court during her free time.

“She calls me before and after every game she can’t come to,” Millner shared. “The first thing she always asks me is, `Have you gone shooting?'”

When she’s going for a rebound, attempting a steal, or just racing back down the court, it’s easy to notice her capacity for speed, agility, and timing. However important practicing has been to improving her skills, Millner will admit that some of her talent comes effortlessly.

“I’m built that way,” Millner said. “It’s pretty much natural, but I’ve worked in the past at basic techniques to help.”

Both natural talent and intense practice have contributed to her appearance in eight games so far this season, including the notable home opener against in-state rival Old Dominion, in which she contributed two points. Her best game so far this season was against Seton Hall, where she tallied seven points, four rebounds, and two steals.

With more games on the schedule, including ACC games, Millner has a few accomplishments she’s envisioned for the team.

“We need to go to the NCAA Tournament definitely,” Millner said. “Hopefully the winning with flow over to the next years and establish the program as a powerhouse once again. And the HooCrew needs to come.”

The planning has not just been limited to the Cavaliers as a whole.

“I want to try to get to a point where I can contribute more to the team,” Millber said. “That’s why I go in and shoot. I want to be more than just a defensive player.”

“Britnee showed us last season that she has good athletic ability and can get to the basket easily,” Ryan said. “She has refined her game this summer and is ready to vie for more playing time as a combo guard. She is a quick defender on the ball and can make opposing guards uneasy on the court.”

When Millner’s not using her talents on the court, she’s using them to serve her community. Volunteering in the past with Habitat for Humanity and the youth program CHILL, she finds working with children the most fulfilling.

“I like working with kids, because the littlest thing can make their day,” Millner said. “Especially at basketball camp, you could be that one person who inspires a kid to play basketball and see that there’s more out there.”

With more playing time to come in a promising season, Millner has time to achieve her goals and help the team to several exciting wins. She may even be able to find time to lend a caring hand to those in the community.

Out of Bounds with Britnee Millner

Food: Chicken casserole
Junk Food: Skittles
Ice cream: Chocolate mixed with strawberries
Color: Orange
Team: USA women’s soccer
Movie: The Italian Job
Actor: Adam Sandler
Actress: Sandra Bullock
Book: Alma Mater
UVa Tradition: Dressing up for football games

Most embarrassing song on my iPod …
Hakuna Matata from the Lion King

Three words that best describe me …
spontaneous, crazy, down-to-earth

The extreme activity I would like to try …
sky diving

My advice to a young athlete is …
work as hard as you can and let no one bring you down. Have fun.

Best Christmas present as a kid …
my first guitar and starter drum set

One thing I always pack for road trips is …
iPod and cell phone

The best thing about being a Cavalier is …
the team. We’ve really bonded very well.

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