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Competing for a Cause: A Q&A with Joey Miller '14 and Kevin Smith '14
04.10.14 |
Last January, when Dutchmen wide receiver Joey Miller ’14 and nose tackle Kevin Smith ’14 were invited to participate in the second annual Dream Bowl Senior All-Star game in Virginia Beach, Va., they decided to take advantage of the national spotlight to advance a cause that’s been important to Valley football for several years.

Miller and Smith approached Neil Malvone, founder and president of Cutting Edge Sports Management, which organized the showcase game for Division II and III football all-stars, and requested permission to wear a special jersey honoring 7-year-old Levi Hains, a Lebanon resident who is fighting an aggressive and incurable form of muscular dystrophy. The idea snowballed from there.

“Joey had this idea of doing something for Levi and his family,” says Smith, who majors in early childhood education at LVC and hopes to teach math after graduation. “We asked Mr. Malvone if we both could wear number 2 on our jerseys—that’s Levi’s favorite number. He became interested in Levi’s story and invited Levi and his family to be guests at the game and perform the coin toss. We were able to raise $5,000 selling wrist bands.”

“It wasn’t just LVC there supporting Levi, there were others from all around the country,” added Miller. “It’s very special that he was able to get not only the recognition but the help to potentially find a breakthrough.”

Levi also was named an honorary team captain and attended the players’ banquet after the game, where he received a special jersey.

“Levi loved it,” said Miller, a psychology major who has set his sights on drug and rehab counseling after graduation. “Normally, he’s very reserved, very quiet, but when we were at the banquet, when we gave him the jersey, he had the biggest smile. He really enjoyed himself—he was giving everyone high-fives. It was definitely one of the most memorable moments of my football season.”

For several years Levi has been close to the heart of Dutchmen athletics. Each year the football team invites the Hains family to attend a home game and does regular fundraising toward finding a cure for Levi’s disease, Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

JOEY MILLER

How did you acquire your competitive spirit?

I see myself as a very competitive person. I’m laid back when it comes to sports, but I’m also very serious about it. I hate losing—it just doesn’t settle well with me, especially if it’s a game that we could possibly win. I get that from my dad and my whole family. When I was little, my dad was an assistant varsity coach for Lower Dauphin High School’s basketball team, so I’ve always been raised in a competitive environment. But the most important thing was to be the best you could be. If you can be the best you can be, and work hard at everything you do, you’ll accomplish a lot.

What motivates you?
Knowing Levi and his situation motivates me. It’s very humbling to know that God gave me an opportunity, with the athleticism that I have, and that not everyone is given the same opportunities. You can’t take anything for granted—you have to work hard. That drives me to be better than myself every time.

What activities, people, or courses at LVC helped you prepare for success?
Overall, I would say Coach Mo [Jim Monos, head coach, LVC football]. He’s a phenomenal recruiter, and being the first MAC champs in 44 years, there was a lot of competition—all friendly competition. Also Dr. Louis Manza, [chair and professor of psychology]. He wants you to be the best that you can be—he betters you and gets you ready to be an adult. He’s a very challenging professor with challenging classes and he prepares you for the workforce.

What’s most important to remain competitive in your field?
You have to be focused, have a great work ethic, and show your supervisors that you’re willing to do anything, even if you start off at the bottom.

How do you prepare physically and mentally for competition?
I have to go in focused, with the attitude that I’m going to be able to better myself every day and learn and move up.

Who is your favorite competitive role model?
My parents. When I was a freshman in high school, my father retired from being a correctional officer and two days later started a job at Elizabethtown College in public safety so he could make my siblings and me eligible for a tuition exchange scholarship. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be in a position to go to school here.

Do you have a guiding philosophy about competition?
Be the best that you can be and smile when you do it. You’re wasting time if you’re not trying to better yourself every single day and creating opportunities.

Which leaders inspire you? Why?
Definitely Nelson Mandela, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr. What they accomplished, not only in their lives but for the whole world—you can’t do anything but tip your hat to them. They put their own lives at stake for literally millions of people and it’s very humbling to look at what they did.

Another one of my inspirations is Nick Pantalone ’15. Nick’s family and my family go way back, and to know what he had to endure, and that he was able to maintain a 3.5 GPA with all the obstacles that he faced, you take a step back and look at what you have. [LVC student Nick Pantalone ’15 died in March 24, 2013 of cancer.]

And then Coach Vince Pantalone [LVC assistant football coach and Nick’s father], he’s a very academic-minded person. Though he obviously wants you to be successful in football, he places a greater priority on making sure you graduate. The entire Pantalone family is a great inspiration not only for my family but the whole campus.

What makes LVC competitive?
The curriculum is challenging and the professors encourage you to think outside of the box about topics. They broaden your horizons and your mindset.

What advice would you give to current LVC students?
Come in with an open mind. LVC is a diverse community with a wide range of personalities. College is hard, and you’re going to struggle, but in the end you get to meet great people and you get one of the best educations in the United States, so work hard!


KEVIN SMITH

How did you acquire your competitive spirit?

Winning is everything for me. Growing up it was always like that, whether it’s a board game with my family or shooting hoops in the backyard or playing touch football with my friends. It’s something I was born with—I’ve always had a competitive edge. I guess it comes from my dad—he was always a coach and he coached me up until high school. He never pushed me too hard but he always made it positive. We always agreed that it was only fun if you win.

What motivates you?
Winning, of course! And the satisfaction of sharing the win with your teammates and your family.

What activities, people, or courses at LVC helped you prepare for success?
The whole football experience in general was a life lesson. Academically, it was Dr. Dale Summers, [LVC professor of education]. Every time I had a class with him he would share situations that you’re not going to read about in a book—he’d go into real-world situations. Sharing those experiences definitely helped me understand where other families are coming from.

What’s most important to remain competitive in your field?
Teachers and schools rely on test scores, so that’s something that’s going to catch my eye. Seeing those scores will make me want to guide my class to do its best and score higher than what’s expected of them.

How do you prepare physically and mentally for competition?
I’m someone who shows up to school early and reads through my lesson plans eight, 10, even 20 times until I feel confident about how I need to present the material so the kids will best understand it. Physically, it’s important to go to bed early and have breakfast because you’re going to need the energy to deal with kids all day. Mostly, it’s important to be prepared. I can’t stand to do things at the last minute, so I try to get ahead of the game.

What is your favorite book about competition?

Last summer I read “Beyond Belief: Finding the Strength to Come Back,” by Josh Hamilton. It’s not so much about competition but about overcoming adversity.

Who is your favorite competitive role model?
It’s definitely my dad. He always just looked at everything in such a positive way, even if things weren’t going our way in a game. He was always there for me. He was a positive influence and taught me the right way to handle things—and also to be humble about winning. You can be a good winner, but you also need to learn how to be a good loser.
Do you have a guiding philosophy about competition?
Be humble and be respectful of your opponents.

Which leaders inspire you? Why?
One of my favorite leaders is Peyton Manning. He’s about as real as it gets as far as being humble and being about the team first. He’s an excellent role model for kids these days—a leader on and off the field.

What makes LVC competitive?
The people and the campus. Everyone is so friendly. Your professors know your name and you’re never just a number.

What advice would you give to current LVC students?
Be as active as you can. Be involved with activities on campus, go out and meet new people. Enjoy the four years you have here because it goes by way too fast.


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