(Article written by Jamie Neugebauer)
The symmetry of hard work on the farm and in the game of hockey is abundantly clear to Humboldt Broncos forward Connor Miller.
A 17-year-old from Lipton, SK, his family has worked the land just northeast of Regina for generations, and presently are focussed on grain crops like wheat, barley, and canola.
When asked about the parallels between success in agriculture, in the classroom, and the game, Miller’s answer betrays his impressive maturity.
“(I learned at an early age that none of those things are) just an 8 A.M. to 5 P.M. job,” he says, “it takes extra time actually to figure stuff out and be successful.
“You really have to be dedicated to (all of it),” he says.
“In the busy season, you could be going 16, 18 hours a day on the farm, just to get the crop off or in the group or to look after the crop.”
A powerfully built 5-foot-10, 185-pound power forward with a mean streak, Miller elected to go the NCAA route while he was still playing U18 with the Moose Jaw Warriors AAA. According to him, he was recruited and offered a full-ride scholarship by the Division I Augustana University Vikings after their staff attended a single practice of his.
His impressive season so far, especially as a 2006-born rookie on a deep and talented Broncos squad, has yielded seven goals and 22 points through 37 games. That production and maturity have not gone unnoticed, as the farmboy from Lipton will be representing the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League at the SJHL/MJHL Showcase event set for Winnipeg, MB Jan. 30-31.
“I’m pretty excited for that,” Miller says.
“I am excited just to show what I can do, and what we can do as a league. We want to prove that we are THE league.”
As a youngster his family would travel the 50 minutes-or-so east to Melville for minor hockey, and then the two hours west to Moose Jaw for U18.
But Miller’s heart was always split between hockey and the family business.
“Ever since I was a little boy I loved the farm,” he says, “almost as much as hockey.
“(Agriculture) is what I’m going to do when (I’m done playing). Growing up, the freedom to do whatever I wanted, helping my dad and grandpa, and hired guys on the farm and in the field.
“It was a good way to get into real life,” he adds, “to learn how hard you have to work to get somewhere. Especially at a young age, my grandpa dropped out of school in Grade 9 to help my great-grandpa, and without their hard work, we would not have what we have today. I am just trying to pay it forward and want to pass it on to my kids one day.”
“It’s in my blood, it’s what I was made to do.”
The Miller family farm is “roughly 10,000 acres”, and used to have cattle, but shifted strictly to grain in 2013.