Former US Army Sergeant Kari Miller lost both her legs when the car she was in was hit by a drunk driver while she was on leave from military duty in 1999. She discovered sitting volleyball after playing other wheelchair-based sports including her favorite, wheelchair basketball. Through dedicated training and coaching, she made the US Paralympic Team. She started competing for the Paralympic Games in 2007, where she won a silver medal for her participation at the Sitting Volleyball Invitational. In 2008, she participated at the World Organization Volleyball for Disabled and won a bronze medal. In that same year, she won another silver medal for her participation at 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing, China.
During this time, Miller began working for the US Paralympic Military program and was responsible for setting up the program for newly-injured service members at Walter Reed, Bethesda Naval, and Ft Belvoir facilities. She put a strong emphasis on positive profile utilization (what the service member can do vs can’t). In 2009, Miller was awarded Paralympian of the Year. In 2010, she won a silver medal at the Parapan American Championship, and in the same year, won a gold medal for another WOVD Championship. In 2011 and 2012, respectively, she won three gold medals at ECVD Continental Cup, Parapan American Zonal Championship, and Volleyball Masters. She also got her fourth silver medal at 2012 Paralympic Games in London, and another gold medal at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio.
Throughout her Paralympic career, Kari Miller has also worked with multiple services to create adaptive programming and events. Miller also created and executed the US Air Force Wounded, Ill and Injured program. Miller has served as a sitting volleyball coach for both the Army and Air Force sitting volleyball teams for the Wounded, Ill and Injured.
Miller will give the 2018 Able Active Adaptive Keynote presentation on Saturday, April 21st. Her presentation will focus on her life story and legacy. Miller and her teammates will also be hosting an interactive workshop where participants can come try their hand at sitting volleyball. Sitting volleyball is more challenging than regular volleyball, however, it is still just as fun!
Kari Miller also emphasized how community involvement is very important in adaptive sports. Athletes need to be aware of the facilities where they can go to participate and be supported in adaptive sports within their respective communities.
When asked what she was most looking forward to at the Able Active and Adaptive Conference Miller responded, ”I’m looking forward to spreading the word on adaptive athletics, and hoping to light a fire in others to become involved.”
- 2016: Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro (Gold)
- 2012: London Paralympic Games (Silver)
- 2008: Beijing Paralympic Games (Silver)
World Championship Experience
- 2010: WOVD Sitting Volleyball World Championships (Silver)
- 2006: Sitting Volleyball World Championships
Other Career Highlights
- 2016: World ParaVolley Intercontinental Cup (Gold); Exhibition tournament vs. Russia; Dutch Tournament (First)
- 2015: Parapan American Games (Gold)
- 2012: Volleyball Masters (Gold)
- 2011: Parapan American Zonal Championships (Gold)
- 2010: WOVD World Cup (Gold); Parapan American Championship (Gold)
- 2009: Parapan American Zonal Championship (Gold); Eurocup (Gold)
- 2008: WOVD Intercontinental Cup (Bronze)
- 2007: Sitting Volleyball Invitational (Silver)
- Member of the U.S. Women’s Sitting Team named Team USA’s 2016 “Best Paralympic Team”
- Head Coach Army Warrior Games Team “2012-13”
- Head Coach Air Force Warrior Games team “2014-15”
- Assistant Coach Invictus Team USA Sitting Volleyball “Gold Medal” 2016
- Started all 17 matches of both the London and Beijing Paralympics
- Named Best Receiver and Best Libero of the London Paralympics
- Named Best Libero of the 2011 ECVD Continental Cup
- Along with her teammates named, “Paralympians of the Year” for 2009
Did you know
- Kari is a U.S. Army veteran and earned the rank of Sergeant
- She became an amputee in 1999 when a drunk driver collided with the car she was traveling in
- In 2013, Kari was nominated for the USAA Athletic Inspiration Award
- She has since served as a community programs coordinator for the Air Force’s Wound Ill and Injured program
- She was named a “Hero of Fortune” by Fortune Magazine, recognizing individuals who work for Fortune 500 companies
- Competed in wheelchair basketball before discovering sitting volleyball
- She competed in basketball and track in high school
- Currently started and coaches “Alamo City Sitting Volleyball” in San Antonio, Texas.