How did a shy boy like Ethan Miller who has never traveled further away than Disneyland in California, plus the only person chosen from Idaho, wind up in London, England, performing in front of thousands for its 33rd year annual 2019 New Year’s Day Parade with the Varsity All-Americans cheerleaders?
The privilege came as a result of encouragement from his older brother, Jarren Miller, his mother, Shannon Miller, the PHS Cheerleading Head Coach Kimberly Hobbs, a burning desire, and many hours of practice and competition.
“I was a very shy, introverted kid. When I was out in public, I would hide behind my mother. What really brought my attention to cheer was my older brother, Jarren. When I was younger, Jarren was a top-notch football player, but he was injured during a game and wasn’t able to play football anymore. After the injury, he heard about a cheerleading scholarship atUtah State University (USU). He decided to try out for it. When I saw him doing cheers, I thought it was cool. I thought that was something I’d like to do. Jarren encouraged me to do it, too.,” said Ethan, 18, a senior at PHS.
Jarren was a collegiate cheerleader at USU for three years and is currently an instructor for high level gymnastics with AirBound Gymnastics in Logan. “I see people doing amazing things there. ... it was something I wanted to do,” said Ethan and he began training for it.
Born in the state of Washington, Ethan has lived in the valley, and for the last three years, in Preston. He cheered with Cheer Force for two years, then joined the cheerleading team at Preston High School under the direction of Hobbs, .
“Kimberly took me under her wing where I learned the routine, went to competitions, and continued to cheer. I love what I do, performing in the art of moving, cheering, tumbling, and throwing people in the air,” said Ethan.
Becoming a cheerleader doesn’t happen, it takes not only dedication and determination but eating well and exercising daily. “When I was younger, I was the opposite of fit. I soon learned that I couldn’t be lazy about being in shape. I went from a pudgy kid to a more fit athlete. A cheerleader is in front of a group dancing, tumbling and doing stunts. You have to be physically fit as it is very demanding on your body and you have to have leg and arm power to hoist people into the air and hold them there,” said Miller. “I especially like the partner stunts I do. The biggest drive for being in shape is that it’s not just me on the team. I’ve got to be in good condition. Everyone else works hard, who am I not to.”
His “good” condition consists of a daily routine of pushups, sit ups, squats, and other exercises.“Every night I do stretching sets and ‘mini’ workouts before bed. One of my favorite exercises is a hand-stand push up by a wall,” Miller said.
If that’s not enough Miller is up at 6 a.m. Friday mornings to practice cheer at the school. On the other days, cheer practice can have him up and practicing before school and often after school.
Miller said that he doesn’t eat before practice or competition. “As a child, I had asthma and stomach problems. Eating when nervous or before a workout I found also doesn’t go over well. I don’t necessarily watch what I eat, but I do eat a salad every day at school, four days a week. I really eat what I want, but I do try to be healthy when I can. I don’t have a big breakfast. It usually consists of a granola bar. My main meal, which I eat quite a lot, is usually lunch. Dinner is a relaxing evening with a sandwich or popcorn or pizza,” he said. “Eating is important so that I don’t pass out during practice. Plus, I need to keep hydrated.”
While attending a Universal Cheer Association (UCA)Cheerleading Camp in Ogden last summer, the National Cheer Association was invited to go to London for the New Year’s Day Parade. Miller was one of 30 chosen to participate on the All-American Cheerleading Team. Thousands across the country tried out. Miller was the only one from Idaho.
“I want to cheer in college, so I went to the UCA Camp at Weber State in Ogden, and learned a lot of good cheers,” said Miller. “When I tried out for the NCA cheerleading team, I did toss hands press extension with a partner Kozette Hobbs, a jump sequence, touch toe and a cheer.”
When he received notice in June 2018 that he made the team, he had four months to raise $4,000 for expenses. His mom helped by selling homemade candy from her store on Oneida and First West in Preston. A Level 5 coach at Hobbs’ gymnastics studio in Preston Ethan raised additional funds by coaching.
“Ethan worked very hard to earn the money he needed for this trip,” said Shannon. “We worked as a family to make special batches of fudge, divinity, English toffee, edible cookie dough, and peanut brittle to earn money so Ethan could go on this amazing trip. A special thanks to all of my kids for many hours helping stir, running to the store when I was in the middle of a batch and out of butter, and sitting outside our store and other places week-after-week selling fudge. I am amazingly blessed to have a wonderful bunch of kids! A very special thank you to Kim Hobbs for generously letting us rent the Dynamics Studio every Saturday so Ethan could host Open Gym and we could set up a little goodie stand out back! Thank you to Stokes Market for allowing us to set up on two Friday’s to sell. And last but not least a HUGE thank you to this AMAZING community for opening your wallets and sacrificing your waistlines to help us reach our goal. Several wonderful friends and family members also donated cash. Raising $4,200 was a lofty goal for this family. We absolutely could not have done it without the kindness and generosity of our friends, family, and community. Being invited on this trip was an honor for Ethan, a memory to keep forever, and a wonderful experience to help him on his way to his career goal of being a top-notch coach that will inspire and mold athletes for decades to come. Kim Hobbs has been an amazing inspiration and role model as Ethan aspires toward his goal. We are SO blessed to live in such a wonderful place!”
Ethan left the day after Christmas, and joined 8,000 performers from 20 countries as part of the parade, on a sunny but chilly New Year’s Day in London, England.
“We were part of the parade walking alongside of the parade on this narrow street for two miles. We stopped and performed, then run, then perform, then run, until the end of the parade,” Miller explained.
While not practicing, Ethan got to tour Windsor Castle, the residence for the royal family built in the 11th century.
Miller rode the London Eye, the world’s largest Ferris Wheel, that hovers over the River Thames offering one the highest viewing points in London.
“The part of the trip that was worth it for me was being surrounded around like-minded people. I loved cheerleading. I met awesome people there from all over the world. The biggest thing was to meet these people and get to see that I wasn’t the only one who thoroughly enjoyed the sport of cheerleading as much as I do,” said Miller.