Photos by J. Alan Paul Photography
Mims, Milli, and Roni. The three Emilys (Minnick, Milligan, and Miron) have built a bond like no other. These three sophomores are a key part in the future of the young Bison volleyball team. Apart from the fact that they all are Emily M, see what makes each Emily unique to the team’s success.
It’s not often that one recruiting class has three players with the same name, let alone same first letter in their last name as well. But that was the case for NDSU last season.
To avoid confusion, the team came up with nicknames right away for each one. Emily Milligan is Milli, which is a nickname she has had since high school. Emily Minnick is Mims. According to Milligan, it comes from the band Mims. Emily Miron is Roni because of the ending to her last name. With each of them having a nickname, they can put their focus on the success of the team.
All three made immediate impacts as freshmen last season. Minnick hit .280 as a freshman in 2013, which was the highest mark by an NDSU freshman since career record holder Megan Lambertson hit .287 in 2009. Miron and Milligan were both also named to the Summit League All-Freshmen team.
“It has been huge,” said assistant coach Sarah Rauen. “They are all leaders in their own ways. The two taller Emilys (Minnick and Miron) are forces for us in the middle. A lot of teams will usually have one good middle attacker. It is very rare to have two, so that has been huge for us.” This is a lethal combination of talent that makes the Bison so dangerous offensively.
The Bison also have a force defensively. “Milligan is the leader of our defense and the leader of our ball control,” Rauen says. “She is someone we know we can rely on day in and day out. She keeps people calm and excited on the court. She really is one of our main leaders on the court, which is a good thing.”
This instant impact was unexpected by the young stars.
“We only had four returning players and eight incoming freshmen,” Milligan said. “I never imagined this being the case going into college.”
Despite their individual successes, the team struggled as a whole, finishing with a 6-22 record overall. Struggles like this can come with having such a young team. Nine of the 15 players on the roster last season were underclassmen. Without the guidance of upperclassmen, the young players don’t have the experience to know how to overcome the inevitable adversity that comes in a long season.
Coach Rauen acknowledged the struggles that come with a young team, but also the upside it brings.
“We have a lot of days, a lot of frustrations where they have always been good at their sport, but haven’t known why,” said Rauen. “So explaining the ‘why’ to them can be a challenge sometimes. Dealing with them if they do make a freshman mistake or a
sophomore mistake, usually you can mask that if you only have one or two young people. It is taken care of by upperclassmen. We are in a situation where it is pretty evident if they are having some of those moments. But it is exciting on the flip side, as well. I feel like we grow a year every week.”
This season, the Bison look to lean on the three Emilys, as well as the rest of their young team, to improve on the disappointing season last year. They know there is still room to grow, but with another year of experience under their belt, we should all expect great things from Bison volleyball this season.
As for Mims, Milli, and Roni, look for their chemistry to continue to grow. They have moved past the confusion of which Emily is who, and now continue to push each other to be better each and every day.