PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — Pawtucket football player Quinn Miller received an unexpected coaching session from someone who’s won the battle she is currently facing.
Miller’s story about dealing with bullies razzing her because she played what they called “a boys’ game” attracted waves of support from across the country.
Jen Welter, the first woman to coach in the National Football League and a professional player, was among the crowd of some 200,000 who discovered Miller through social media.
Welter, who has a sister who lives in Pawtucket, arranged through Twitter to meet Miller during a trip to Rhode Island.
“I want to help her reach her potential,” Welter said. “Be so good, that your game speaks for you, louder than your gender.”
There they were on a fall day, on the turf of the football field near McCoy Stadium.
“Move the whole diamond with it,” Welter said, as she guided Miller on how to use her hands during a catching drill. “If your hands are out here and I’m a defender trying to break on the ball you want to create as much separation as possible.”
As Miller’s quest to play the game she loves began to percolate through social media, the Pawtucket 12-year-old had no expectation her story would explode after a tweet of support from the New England Patriot’s Stephon Gilmore.
“I thought I was dreaming and I thought it was fake,” Miller said about discovering Gilmore supported her desire to play. “I thought my mom was lying just to get me downstairs to see the tweets.”
Gilmore and Miller will meet at Foxboro on Saturday, where she will be a guest of the Patriots for Sunday’s game.
Welter, a punishing tackler as a linebacker during her professional playing days, suggested Miller can take advantage of anyone who underestimates her, as long as she works hard on her game.
“Because you’re a girl they’re going to underestimate you which means everything you do right, makes you that much better,” Welter said. “All of those little elements. The more that you do them, it just becomes like magic. You don’t even have to think about it.”
As far as the spin from an unknown athlete in the smallest state – to social media superstar, Miller offered a lesson of her own.
“I want to brag, but I just don’t because that’s not nice,” she said.