One extra lap.
That’s all a four year old Smacker Miles needed to swim on a hot summer day to get her reward: a cold fruit bar, reprieve from the relentless sun shining above.
“At ten, she beat me in a 25 meter race,” Les Miles, former LSU football coach and Smacker’s father said. “She out-quicked her dad and tapped me out at the end.”
Soon enough, the accumulated fruit bars yielded yet another successful Longhorn swimmer.
“I think I really like that reward-style, like pay off,” Smacker Miles said. “Swimming is just such a reflection of how hard you work, and I love the direct correlation there.”
Now Smacker Miles begins her transition from sports to sports journalism, a career she has eyed since she was nine years old.
“I think it’s kinda crazy that I knew what I wanted to do as a nine year old,” Smacker Miles said. “I knew I wanted to do that, but you don’t really know until you start doing it.”
Coming from a family of athletes and a stint at Longhorn Network, Miles seems to have found the perfect career for herself: reporting on the sports her and her family love. Her mother, Kathy, played and coached college basketball. Her father, Les, played and then coached football for Louisiana State University. Her brothers are both currently playing football.
“What would always happen is we’d come back to the dining room table and say ‘well, what was our record,’” Les Miles said. “And that’s how we looked at our weekend.”
It’s quite clear that athletics and competition are embraced by the Miles family, and Smacker Miles feels this can help her become an even better journalist.
“I think my experience as an athlete just gives me a lot of perspective,” Smacker Miles said. “It makes me think about athletes and teams differently ... because there are things that we don’t know from being from the outside of the team.”
That perspective can be attributed to the multiple sports she played before she took on swimming full-time: fast-pitch softball, basketball, and track and field, among others. And as Smacker Miles continued to grow up and mature, there were definitely times where her passion and confidence shone.
“I’ll always remember when she was like ten ... she didn’t make the (swim) team, and I could just see the tear come out from under her goggle,” Kathy Miles said. “As a parent it shows how much she’s really into something and how much it means to her.”
As with anybody involved in sports, the ups come with the downs. That’s where the closeness of the Miles family is most evident. The “get right back up” mentality helped keep Smacker Miles and her siblings looking forward to the next opportunity, and towards the successes that eventually came.
“She’s very proud of the things that her brothers, mother, sister, and dad have accomplished,” Les Miles said. “She has advanced that Miles last name.”
In the near future, Smacker Miles hopes to be working as a sideline reporter and eventually have her own TV show.
“A dream of mine would be to be reporting on a game where my brothers are coaching or playing,” Smacker Miles said. “I love having a team to cheer for ... it’s almost like a family tradition that I’m continuing.”