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By David Sharp
Highland senior Payton Miller is likely better known to the Northeast Missouri and West Central Illinois high school sports fans as a softball player. Miller helped lead the Lady Cougar softball team to 18 wins and a second place finish in the Clarence Cannon Conference during the 2022 season.
What many fans outside Lewis County probably don’t know is that Payton Miller is a very accomplished golfer. On November 22, 2022 Payton Miller turned years of hard work and practice on the softball field and golf course into a scholarship to play Women’s Golf at Quincy University after her 2023 Graduation from Highland High School.
Another unusual part of the story is that Highland does not presently have a girl’s golf team. As many as four girls played golf with the Cougar boy’s team during the spring 2022 MSHSAA Golf season.
Payton Miller and Kyle Benson were often near the top of the Cougar golf standings. Class of 2022 Graduate Kyle Benson went to the state golf meet in his junior season. Payton Miller was Highland’s leading scorer during their 2022 District golf meet as a Junior.
Joe Hattey took over as Highland’s boys golf coach for the upcoming 2023 Spring golf season after Brock Butler resigned his Highland teaching and coaching positions after the 2021-22 school year. Butler is currently the Golf coach at Troy-Buchanan High School.
“It starts with attitude,” Joe Hattey said of Payton Miller’s impact on Highland’s boys golf team in her senior season. “She isn’t afraid to put the time and work in and become better at golf. That spills over into academics as well.”
“She is an excellent student. They are not afraid to get work done. She is invested in it. She has spent time with (Golf Instructor) Mark Christianson. She has worked with other coaches,” Joe Hattey said.
“She spends a lot of time improving her game. Quincy University is gaining quite a young lady in many respects. As a student. She will be a leader on that golf team. She is an excellent golfer as well,” Coach Hattey said.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how everything goes for her over at QU.”
Payton Miller told assembled media that she plans to major in Elementary Education at Quincy University with a career goal of coaching softball and perhaps golf.
“Softball was always my first love,” Payton Miller said. “It was just hard on my body and hard on my mental health. I do want to coach softball in the future. I want to build kids’ confidence. I want to give them a safe environment to come and play.”