UF’s only decathlete is also entrepreneur
Jake Miller, a senior at The University of Findlay, knows how to throw a javelin, provides tips on bow fishing and in 2014 switched his major from physical therapy to public relations.
The Mansfield native with a 3.5 grade point average and penchant for pushing himself beyond his perceivable limits obviously stays busy, which is just how he likes it.
When he’s not working as a campus tour guide, studying promotional writing or competing as a decathlete, Miller is working on an online endeavor with his brother, Nick, who is a University of Mount Union sophomore communication major. The two have developed Otown Outdoors, which features their family hunting and highlights their other outdoor experiences.
The media venture is influenced by tradition.
“I credit my father for starting this whole thing,” said Miller. “As a child growing up, we were always out hunting, fishing, camping. As a 6-year-old, my dad took me to a hunter safety course for the first time. It was his idea to take a video camera into the woods when I was about eight years old. Because you know how people joke and brag about how they ‘caught a fish that was this big’? Filming it provides proof of that.”
At www.otownoutdoors.com are videos, styled from reality television, of family hunting and fishing trips.
“Our slogan is, ‘one family living the outdoor life,’” said Miller. “We’re trying to do that whole self-branding thing. It’s about the hunt, which creates a bond stronger than anything else.”
There are also essays, advice, and photo albums on the site.
“We were contacted by a TV show… but we turned them down. We felt we weren’t ready,” said Miller.
The brothers, however, hope Otown Outdoors will begin to pay off once they graduate. Miller said they plan to turn their idea into full-time jobs. Parents Mindy and Steve, and sister Rachel, support that, he said.
Being an athlete has helped Miller develop the discipline and drive to create a business, he said. In high school, he was a state wrestling tournament qualifier and a three-time state tournament qualifier for track.
He liked track more and has expounded upon that interest in college by competing in decathlons. The University of Findlay does not sponsor a decathlon team, but he said he has sought out competitions elsewhere and has placed in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
“I’m pleased with the progress I’ve made,” said Miller. “It takes a lot of time and energy. But I don’t need a coach in my face to motivate me. I don’t need that roar of the crowd.”
The 22-year-old works out every day except Sunday and seeks advice from other decathletes, including his competitors. Pam Showman, another track team senior who competed as The University of Findlay’s only heptathlete, has also assisted and encouraged him. The sport “is a lot like family,” Miller said.
“We all help to coach each other. There’s not the animosity that there is with other sports,” he said, “which is great, especially for someone like me who has minimal coaching. I’ve built friendships and it’s been a lot of fun.”
Miller’s public relations studies are, of course, helping him shape the course of his future. He said he spent several observatory hours before changing his major.
“I’m much happier now. It’ll be less years of school total,” he said.
Miller expects to graduate in May.