On the road again: The story of Trenton Miller
A former standout at Concordia’s unique journey from the RSEQ to a life in real estate
If you close your eyes and point to a spot on the map, chances are Trenton Miller has a connection to it.
It’s been that kind of a whirlwind journey for the Buffalo, New York, native, through the university ranks to semi-professional football. The 26-year-old lived in three different cities, in three different countries, before deciding to step away from football.
After stints at a pair of American universities—the University of South Florida and Mars Hill University—Miller made the move to Montreal where he starred at the quarterback position for the Concordia Stingers, while pursuing a master’s of business administration.
Leaving Mars Hill University in the spring of 2015, Miller was looking for something different than the two years he spent at the small-town Division II school in Mars Hill, North Carolina.
On his list: a school with a good MBA program, in a big city, where he could play football.
As he was walking through Walmart one day, Miller’s phone rang; on the other end of the line was Concordia University—a school that checked off all of those boxes.
“Concordia really offered everything. John Molson [School of Business] is obviously very impressive,” said Miller. “When you kind of couple that with football as well, it was pretty much a no-brainer for me; and just the lifestyle of living in a big city as opposed to a small U.S. town was very appealing to me.”
Miller did some research before committing to the offer, but he admits he knew nothing about the football program, the school, the city, or about the complexity of the rule differences between the Canadian and the American game.
Nonetheless, Miller saw the opportunity as a chance to hit the restart button on his career and made the move north of the border—a decision he will forever be grateful for.
“Honestly, I look back on it all the time and it was the best time of my life,” said Miller. “I met my wife there, I have a lot of friends there, and I think there’s just something special and there’s a charm about Montreal that I have not really found anywhere else.”
The former Stinger said he was unaware to which extent the French language and culture existed in Montreal, but he found the bilingualism and multiculturalism to be unique and the overall experience memorable.
And as a university student living in Montreal, the city’s nightlife certainly did not go unnoticed.
“Montreal has it right in terms of just all the difference between work and play, if that makes sense. I think there’s a very good focus in enjoying yourself but there’s also a focus on having an opportunity to be in business and stuff like that,” said Miller.
“Montreal is definitely my favourite city.”
As a Stinger, Miller broke multiple school records, won the 2015 Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec player of the year award and was a runner up for the Hec Crighton Trophy, awarded to the most outstanding Canadian football player in U Sports.
On Sept. 24, 2017, however, a questionable hit to the head vs the Université Laval Rouge et Or resulted in an abrupt end to Miller’s career at Concordia and put his future as a football player in jeopardy.
“I never thought I’d play football again,” Miller admitted. And with his parents in the room at the doctor’s office, he was told, “if you were my son, I would tell you to never play again.”
Miller describes the scans he saw of his brain as terrifying, noting there were parts of it that were not functioning properly.
“That kind of put things into perspective,” he said.
But not even that was enough to stop a 23-year-old, who at the time, was chasing his childhood dream of playing professional football.
Once he graduated from Concordia, Miller got an offer from the Munich Cowboys—a semi-professional team in the German Football League— and he took up on it. Though his family was urging him not to go, for health reasons and for the sake of his job at a pharmaceutical company at that point, Miller bit the bullet and packed his bags for overseas.
“I went into that probably more blind than I did the Montreal one; I had no idea what to expect over there,” Miller said. “I was very surprised that the GFL was actually very good football, I mean we had 15,000 people at some of those games. Football is very big in Germany, I did not realize that,” he said.
“I never thought I’d play football again.” – Trenton Miller
For most people, adapting to a different lifestyle in a new country for the second time in less than four years would be challenging. But for Miller, it was like a script that came out of a movie.
“It was the best lifestyle you could ever imagine; all expenses paid, we only had practice on Tuesday and Thursday at night and then we played on the weekends,” said Miller. “Every other day [was] just free time, it was basically like living the dream.”
The former Stinger said the lack of practice time made it tough for him, as a quarterback, to ensure that everyone was on the same page. Despite the adversity, however, Miller was able to lead the Cowboys to the playoffs for the first time since 2014.
At the end of his first season in Germany, Miller and the organization were headed in different directions, so he weighed his options and decided enough was enough. This time, it was for good. He admitted that football had taken its toll on him and it was time for a break.
“When you get so entrenched in football, and that is your life every single day when you wake up; that is your goal, you’ve travelled the world, you’ve gone to three different cities, you’ve gone to three different colleges—it consumes you,” said Miller. “Your mind just almost needs a break.”
And so that was it. Miller bid adieu to his playing career and flew home to the United States to begin the next chapter of his life. He was hired by Pulte Homes—a home construction company—where he thrived as a new home sales specialist. Similar to his playing career, the opportunity presented itself randomly, so Miller jumped on it and has enjoyed success ever since.
Miller’s competitive nature helped him all throughout his football career and now, as a sales specialist, he says that extra push has helped make the transition easier.
“It has a lot of similarities to football, in terms of what you put into it, you get out of it, which I like,” expressed Miller.. “It’s a very competitive business too, so I enjoy that; you know, every week you see the amount of sales that everyone has in the company. [...] it definitely reflects my competitive drive, so that makes it easier,” he added.
As he reflects on his playing career, Miller learned a lot of lessons along the way; some associated with football and others that reflect on life as a whole.
“Enjoy that time with your teammates and everything like that, because, man, once you’re in the real world there’s just nothing like being on a football team [...] it doesn’t exist anymore,” said Miller.
With his playing days behind him, Miller has considered coaching as a way to stay connected with football and give back to the game that gave him so much. That, however, is a role he says he may only tackle in the future. For now, he’s satisfied with where he is.
“I’m really enjoying something different, which is real estate, but I’m not going to leave the door closed on a [coaching] opportunity. I can definitely see myself in the future helping out probably more with underprivileged high schools in the area working with those communities on a volunteer basis—just for fun,” said Miller.
For the time being, Miller, along with his wife who he married in the summer of 2019, are focused on the present and look forward to finally settling down in their new home in St. Petersburg, Florida for the foreseeable future.
But for the journeyman, who’s bounced around since his senior year in high school, only he knows how long that may be.