The Post-Journal

Another Big Break For Miller

Back in 2005, Cindy Miller of Silver Creek was one of ten women to appear in the Golf Channel's reality show The Big Break III: For Women Only. Miller, who was 48 at the time, was competing against golfers in their 20s and 30s and proved age doesn't matter by being eliminated in the next-to-last program.

That made Miller one of the most popular participants on the program, but she said this week, "My five minutes of fame was over in about six minutes."

Well now Miller is about to have another six minutes because she was chosen as one of 16 participants in the previous six Big Break programs to appear in The Big Break VII: Reunion. The program will begin airing on February 25, but it was taped for two weeks in November at the Ginn Reunion Resort in Reunion, Fla.

Miller thought after she was finished with The Big Break III, her "breaks" with the Golf Channel were over.

"I had no clue they would even have a reunion show," she said.

Miller found out when she received a call from the Golf Channel back in August. It was explained that at the organization's headquarters they have large photos of past Big Break participants lining a wall. When plans were being made for the reunion program, a Golf Channel executive walked along the wall to choose participants. The caller to Miller said, "He put a sticky note on your's as one of the first ones and he said, ‘We have to have her back.'"

Miller admitted, "I think my feelings would have been hurt if they didn't invite me."

The program was taped Nov. 1-15, which caused a problem for Miller. On Nov. 2 she was scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the Executive Women's Golf Association's national leadership conference at West Palm Beach.

"I'm doing two of the biggest things in my life and they're at the same time," Miller recalled was her dilemma.

But the Golf Channel said they would work around it and did. And that meant Miller could still have a reunion with two other participants from The Big Break III - Pam Garrity and Valeria Ochoa (no relation to Lorena).

"We keep in contact," Miller said. "We talk at least twice a month. It was like let's go hang out again."

The hosts were the same, Vince Cellini and Stephanie Sparks, and Miller was also happy to see the people behind the scenes again.

"It was really fun to be there and see all the crew guys that were the same," she said. "I like the camera guys and the audio guys and it was really cool to see them because the people that work for the Golf Channel are the most fun people to be around ever. So just hanging out with them for two weeks would be cool."

Someone not present was the winner of The Big Break III - Danielle Aimee, who earned the top prize - exemption into two LPGA Tour events. The second exemption was into the Corning Classic, but Aimee caused quite a furor when she withdrew from that tournament.

When asked what Aimee is doing now, Miller said, "Nobody knows. It could have been a great thing for her because the girl can play, but it's unfortunate."

The runner-up in The Big Break III, Pam Crikelair, is no longer playing competitive golf. She got married last fall and is taking real estate courses.

The third-place finisher, Miller, is still playing and mainly teaching plenty of golf. She sometimes gives 20 lessons a day at the Wherle Golf Dome in Williamsville for five or six days a week. So was her appearance on The Big Break III a boom for her teaching business?

"I don't think it's been a big boom. I teach more lessons," Miller said. "I played much better golf after that. I finished second on the Legends Tour money list in 2005. I didn't play very good last year, but I had the opportunity to do more pro-ams and speaking engagements."

When Miller is introduced at those events, her other accomplishments, such as earning All-American status at the University of Miami where she led the team to back-to-back NCAA titles, playing on the LPGA Tour (as Cindy Kessler) for three years and playing in the U.S. Women's Open five times, always takes precedence over her Big Break III appearance.

"They mention the Big Break as about the fourth thing, which is good," she says.

After doing one Big Beak program, you would think a return appearance for Miller would be very relaxing since she would know what to expect, but it ended up she didn't.

"It would have been great to have it the way it was," she said. "The format of the show is different, totally different." When asked what was different Miller said, "I can't tell you."

Which would be the response from all The Big Break VII participants who were told not to reveal anything about the program that doesn't air until Feb. 25.

"The reason I did the show the first time was because I wanted to see if I could hit a shot with all those cameras in my face and not choke to death," Miller said. "That really helped me. I learned to believe in me by doing that show. You're thrown in the water and you're either going to sink or swim to shore and I was fortunate enough to learn how to swim to shore."

This time the "swim" was different.

"The show itself was not as fun, but I truly learned more about Cindy and gained more belief in me," she said. "I learned more about what I can control and what I can't control and I'm really glad."

The grand prize on The Big Break VII is the chance to compete in an event on the Champion's Tour, the Nationwide Tour or the LPGA Tour.

At The Big Break III, the participants received plenty of goodies such as a Calloway bag with The Big Break III and their name on it.

When asked if she uses the bag, Miller said, "I did for a while and then it was like, it's been two years, get over it. And the other thing, I have a bag that says Cindy Miller Golf on it and I'd rather advertise that."

Miller said there were more goodies on The Big Break VII.

The Big Break III is now being rerun on the Golf Channel and may lead to more fame for Miller, who had more than "six minutes" the first time. Her son, Jamie, plays on the Augusta (Ga.) State golf team and she said, "I'll go watch and guys will say (to Jamie), ‘Dude, your mom was on the Big Break?"

Miller recently attended the PGA Show with her husband, Allen, and daughter, Kelly. Miller said, as usual, she was walking quickly with her husband and daughter following behind and that allowed them to see the reaction to "their leader."

"People would turn around and look at me and they would go, ‘Is that her?'" Miller said with a laugh. Her daughter said, "Oh my god, it's like you're a rock star."

But things are down to Earth back at Silver Creek.

"Nobody even knows," Miller said about her Big Break fame. "I'm still just Cindy"

And that's fine with her.

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