The foundation, which has resulted in four years of excellence both in the classroom and on the playing fields at Severna Park, was developed by senior Meg Miller at an early age.
Her 4.1 grade-point average is a result, along with all the accolades that have come with playing varsity in three different sports -- soccer, basketball and her favorite, lacrosse -- since her freshman year. She will attend Duke on a lacrosse scholarship in the fall.
When she was 8, playing baseball with boys for the Green Hornets, she displayed the determination that has since defined her athletically.
"Meg was a pitcher, but could play any position," said her father, Glenn Miller. "With her, every pitch had to be a strike, and if it wasn't, in her mind, it wasn't acceptable. It was the same every time she got up -- she always had to get a hit."
With her competitiveness and demanding work ethic weaved in with natural ability and instincts, Miller can score, defend, assist and lead -- no matter what the sport -- with a refreshing team-first approach.
"Sports is not life or death for me, it's a chance to get out there and have a lot of fun with friends," said Miller, an All-American and Anne Arundel County's Player of the Year in lacrosse last spring. "I think I'm very competitive at heart, but sports isn't the end-all, do-all. I know there's life after sports, and obviously that's what I'm going to school for. I'm always going to find competition somewhere, if not in sports then in a job. I try to keep that all in perspective, knowing sports is going to help me in the real world."
Miller, who eats breakfast with SportsCenter, started playing soccer when she was 5, basketball at 8 and lacrosse at 11. By the time she reached Severna Park, she had the field sense, understanding of every game and leadership that has helped make the Falcons regular state contenders in all three sports.
Said Severna Park basketball coach Bill Giblin, who counted on Miller at point guard, "I think a lot of her maturity comes from the fact that every sport she's played, on every team she's played on, she's been one of the best. And she's been looked up to from every kid on every team she's played on. And I think that has elevated her level.
"She's a student of every game she plays. She understands a lot more than just what's going on on the field, and I think people respect that."
Fellow senior and close friend Jen Cielewich, a teammate on the soccer and lacrosse teams, remembers the days in elementary school when the two would provide daily lessons in recess, handing it to the boys in kickball and dodgeball.
"Whatever Meg touches turns into gold. She's just so good at everything she does," said Cielewich, who will play lacrosse at Boston University next year. "She's a role model, one of a kind. She's totally dedicated to academics and whatever sport she is playing."
Girls soccer coach Chuck Seivert says Miller, who recorded 14 shutouts in goal as a freshman before moving up to center midfield as the Falcons' field general, is a "cool, calm customer who brings total composure."
That's a family trait.
"She's always had a level-headed outlook on things, and I think that comes with our family approach with life in general," Glenn Miller said. "We just deal with things as they come along, enjoy the good things and hope the bad things don't come about as often. Meg's competitive by nature, always the hardest on herself, meaning she always feels she can improve on things."
Said Cielewich: "Meg has a great foundation and everyone is supportive of her. Everyone sees her potential and is always there for her, and I think it makes her push even more. She's competitive, but always in a positive way. Another thing that makes her special is: a game is a game; and she leaves it on the field."
Miller's attention is now totally on the lacrosse field, where she controls the flow of a game as few can. A defender, she scored 17 goals and added four assists last season.
Coach Carin Peterson starts putting out names: Tami Riley, Gina Roberts, Stephanie Roberts, Betsy Elder all Severna Park standouts who went on to bigger things, such as college All-America teams and the U.S. national team.
"Meg is right there with them all," Peterson said. "Basically, she's the ideal player. She's strong on defense, offense and at midfield. She stops top players on other teams and is a hard player to stop when she's on offense. She just has this field sense most kids don't have."
The spring season represents one final chance at a state title for Miller. The No. 5-ranked Falcons, bringing back plenty, must find a way past county rival and defending state champ Annapolis in order to advance to state tournament play.
"I think with the team this year, we definitely have a lot of potential. And our goal as it always has been is to have fun," Miller said. "Winning a state title is something I really want to accomplish since this is my last year. It's a big goal of ours altogether, so we're going to do what we can to get there."