A Decatur native who stayed in the game despite obstacles, General Manager of the College Park Skyhawks, Tori Miller, reflects on her journey to her position and the legacy she wants to leave on and off the court.
Tori Miller is the G League’s first female African American to hold her position, and has been in office since July 2020.
Growing up less than 20 minutes from Atlanta, Miller played basketball and softball. Basketball grew to be Miller’s favored between the two, but her height proved to be an obstacle for future dreams.
“Basketball always stuck with me,” Miller said. “I’m 5’2” on a good day, so in terms of me playing at the professional level, there just wasn’t going to be much opportunities for me, but I wanted to stay involved in the game.”
Miller decided that the best way to achieve that goal, was to work in sports in a way that did not involve playing.
Miller traveled to Florida to attend the University of Miami where she earned her Bachelors in Business with a minor in Sports Administration.
“Initially for me, the goal was to be a sports agent,” Miller said.
While attending the university, she interned with a sports agency in Miami sophomore to senior year.
“I enjoyed it,” Miller said. “I got to interact with players, learn about contracts and things of that nature, but I found myself, while I was in that role, being more intrigued by the team side of things.”
It was during her time with the agency that Miller decided she wanted to work in the front office for teams, and when senior year rolled around, the graduate decided to reach for a General Manager position.
Miller would send her resume to all 30 teams, eventually landing a front office internship with the Phoenix Suns where she worked for 2 years.
“After my internship concluded, there weren’t any full time opportunities for myself, so I packed up, got in my car, and headed back home to Atlanta and pretty much started all over from scratch,” she said.
With a little more experience under her belt, Miller set out again with turning internships into full time jobs.After no such luck, and the window closing to landing a job, she ventured out and started to do her own unpaid work, scouting for a year.
Miller would split her time between Atlanta and Delaware, where her then boyfriend and now husband was a coach for the previously named Delawre 87ers.
“In Atlanta, I’d go to all the college games and then when I would go up to Delaware, I go to all the G League games and send out all scouting reports to all 30 teams on college guys,” she said.
Miller sent monthly reports that would document players who were call up worthy, injury reports, players who should be spotlighted, teams that were playing well etc.
As miller continued her scouting journey, she started to get a lot of attention from her work, particularly from other General Managers.
Miller was able to meet Malik Rose, who had been working for the Atlanta Hawks.
“The Hawks at the time did not have a G League team, and so they were getting a new team in Erie (Pennsylvania). I saw the news and then I saw that Malik was going to be the GM of them here in Atlanta,” Miller said. “I knew we had developed a relationship through me running into him at games and emails and him responding and so when he got the job, he asked me to come on board as Manager of Basketball Operations.”
With the new position. Miller would work under this title from 2017 to 2019.
Miller made a joke that communicating with Rose felt like a year long interview without her knowing.
“After going on that unknown year-long interview with him, he brought me on when he was named GM, here with the Erie Bayhawks,” she said.
Miller, Rose and the rest of the formerly known Erie Bayhawks were able to make it to the Eastern Conference Finals as an expansion team.
The Erie Bayhawks later became known as the College Park Skyhawks and Miller was promoted to Assistant General Manager.
In July 2020, Tori Miller received her position as General Manager of the College Park Skyhawks.
When asked about her claim to the title as the first African American female, Miller said the title meant a lot. “When I was first named to the position, it didn’t really hit me until I sat back and I saw all of the feedback that I was getting, all of the outpour of love and support from young girls.”
“It feels good to be the first, but it feels even better to know that I won’t be the last,” Miller said.
Miller’s point of not being the last was proven to be true when in January 2021, Amber Nichols was named General Manager of the Capital City Go-Gos.
Miller and Nichols were able to meet when their teams competed against each other in November.
“We took a picture pregame, just to take a picture for ourselves to have and look back on one day,” Miller said. The picture of the two would eventually go viral.
“It’s just things like that and moments like that to give young girls hope, that’s what we do it for,” Miller said. “That’s what I do it for and that’s what I know Amber does it for as well.”
Reflecting on her time with the Skyhawks and her journey to get to General Manager, Miller gives her best piece of advice to all women wanting to work in sports: don’t be afraid of yourself and be who you are, but most importantly “don’t be afraid of the word ‘no.’
“I’m a firm believer that there is progress in no’s,” Miller said. “Embrace your uniqueness because you are unique by being a woman.”
When asked about building and leaving behind a legacy for her family, women in sports and the Skyhawks she quotes the late Kobe Bryant, “be legendary.”
“I come from a family of women, raised by a single mom, so that’s important for me to be able to do this, to give her something,” Miller said. “They come to games, they’re so excited and so happy and so proud of me.”
Miller sees the change in the industry for women pursuing sports and acknowledges that the legacy is knowing that the same hurdles will be made easier for girls to pursue their dreams in sports.
“Leaving College Park is better than where we found it,” Miller said. “We want to create something that’s special here, whether that’s for our players or for our staff. When you come to College Park, you’re able to see the future stars of tomorrow. For our players, putting them in situations where they can develop both on the court and off the court as men, and for our staff, to help them develop. The G League is a starting point for them, but they have higher aspirations for their career.”