GRAND FORKS-- Margot Miller is no stranger to the Grand Forks hockey community. She played four seasons at the University of North Dakota and has spent the last seven years as an assistant coach for the Knight Riders girls hockey team. It’s Margot’s job away from the though, that’s making an impact larger than any game.
“It’s very rewarding, I have a lot of fun. I like to participate in the drills, stay in shape, but it’s fun to give back to the community and also stay involved in the game of hockey,” said Miller.
Miller knows the value of turning in a great shift on the ice.
“It’s just fun, every year is fun, we have a lot of fun and I like to still be active, be in the drills, have fun with the girls, and seeing them from their freshman year to senior year and their progressions,” Miller added.
The Blue Line Club Arena in Grand Forks has become Miller’s escape the past nine months.
“It’s a stress outlet for me to be able to get on the ice and kind of forget about everything that’s going on at work or in the whole world right now,” said Miller.
But it’s her shift away from the rink that has Margot witnessing life and death.
“Oh man, it’s been a challenge for sure. Being an ER nurse for seven years, you never thought you were going to be in this position of what everyday is going to be like. Worrying about your own health, your patients health,” said Miller.
At a young age this Michigan native discovered that she had a passion for helping others.
“My mom was a nurse growing up, so I kind of saw her going to the hospital everyday at four in the morning and that kind of inspired me to give back. I originally thought I was going to go to medical school and that really wasn't for me I didn't think. So I knew I wanted to give back to people and kind of be involved in their lives helping and caring, so that’s why I became a nurse,” said Miller.
So instead, Margot became an emergency department nurse in Grand Forks.
“I work mainly night shifts, so I start out at 8:00 p.m., you get your patient load and it can really vary. It can be an ankle sprain, or it can be cardiac arrest that you're doing CPR on someone. But like I said, everything has really changed. We’re always wearing our masks, common fever, sore throat, shortness of breath, that’s all changed for us now,” said Miller.
This past October Miller became a nurse practitioner, but nothing could have prepared her for spring.
“My job has completely changed, I’m usually used to rushing into a patient's room, now I have to worry about myself, make sure I have my mask on, my PPE so I can keep coming back and helping and caring for people. It’s been wild, it’s been an experience,” said Miller.
Just a few shifts in at her new role though, Margot was requested to return to the ER and assist with the surplus of Covid-19 patients.
“I was practicing for a couple weeks and they kind of gave me a call, tapped me on the shoulder, and ‘hey the hospital is swarmed, you need to come back and work in the emergency department as a nurse’. I was like alright whatever I can do to help the hospital, help the community,” said Miller.
This was one shift Margot couldn’t find a substitute for.
“Thinking back a year ago, we just found out what Covid was and I was like ‘it’s not going to come here, it’s not going to affect us’ and it has completely reshaped all of our lives. There are some days that you had your mask on, you were at 95 the whole 12 hours, taking maybe some sips of water. Couple weeks ago it was pretty crazy, pretty wild, pretty taxing,” said Miller.
So after her shift ends at the hospital, Margot laces up her skates to serve her second role as an assistant coach for the Grand Forks Knight Riders.
“It is very fun to be able to kind of play both roles, be front line but also come here. Coming on the ice, doing the drills, working with the girls, you kind of forget everything that’s going on outside the rink,” said Miller.
“Just the fact that yeah she’s going through a lot at work in the medical fields on the front lines, but she has dedicated herself to this program too. It hasn’t even been a question to her. She’s here whenever she can be and she does her job to her best potential,” said Knight Riders Head Coach Alex Hedlund.
“It’s crazy how much she chooses to come here because she will be working all day and come right from the hospital, right to the rink. It just shows how much she loves this sport and how much she loves all of us,” said Knight Riders senior Hannah Gray.
For Margot, choosing one role over another is not an option. She will continue to give back to the players she knows so well, while protecting patients that she never knew.
“She loves her job. She has been put into a position where she needs to help out in the ER, even though her career changed and she was getting really excited for the next step in her career. That’s been put on pause because the city of Grand Forks needs her and she did it with no complaints. Same thing like she comes here, she does her job here, even when she’s had tough shifts. She comes and helps us out as a staff and helps our team as much as she can,” said Hedlund.
“It taught me to never take life for granted, that's for sure, just protect yourself along with enjoying everything,” said Miller.