ALVA — Rylee Miller was just beginning to feel at home.
Miller, 21, left home in Brookeville, Kan., last summer to start her first year at Northwestern Oklahoma State University after she earned a scholarship to ride with the Rangers rodeo team.
She died Monday when her sport utility vehicle crossed into oncoming traffic on a Woods County road and collided with a tractor-trailer, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol reported.
Rodeo coach Stockton Graves said Miller had come to Northwestern with a lot of energy. She was ready to ride as a Ranger and was excited by the prospect of gaining another set of family and friends in Alva.
“These were cowboys and cowgirls, and we are a real tight-knit community,” Graves said. “The team was saying last night that they might not have known her real well, but they could tell she felt at home.”
Graves said he gathered his team Monday night to deliver the news.
“We had a team meeting last night, and we brought the counselors in so if anyone needed to talk they could,” he said. “I think they are coping well. We shared stories and just tried to remember Rylee as she was. She always had a smile on her face, and she was happy with her situation and that she was getting to rodeo.”
Graves said he spoke with Miller's parents and brother after he talked with the team. He said it was the hardest thing he ever had to do.
“I just wanted to express to them how sorry we were and just tell what kind of support we want to give them,” Graves said. “You never know what to say, because nothing you can say can make it better.”
Even though Miller was with the school for a short time, she will not be forgotten soon, Graves said.
“I don't know if she ever met a stranger; she was just that kind to everyone. She didn't fear anything.”