Virgil and Elaine Brady honor coach, mentor with scholarship gift
The 1961 WSU grads credit Coach Ralph Miller with bringing them together
Virgil and Elaine Brady met at Wichita State University; Virgil played on the basketball team and Elaine was a cheerleader. Gene Wiley, teammate of Virgil’s at WSU, painted these portraits of Virgil and Elaine in 1960.
Virgil and Elaine Brady have fond memories of their time at the University of Wichita, Elaine as a cheerleader and Virgil as a guard for the basketball team. They attribute the beginning of their relationship to a friend and mentor who always made time for them, renowned basketball coach Ralph Miller.
“I was not one of his top-notch basketball players but he always seemed to welcome me into his life,” Virgil said.
Miller saw potential in Virgil, a young man from Highland Park High School in Topeka, and recruited him to play for the Shockers.
“I didn’t get a lot of scholarships and I would have gone on a partial scholarship to a small school if it weren’t for Ralph,” Virgil said.
And he never would have met Elaine.
During basketball practices, Virgil would watch Elaine as she cheered with the spirit squad. But it wasn’t until the second semester of their freshman year that he asked her out for a Coke. They continued to date through college. In 1961, they both graduated, Elaine in physical education and Virgil in history with a minor in education. They married a year later.
|“He taught us what is important in life.”
- Virgil Brady '61 on his former coach and mentor, Ralph Miller.
As a tribute to Miller, who died in 2001, the Bradys have provided a gift of $50,000 to enhance a scholarship created by Miller and his brother and assistant coach, Richard, in 1986. The scholarship goes to a WSU men’s basketball player who exhibits good leadership and character — traits that Ralph and Richard Miller sought to instill in the young men who played for them.
Virgil remembers Miller as stern but personable and referred to him as Ralph instead of Coach Miller.
“He taught us what is important in life,” Virgil said. He remembers when the team was staying at a hotel and was preparing to dine at the hotel restaurant when Miller told the players they were leaving immediately. Virgil later learned the hotel would not serve black players on the team.
Ralph Miller coached at the University of Wichita from 1951 to 1964, leaving the team well-equipped for their first NCAA Final Four appearance with Coach Gary Thompson in 1964. Miller is a Shocker Hall of Fame recipient and was inducted into the National Basketball Hall of Fame in 1988. He played for legendary University of Kansas Coach Phog Allen.
As a tribute to Virgil’s basketball coach at WSU, Ralph Miller, Virgil and Elaine provided a gift of $50,000 to enhance a scholarship Miller and his brother, Richard, started in 1986.
In 1965, Elaine and Virgil visited Miller and his wife, Jean, when Miller was the basketball coach at the University of Iowa. They never forgot how he dropped everything and spent the rest of the day with them.“We played golf with him and then he and his wife took us out for supper,” Virgil said.
Years later, when Virgil was pastor of First United Methodist Church in Lawrence, an unexpected visitor knocked on his door. “He and Jean stopped by the office to say hi,” Virgil said. “I hadn’t had much contact with him over the years.”
Virgil is now retired but still serves as pastor emeritus at First United Methodist Church, where he worked from 1983 to 1999. He is a published author and family counselor.
Elaine founded the Kansas Chapter of the National Cheerleading Association in 1965 and serves as president of the organization. She coached the KU spirit squad from 1983 to 1998, and she hosts cheer camps at Emporia, Baker University and Kansas State University.
In 2005, they created the Elaine and Virgil Brady Endowed Spirit Squad Scholarship for WSU cheerleaders. The Woodman Alumni Center on the WSU campus is named for Elaine’s parents, K.T. and Mary Inez Woodman, who were loyal donors to Wichita State.
If you would like to establish a scholarship to honor a special person and help deserving students, please contact Terre Johnson, WSU Foundation vice president for major gifts, at 316-978-3808 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.