Once a Jayhawk, Always a Jayhawk: Lisa Braddy
The University of Kansas is known for putting out athletic teams that will compete at the highest possible level. From BCS Bowl games, to men’s basketball National Championships, to conference titles across all sports. The Jayhawks produce student athletes who not only succeed in the collegiate world, but in the professional world as well.
In the late 1970’s to early 1980’s, women’s basketball was taken by storm by Lynette Woodard. Kansas was fortunate enough to have this icon representing its team in historic Allen Fieldhouse, but what the Jayhawk fans didn’t know was that there was a young girl by the name of Lisa Braddy sitting in the stands who would follow in Woodard’s footsteps and make Jayhawk history.
From a young age Braddy knew that basketball was her passion and it just so happened to be something that she was pretty good at.
“I started playing basketball when I was in the fourth grade,” Braddy said. “I always played up to my competition. As I continued into middle school and high school, I started to realize that playing basketball in college was in my future. It was a goal that I really started to shoot for.”
When Braddy was just a freshman in high school she received her first college letter. As the years went on she became better known to colleges across the country. By the time she was in her junior year she was one of the top-five players coming out of that class.
“I was fortunate enough to have the option to go to whatever school I wanted,” Braddy said. “The choices were unlimited. I took five visits to five different schools, and KU just so happened to be one of the schools. Once I made the visit to Kansas I got to meet the team and spend some time with Coach (Marian) Washington. I fell in love with the team, I fell in love with the campus, but most importantly, I fell in love with the program.”
After Braddy’s visit to KU she signed her National Letter of Intent early and made the decision to take her skills to the University of Kansas. During her time on campus Braddy claims that there isn’t really one moment or game that stands out. What she does remember was the strong bond of sisterhood that she formed with her teammates during her four years at Kansas.
“There is a bond that is unspoken of,” Braddy said. “We are more than just teammates, we are sisters. That is something we will have our whole lives and that is something I truly cherish.”
During Braddy’s time at KU, she racked up quite a few accolades. She became one of 26 women to score 1,000-plus career points. Braddy also went on to set the record for most assists in a KU women’s basketball game with 18 (the record still stands). Perhaps her biggest accomplishment while here at KU was setting the all-time Kansas and Big Eight Conference record of most career assists with 686.
Upon completing her four years here at Kansas, Braddy’s life began to move in a different direction. For the past seven years she has been working at Citi Corp where she is a manager and oversees 25 direct reports. But don’t think for a second that basketball is out of her life. Braddy is still very much involved as she is a referee for basketball leagues that range from kindergarteners to men’s leagues. Braddy also spends time teaching the game that she loves to children, ages five to eight, along with coaching her son’s third grade team.
“There are a lot of things that I learned in college that I carry over to teach these young kids,” Braddy said. “I run my practices with third graders similarly to the way Coach Washington ran her practices when I was playing there. What’s most important is teaching them fundamentals. I also make sure that they understand that the way you practice is the way you are going to play in games.”
Braddy’s life is filled with work and basketball but she tries to return to Lawrence as much as she can to watch her Jayhawks play. Prior to this past year she wasn’t able to get back much, but recently she has been able to attend quite a few games and she witnessed a new break-out star challenge her assist record. On Feb. 17, 2012 Angel Goodrich recorded her 687th career assist, breaking Braddy’s record which had stood for more than 20 years.
“I did reach out to Angel (Goodrich) and congratulate her when she broke the record,” Braddy said. “I would have liked to have been there when it happened. I was able to talk to her at the banquet at the end of the season and actually presented her with the game ball that she broke my record with.”
For some people when their records are broken they are upset. Not Braddy; she was genuinely happy for Goodrich to accomplish such an amazing feat.
“In the end, it’s kind of bittersweet,” Braddy said with a smile. “It’s awesome that the record was up for so long, but records are meant to be broken. I was definitely excited for her. She may currently have the KU record, but I will always have the Big Eight record.”
While Braddy’s playing time has concluded she is still-able to stay in touch with the people who helped make her career at Kansas so successful: her teammates from all four years and Coach Washington. Braddy also continues to offer words of wisdom to not only the basketball players, but any student athlete attending this University.
“Going into college you need to be a sponge and soak up all the knowledge that’s around you, not only from your coaches, but from your upperclassmen as well,” Braddy said. “Your time there is a learning experience and a life-changing one, which is going to set the foundation for your future.”
Braddy, better than almost anyone, knows that the Kansas Jayhawk jersey is not just another uniform that you are going to wear. You are representing a school that has a tradition of being the best. You are representing one of the winningest schools across the country. You are representing a person’s way of life. You are representing a fan base that stretches to the corners of the world.
“It’s all about heart and dedication,” Braddy said. “It is just an unbelievable feeling to wear the name Kansas. I tell people all the time you have to play a game or go to a game in the Fieldhouse. Even if you’re not a Jayhawk fan, you will walk out being a Jayhawk fan because of the atmosphere of being in Allen Fieldhouse. Putting on that jersey means a lot, you have the weight of the fans on your shoulders.”
Once a Jayhawk, Always a Jayhawk.