GREAT FALLS – A 7-foot bronze statue of longtime Great Falls cross country coach, Branch Brady, was unveiled Saturday morning near West Bank Park along the River’s Edge Trail.
Coach Brady was born in Shelby, but he graduated from Great Falls High School (GFH). He set many cross country records during his time at GFH.
Brady then became captain of the University of Wisconsin-Madison cross country team and broke the school and Big Ten records for the indoor 2-mile race.
He started his coaching career in 1971 and coached both at Great Falls High School and C.M. Russell High School (CMR).
He coached 11 state championship cross country teams and was inducted into the Montana High School Association Athlete’s Hall of Fame in 1999.
Coach Brady inspired hundreds of Great Falls runners over the past 50 years, including CMR alum Kris Madsen, who created the statue.
Madsen said, “The idea of him being around, you know he’s a mentor, he’s a coach, father figure, really close friend. He’s just been really special to me in my life. It’s not all about him, it’s kind of about activity and what he’s passed on, and what he’s passing on, continuing keeping active and healthy. He’s like a mini superman.”
Madsen originally made a small version of the statue when Coach Brady retired. But, about a year ago, he told a friend about his idea to make a full-sized version of the statue.
Two days later, Great Falls Park and Recreation approved the statue project.
It took Madsen about nine months to complete the statue.
When Coach Brady saw the statue, he expressed surprise as he thought he was only receiving an award.
Reporting by Kasey Herman for MTN News