It isn't always easy for a standout athlete to become a successful coach. The innate ability the standout possessed is difficult, if not impossible, to pass along.
Duwane Miller was one who made it work. After winning an individual collegiate wrestling championship for Oklahoma in 1961, Miller came to Wichita and became the City League's most decorated coach in any sport.
In two stints at Kapaun Mount Carmel spanning 21 seasons, Miller led the Crusaders to 14 City League titles and 10 state championships, including the only two grand state championships, which Kapaun won in 1975 and '76.
Miller, along with 10 other individuals, will be inducted this afternoon into the Wichita Sports Hall of Fame. The ceremony begins at 2 p.m. at Hillside Christian Church, 8300 E. Douglas, following an 11 a.m. reception at the Hall, 4700 E. Central.
"I felt like the coaching part was just a continuation of what I was doing," said the 71-year-old Miller. "I just taught everything that I was doing as a collegiate wrestler. I kept it very simple and very basic so that everybody could catch on and have success."
The other inductees are former City League athletic director Pete Cannady; former Wichita State football players Reuben Eckels and Randy Jackson; former South basketball coach Bill Himebaugh; Shocker radio voice Mike Kennedy; Southeast High fan Bob McFarland; bowling pioneer Nadine Oppliger; former Bishop Carroll volleyball coach Maureen Rohleder; golfer Johnny Stevens and motorsports enthusiast Chet Wilson.
In addition, the 1988 Chilton national champion bowling team that included WSU coaches Gordon Vadakin and Mark Lewis will be inducted. The National Baseball Congress goes in as an organizational inductee, and Eagle sports editor Kirk Seminoff will receive the first Mal Elliott sports media award, named for the late Eagle sportswriter.
Miller oversaw what rivals anything as the greatest dynasty in City League sports. His teams at Kapaun included some of the state's most historical achievers, including four-time champion Roy Oeser.
Before Miller got to Kapaun, he was making history of his own on the mat. The Oklahoma City native contributed to the powerhouse Sooners program by winning a national title in the 123-pound division in 1961. The title was the culmination of years upon which Miller doesn't always reminisce fondly.
"They were hard years, too, because about all you did was eat, sleep and wrestle and go to school," Miller said. "It was pretty demanding. You had to watch your weight and everything else. People say the greatest years of their life was in college, but I can't say that because it seems like it was always hard work."
Miller coached in Oklahoma before coming to Kansas. He was ready to move back to Oklahoma before being tipped off to a teaching and coaching position at Kapaun by Lou Valadez, then the football coach at South.
Miller started at Kapaun in 1973 and found success quickly, winning the Class 3A and Grand State championships two years later. The Crusaders won eight more titles before Miller stepped away in 1986, and his stamp was on their 1987 title. He returned to Kapaun in 1990 and coached seven more seasons.
"I could tell you more about the matches I've lost than about the ones I've won," Miller said. "They stick with me longer."
Miller retired from teaching in 2004 after more than three decades at Kapaun. He's kept his competitive spirit alive by participating in dog shows. He and his wife, Caroline, are judges with the American Kennel Club and they show bulldogs.
That may satisfy Miller's desire to win, but it's difficult to replace his passion for wrestling.
"It'll always be," Miller said. "It probably has more to do with my life than anything else."