OSU family mourns loss of coaches
Posted: Tuesday, November 22, 2011 7:01 pm
By SEAN MURPHY
STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — Kurt Budke’s success coaching Oklahoma State University’s women’s basketball team was a testament to his work ethic and tireless preparation, but the women who played for him said it was the sense of family he fostered that they’ll remember most.
Thousands of orange and black-clad mourners gathered Monday in Gallagher-Iba Arena to pay tribute to Budke, assistant coach Miranda Serna and two other people who were killed Thursday when their small plane crashed in Arkansas during a recruiting visit.
The bright orange blazer Budke wore for the Cowgirls’ biggest games sat draped over his customary seat on the bench, as former players and school administrators spoke of the four who died, including pilot Olin Branstetter and his wife, Paula, and tried to make sense of the tragic crash — the second in 10 years involving members of OSU’s basketball program.
“We have always been reminded that we are family and that the girls you play with are your sisters,” said former OSU point guard Taylor Hardeman, who played for Budke from 2005 to 2009. “He was a father figure to us all while we were away from home.”
If the coach was a father figure, his longtime assistant Serna was like a sibling, Hardeman said.
“I’ve never seen a woman with so much energy when it came to coaching. Her passion for basketball was contagious. Most of all, she was a big sister. She listened. She counseled. She cared for others much more than she cared for herself,” she said.
Budke’s other family — his wife Shelley and their three children — and the families of the other three crash victims attended the service, as did several rival Big 12 coaches, including Baylor’s Kim Mulkey, Texas A&M’s Gary Blair and the University of Oklahoma’s Sherri Coale.
Authorities are trying to determine what caused the crash, which happened late Thursday about 45 miles west of Little Rock, Ark., where the coaches planned to scout two prospective recruits.
Budke amassed a sparkling 456-130 overall record as a coach.
Published in The Messenger 11.22.11