Posts Tagged ‘Gallagher-Iba Arena’

George Schroeder at Sports Illustrated: Oklahoma State community far too familiar with unfathomable tragedy

Budke, 50, was extremely popular. In his seventh season in Stillwater, he had elevated the program, taking the Cowgirls to three NCAA tournament appearances, including a Sweet 16. Serna, 36, had been on his staff for seven years. Hargis described Budke and Serna as “incredible mentors.”

“He loved this place,” said associate head coach Jim Littell, who will assume duties as interim coach. It’s a common sentiment in a tight-knit community, where ties run deep — and where wounds are still healing from the 2001 crash.

“The tragedy at Oklahoma State, which has known its share of tragedy in the past, leaves you with a helpless feeling,” Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma said. “My heart goes out to the families of Kurt and Miranda and everyone associated with the basketball program and university. The women’s college basketball community just lost two family members and all of us are feeling the effects. There won’t be a day that goes by this season that we won’t think about them in one form or another.”

He really cared about his players,” she said. “God was first, family was second and basketball was third. He had his priorities in line. I will always be grateful to him for the opportunities that he gave me. There are a lot of girls that feel the same way. He just gave us an opportunity to have an amazing experience and to learn so much not only about basketball, but about life.”

Byford said Serna was one of the most kindhearted women that she’d ever met in her life.

“She would do anything for any of us players,” Byford said. “She would bend over backward for you. She just loved life. She brought so much energy every day to practice.

Waters said Martin, who was recruited by Serna and developed a close relationship with both coaches, was reeling from the news.”The hardest thing is the closeness, because Coach Serna genuinely cared about Brittney and her family,” Waters said. “Miranda was like a sister to her, and she always stayed in touch with her parents, her grandma, everyone. And obviously Coach Budke was another reason she wanted to go to Oklahoma State. It goes way beyond basketball for the family.”

Flags will be lowered to half-staff Monday in Oklahoma in honor of the two Oklahoma State women’s basketball coaches, Kurt Budke and Miranda Serna, and the former state senator and his wife killed Thursday in a plane crash.Meanwhile, Oklahoma grieves. The state “is a close-knit community,” said Alex Weintz, communications director with Gov. Mary Fallin’s office. “It’s a difficult time I’m sure for the team and the school and the entire state. … When something like this happens, everyone is affected.”

If you’re a women’s basketball fan, you know how much Budke has meant to revitalizing the Cowgirls’ program. If you don’t follow the sport, this terrible news probably caught your eye because of the eerie connection to the January 2001 accident that caused so much grief and is memorialized at Gallagher-Iba Arena in a haunting tribute to the Oklahoma State 10.

You might not know much, if anything, about Budke, but he’s a guy you would have liked a lot. You could shoot the bull with him about all sports because he followed everything. You could jokingly fib about your last round of golf, or brag about your kids. You would know you were talking to someone who appreciated everything he had because he had worked so hard for it.

“Not many people in Division I have been at places where they were the coach, the counselor, the bus driver and swept the floors,” he would say. “All those experiences I look back on, and am thankful I went through them.”

Read Full Post »