Stillwater, Oklahoma — Thursday’s plane crash that killed Cowgirls basketball coach Kurt Budke, assistant coach Miranda Serna and Olin and Paula Branstetter extends beyond the Oklahoma State University campus.
The Stillwater community is also reeling from the tragedy. Budke, who began coaching at OSU in 2005, has three children who attended Stillwater High School.
His middle child, Alex, was among eight seniors who nearly led the Pioneers boy’s basketball team to the 6A state championship tournament last year.
SHS boy’s basketball coach Michael Davis now coaches the youngest Budke sibling, Brett, a sophomore. Budke’s oldest child, Sara, also played basketball for the Lady Pioneers before graduating in 2008.
Instead of the two compititors clashing heads, Davis said he and Budke often coordinated to make the SHS boy’s basketball team better. In fact, the 13-year SHS head coach credits much of his team’s success to lessons learned from Budke.
“He wanted us to be the best we can be,” Davis said. “He would watch practice and do whatever he could to help Pioneer boy’s basketball become better. He didn’t have to take the time with us, but that’s the kind of person coach Budke was.”
That’s what made Budke a resource to the team, Davis said, but he also once served as an asset. Before the 2010-11 season, Budke coached the SHS boy’s basketball team during a summer tournament in Texas.
“Most people would take that the wrong way — but not me — it helped us,” Davis said. “We ended up having a heck of a year last year.”
Furthermore, it gave Alex an opportunity to be coached by his father. Former teammate Conner Lamb said he considered the summer tournament an awesome experience to learn from someone with such intelligence and passion for the game.
“The best parts of the trip were not on the court but off the court during the time spent with him,” Lamb said. “It really speaks for his compassion for us and the relationship we built.”