On November 17th, 2011 the Cowgirl basketball program suffered an unthinkable loss. Head Coach Kurt Budke and assistant Miranda Serna were killed in a plane crash. Almost two and a-half years later the Cowgirls still pull strength from their memory."I play for them everyday no matter what. Everytime I come into the gym I think of them because I always look up at the thing at the top." said LaShawn Jones, OSU Junior Center.
The Cowgirls have overcome a lot. They've taken tragedy and turned it into something special. From WNIT Champs the year of the crash, to this season advancing to their first Sweet 16 in six years. They honor their fallen coaches by continuing to push forward.
"It's still a nightmare. You kind of think that any day they'll walk back in the gym, but everyday I think that they are always in the back of our minds." OSU Senior Point Guard Tiffany Bias said, "You know a couple of us wear them on our shoes, I guess you just put it out their however you want. We alwaalwaysresent them. They never really left."
Coach Budke was a calming figure and an excellent teacher. The cowgirls say they can still hear his encouraging words when they play.
"Sometimes I do." said Jones, "I remember the first time I played and I was all over the place. He just pulled me to the side and told me to just calm down and just relax and just play basketball. I just remember him telling me to calm down and I'll be fine."
Budke and Serna I'm sure would applaud their teams accomplishments. The cowgirls are 25-8 this season and have won 20-games for the third straight year.
"I think they'd be extremely proud of how well we pushed through things, how we stayed together and how we overcome adversity." said Bias.
"I still wish they were here, but I think they're okay. I think they're content where we are and know that we're going to do good." added Jones.
It will be a tough game for the Cowgirls against top-seed Notre Dame, but they might just have a couple of angels helping them out.