Kurt Budke made early impression
I, like so many others, woke up to the terrible news that OSU women’s basketball coach Kurt Budke, along with assistant Miranda Serna and two others, died in a plane crash in Arkansas Thursday night.
I don’t have the history with Budke that many of my colleagues, or OSU fans, do. But he made a wonderful impression on me the two times we crossed paths.
His Cowgirls came to Tempe to play in the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament when I was a senior at Arizona State in 2010. Women’s basketball was one of my beats during my time at the campus newspaper, and even though the Sun Devils did not make the tournament that year, I covered those games at Wells Fargo Arena.
I just remember walking away from those two postgame press conferences thinking “I like that guy.” His personality was easygoing yet engaging, and he talked about his players in such a positive manner.
I got to meet Budke in person for the first time at OSU basketball media day a few weeks ago. Again, he was upbeat and optimistic when talking about his team, and so welcoming when briefly chatting with me after the press conference.
I brought up that I was at those games in Tempe two years ago and that I covered ASU women’s basketball for three seasons, and Budke immediately asked about ASU coach Charli Turner Thorne, who is taking a leave of absence this season to spend time with her family and to “re-center herself.” Later that day, I shot Turner Thorne a text saying that Budke sent his well wishes, and she told me to tell her “good friend Kurt” hello.
I was looking forward to relaying that simple message to Budke the next time I saw him. I’m saddened that I never got to.
I was not in Oklahoma when tragedy struck OSU in 2001, but I always find myself taking a moment to stop and reflect whenever I walk past the plane crash memorial inside Gallagher-Iba Arena. It’s impossible to explain why one school or community should have to go through this again.
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