Reflecting on the Oklahoma State women’s basketball tragedy
I was inside Gallagher-Iba Arena on Monday for the memorial service for OSU women’s basketball coach Kurt Budke, assistant Miranda Serna and Olin and Paula Branstetter. And today, I was back at GIA as the Cowgirls took the court again for the first time since the plane crash.
I’m not really sure how to describe what it’s been like to be in my position during this tragedy. “Interesting” certainly isn’t the right adjective. Neither is “odd” or “different.” No words feel right.
I remember the plane crash from 10 years ago, but I did not live here then. I had one face-to-face conversation with Budke. I’ve lived in Stillwater for three months. I wasn’t even in town when the news broke about the crash—I was in a hotel room in Kansas City getting ready to head to Ames. In a lot of ways, I am very much an outsider.
I’m not going to try to pretend that I truly understand the emotions the OSU community felt 10 years ago and has felt the past nine days. I don’t.
The only thing I could remotely compare it to is when Pat Tillman was killed in Afghanistan in 2004. Tillman was as beloved as any Sun Devil ever because of what he did on the field and off, and his death really affected the ASU community. And his legacy still lives on in the athletic department and university.
But it’s still not the same as what has happened here twice. Not even close.
As a reporter, my job is to be unbiased. But when everyone stood up at the end of the memorial service and sang the OSU alma mater, I got chills. You aren’t a human being if you don’t feel something in that moment.
The same thing happened at the Cowgirls’ game today. The standing ovation (rather than a moment of silence) before the tip was a great moment. But for some reason, the alma mater is what got me. Then, when the players and coaches found and hugged the Budke family in the stands, I got chills again.
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