This last season was absolutely the greatest season in Cowboy football history. I think we all know that. But I feel so good for our older fans. We've had a lot of tough times in our football program, but we finally showed a commitment with the next-level stadium campaign. For them to get to live through that Bedlam game and a Big 12 Championship season, I just think it meant the world to them and to all of us. I don't think it gets any better than this football season.
I put the day that (the OSU women's basketball team) won the WNIT championship up there as one of the two most emotional sporting events that I've seen in Gallagher-Iba Arena. The other being the first game against Missouri after we lost the 10 in the first plane crash 11 years ago, because that crowd lifted up that team and we won that game. Well, I thought every bit as much emotion in there in the Cowgirls won a championship to honor Budke and Serna and the Branstetters, and then Shelley Budke cuts down the nets. It would send chills down your spine.
Seven of the 10 we lost 11 years ago I call close friends. I still miss those guys to this day — Jared Weiberg, Pat Noyes, Will Hancock, Bill Teegins, Kendall Durfey and just so many great guys. And of course the players — we all felt like we knew Daniel Lawson and we loved the enthusiasm of Nate Fleming. I guess what I learned through that tragedy and the one we had back in November, and I've tried to live this since 11 years ago, is if you really care about somebody, you need to tell them you love them every chance you get or tell them what they mean to you. If it's possible to tell your daughter you love her too much, I am probably right there on that line. I tell her every time I talk to her or every time (I see her) first thing in the morning or every time she's going to bed. I want her to know it, and I want all my family to know it, because I still miss those seven guys and I still miss Coach Budke and Coach Serna. I don't think Gallager-Iba Arena will ever be the same without Miranda Serna's smile and Kurt Budke's passion for life. You knew Kurt Budke was coming around the corner before you even saw him, because you could hear him. You better live life to the fullest, and you better make sure that the people you love know you love them, because you may not see them again.
I want to always show the same enthusiasm as I showed as a student, because I think the crowd can feed off my excitement. It's not so much what I say, but it's the inflection in my voice. I hope I never, as I get older, lose that enthusiasm and that passion. Be professional and be excited about what you're doing, and it will show. I've just been so honored how the OSU family has treated me. They took me in back in 1991, and they've never kicked me out of my seat or out of the family.
My job is fundraising, and it's basically going out and meeting with other people that love the same university that I love and building relationships and inspiring them to help us. And then on game days, I get to have fun and get on the mic. I've got my dream job. I hope I never mess it up.