STILLWATER — Every day during her freshman season, former Oklahoma State women's basketball player Ally Clardy would roll out of bed and be ready to work out inside Gallagher-Iba Arena at 5 a.m.
So would Miranda Serna.
The Cowgirl assistant coach noticed Clardy was struggling in her first season in the college game in 2007. Clardy was also sitting behind future Big 12 scoring leader Andrea Riley at point guard, meaning playing time was hard to come by.
But that didn't matter to Serna. The coach came up with the early morning workout regimen for Clardy, which usually included nothing more than basic drills and running but did wonders for Clardy's confidence.
“You can just get so down when things aren't going right,” Clardy said. “But she pulled me out of the deepest hole.
“She devoted her time to me, and I think that's so rare to find in college basketball people. If I said, ‘Coach Serna, 5 doesn't work for me. Does 3 work?' She would have been here at 3.”
That's how Serna, who was killed in a plane crash with OSU head coach Kurt Budke and Olin and Paula Branstetter on Thursday night, will be remembered by those she influenced.
She was a giver.
Sometimes, there would be actual presents involved, like when Serna stocked up on candy for the OSU staff this past Halloween or once bought a team trainer a brand new pair of Nikes on a whim.
Sometimes, Serna gave the Cowgirls a laugh. Like the time she acted out scenes from the movies Remember the Titans, Gladiator and The Little Giants because an inspirational montage she put together using clips from those movies would not play during a film session.
But most of all, Serna gave her fierce passion for basketball and her loyalty to Budke, her former coach at Trinity Valley Community College, and the OSU program.
She spent many late nights at the arena preparing materials for recruits, a part of her job that was instrumental in turning around the Cowgirl program. She'd furiously scribble on her white board during practices and games, double- and triple-checking that the Cowgirls knew the plays. And she'd lend an ear when any of the players needed someone to talk to.
“She cared for others much more than she cared for herself,” former Cowgirl Taylor Hardeman said.
Those she cared for included her mother and best friend, Nettie Hererra, and her youngest niece and nephew, Lovely and Carlos. She never had her own children, but she loved the Cowgirls like they were her daughters.
Serna's faith and outlook on life were outlined on her Facebook page and printed on the program's at Monday's memorial service. It read: “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I hope that I have not a single bit of talent left and could say to him, ‘Dear Lord — I used everything you gave me and thank you for all you entrusting in me!'”
But the Cowgirls will not forget all that Serna gave to them.
“She listened, she counseled, she made suggestions and encouraged us along the way of our journey of life,” Hardeman said.