Women’s basketball team to pay tribute to Oklahoma State by playing hard


ISU coach Bill Fennelly talks to the team in a timeout during the game against Rockhurst on Nov 6, 2011. Iowa State beat Rockhurst 79-29.

Caitlyn Diimig

For every game this season, coach Bill Fennelly and the rest of the coaching staff pin a bright orange number four onto the lapels of their suit jackets.

The pin represents the four people who were killed in an untimely plane crash flying over Perry County, Ark., including the Oklahoma State women’s basketball coach Kurt Budke and assistant coach Miranda Serna.

At Wednesday’s game in Hilton Coliseum, Fennelly will still pin that number four onto his jacket, but this time Iowa State will be playing Oklahoma State — the team Fennelly’s to which number four pin so proudly pays tribute.

“It’s one of those things that it’s unimaginable that it would happen,” Fennelly said.

Budke wasn’t just another coach in the Big 12 to Fennelly, he was a father of two young boys just like Fennelly.

Off the court, the two didn’t talk basketball. They talked sons.

Fennelly said he remembers Budke talking about how much he enjoyed watching his sons play baseball.

“I told him, ‘The things right now I miss the most in my life are watching Billy play golf in high school and Steven playing high school football and basketball,'” Fennelly said. “And I told him, ‘No matter what, don’t ever miss those.'”

Budke left his wife Shelley, daughter Sara and sons Alex and Brett.

Also killed in the crash were former Oklahoma Sen. Olin Branstetter, who was the pilot, and his wife Paula.

A member of the OSU athletic program sent an email to Fennelly, who said the email requested, “Don’t do anything, we just want to play ball.”

The ISU athletic program will honor this request.

“I think they know that everybody is sad about what happened and it’s an unfortunate event and I think being reminded of it a lot is really hard,” said junior Anna Prins.

Jim Littell is the newly appointed coach of Oklahoma State.

“I think they’re probably playing with a unique level of energy and emotion that most of us can’t get our teams to do and they’re playing for the love of the game,” Fennelly said of the OSU players.

Sophomore Hallie Christofferson, who remembers Budke on the sidelines in his orange blazer, said the team wants to play hard against Oklahoma State like it played against Texas A&M on Sunday.

“I think our guards are really going to have to step in and play one of their best defensive games again like they have in the past,” Christofferson said.