live: Demonstrators rally in OKC for fourth nightbreaking: Putnam City Schools announces 2020 Athletic Hall of Fame classThe Latest: Biden and Trump win Indiana's primary

NewsOK: Oklahoma City News, Sports, Weather & Entertainment

Kurt Budke: A Hope for Healing in the Hall of Fame

The Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame has found a place for Kurt Budke.

Good deal.

Budke, as you know, was the Oklahoma State women’s basketball coach who was killed in a plane crash in Nov. 2011. He and longtime assistant Miranda Serna were on their way from Stillwater to Little Rock to scout a couple of recruits. Their small plane went down in route, killing them as well as longtime OSU boosters Olin and Paula Branstetter.

Every day since has been tough for Budke’s wife, Shelley, and three kids, all of whom remained in Stillwater in the months and years after the crash.

I had the honor of being the first reporter to interview Shelley after the crash. Nearly a year later, we sat at her kitchen table and talked about that night and about the months since. It was one of the most painful interviews that I’ve ever done. Shelley, always private and in the background, was the yin to her husband’s bright-orange-blazer-wearing yang. But they were so in love that you could see that the pain of losing him was still very raw for her.

She held it together better than I did.

Re-reading that story even now chokes me up.

So, that’s why I hope Kurt’s induction into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame helps in the healing. I hope for Shelley and the kids that the pomp and circumstance in Knoxville, Tenn., is all about celebrating him. I hope that it’s a happy occasion. I hope that it’s a joyous time.

I know there will be moments of sadness. How could there not be? But the Budkes deserve to celebrate what Kurt meant to the game and more importantly, what he meant to them.

To read Jenni Carlson’s column on Shelley Budke, click here: http://newsok.com/oklahoma-state-plane-crash-anniversary-how-kurt-budkes-win-the-next-five-minutes-approach-sustains-his-widow/article/3729662

Jenni Carlson

Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football... Read more ›

Comments