The tragedy involving Oklahoma State women’s basketball has given University of Central Arkansas Sugar Bear coach Matt Daniel a new perspective.
Daniel, who was formerly an assistant at the University of Missouri, knew Kurt Budke and his assistant, Miranda Serna, well from his days in the Big 12 and coming across the two regularly on the recruiting trail.
The two OSU coaches were killed Thursday after the crash of a single-engine aircraft in a remote, hilly section of Perry County. OSU officials said they were returning to Stillwater after a recruiting trip.
"I’ve got an assistant (Caronica Randle) in tears right now," Daniel said Friday morning. "She knew Miranda really well."
Budke. 50, who had been the coach of the Cowgirls since 2005, and Serna, who had been his assistant for seven years at Louisiana Tech and OSU, provided a reminder of the ramifications to all coaches who travel on small aircraft.
"Caronica and I were on a single-engine plane flying to Birmingham two weeks ago; that’s sobering," Daniel said. "It puts things into perspective. Here we are worrying about wins and losses and the things we should be concerned about are affecting lives and living our lives to the fullest each day. We hurt for Oklahoma State and those families."
Budke had three children.
Daniel, who was married last summer, said the family situation affected him in a new way.
"Before the summer, I didn’t have a whole lot of concern for my own well-being, but now that I’m married, I have a little perspective of what those families are going through," he said. "Those people are not in recovery with the families wondering if they were gonna make it and having time to deal with that. They are just gone. Gone like that. It’s breathtaking. I can’t begin to imagine the devastation that has taken place with those families."
Daniel said he had good memories of his association with Budke and Serna.
"Kurt was a worker, always trying to find an edge and he worked tremendously hard to find that edge," Daniel said. "Miranda had a great personality, never met a stranger."
Daniel noted that Oklahoma State recently had a memorial service for the 10-year anniversary of another fatal airplane crash that killed 10 members of the OSU men’s team and staff in Colorado.
"The whole situation is hard to put into words," he said. "It teaches all of us to appreciate and enjoy life and the people around us every day because it can be taken away from us so quickly."