Honestly, I can’t even write this post without a shaky feeling overtaking my gut while my eyes begin to mist.
It’s been a hell of a year. And yet, somehow the Oklahoma State University (OSU) women’s basketball team just completed what can only be described as a feature film finish.
In spite of losing their lead coach and their mentor assistant coach in a plane crash ten years after the OSU men’s team experienced their own plane crash, the women’s team won the NIT championship against James Madison University (JMU) in a 75-68 gloriously memorial-ous contest on Saturday.
And, everyone in the community did everything they could to pack that house for the team.
Case in point? OSU men’s basketball coach Travis Ward announced on Thursday before the game that he had purchased $2000 worth of $5 tickets for any student to attend the game who couldn’t afford to go. Hours later, another donor added another 30% to that number, inspired by Ward’s leadership.
The efforts of everyone who made up the record attendance for the year were not in vain.
When the game was over and victorious shock worked itself through the entire stadium, the game’s emotional climax came to an apex when the now-deceased head coach Budke’s widow, Shelley, was invited to be the last up the ladder to cut down the net.
Okay, now I’m crying. I swear to Pistol Pete’s six-shooter, I can’t write about this incident without feeling grateful, sad, elated and undone. And if a clinical instructor feels that way, then what in world do the players and their now head coach Jim Littell now feel?
All I can imagine is: Amazing. Weirded out. Sad. Ecstatic.
And maybe…satisfied. They gave an honorable gift back to a hurting community, and to themselves.
You go, OSU Cowgirls BBall team. You did it…and I thank you. We all do.