This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
The waking world was met by the shocking news that Oklahoma State athletics has suffered another tragic plane crash. Women's basketball coach Kurt Budke and assistant Miranda Serna were killed along with two others when their single-engine plane crashed in Central Arkansas, multiple outlets have reported.
The news is having serious reprecussions in Utah, as Cowgirls commit Brittney Martin of Syracuse High School learned of the news this morning. A former assistant coach on the basketball team heard the news and immediately pulled her out of class.
Martin told her club coach Mary Waters, who runs the Utah Flight program, that she was not ready to speak to the media. But Waters said Martin, who was recruited by Serna and developed a close relationship with both coaches, was reeling from the news.
"The hardest thing is the closeness, because Coach Serna genuinely cared about Brittney and her family," Waters said. "Miranda was like a sister to her, and she always stayed in touch with her parents, her grandma, everyone. And obviously Coach Budke was another reason she wanted to go to Oklahoma State. It goes way beyond basketball for the family."
Waters said the loss of the coaches was all the more surreal after Martin received text messages from Serna the night before the plane took off. Serna was reminding her to keep her grades up.
The crash is the second Oklahoma State has endured in the last decade after 10 people associated with the men's basketball program died in a plane crash in January of 2001. Budke had turned around the Cowgirls program and was just beginning his 7th year as head coach, and Serna was a 7th-year assistant as well.
When Martin signed a National Letter of Intent last week to attend Oklahoma State, it was seen as a big moment for both Utah high school basketball and the Cowgirls program. Martin, one of the highest-rated players to ever come out of the Beehive State, was bringing her talents to a program that had never had a recruit ranked as highly as her.
As Martin and her family slowly recover from the news of the tragedy, Waters said she was reaching out to other Utah Flight players and their families to help create a web of support. Waters said she is looking into when services will be held and might go to Stillwater with Martin.
"I hope Brittney understands the community is supporting her," Waters said. "She's been with us since sixth grade, and she's family to us. It's been a rough go for her and her family, but everyone is wishing her well."