Yesterday was a difficult day for many women's basketball coaches around the country. We were all shocked to hear of the the plane crash that killed Oklahoma State Women's Basketball Coach Kurt Budke and one of his Assistant Coaches Miranda Serna. Our staff too was impacted by this news. Although we compete against one another, in this business, we also spend a lot of time getting to know each other through the numerous days we spend out recruiting. And when news like this hits, you immediately think about the games in which we coached against one another, the longs days together while recruiting during July or maybe the meal you shared while out recruiting.
For me personally I immediately thought of how good Kurt Budke had been to me as a coach. Kurt Budke was the head coach at Trinity Valley Junior College in Athens, TX when I first got to know him. I was a 24 year old Division II assistant coach at Missouri Western. At the time Budke had the most dominating junior college team in the nation with no less than 10 - 12 high level Division I athletes in his program. While at Missouri Western I made it a habit (that continued when I moved to Arkansas State) every year to visit Trinity Valley no less than 5 times a year (the maximum number allowed by the NCAA). Here I was, a young assistant coach at a Division II school coming on campus to visit the most powerful junior college head coach in the nation (while nearly every Division I program in the country was also flocking to the TVCC campus) and guess what . . . Budke treated me like I was the most important coach in the business. Kurt Budke did not have to take time for me and trust me there were and still are coaches out there that would not have given me the time of day. Every time I visited campus or went to one of their games he made time for me.
That is what I have always appreciated about Coach Budke and now what I will always remember. I consider us friends now but what is more impressive is that when I was just trying to get started in this business he treated me as though I was an equal and a friend. Nothing can change what has taken place but yesterday's tragedy reminded me that there need to be more Kurt Budke's in our business. We all need to follow his lead and treat all people fairly and respectfully regardless of whether they can "do anything for us". It's easy to treat people nicely when there is an agenda or motive but in Budke's case he simply treated all people this way.