(SALINA,Kan.) — A beloved coach and Kansas native dies in a plane crash. Now family and friends remember Kurt Budke, a man who they say lived his dreams and gave others strength. Budke was head women's basketball coach at Oklahoma State University. He,assistant coach Miranda Serna and two others were on a recruiting trip in central Arkansas when their single engine plane went down overnight. All four were killed.
Budke grew up playing basketball on his driveway in Salina. Friends say he eventually became a local legend. He was an instrumental piece on the Salina Sacred Heart team that won the 3A state title in 1979. Now some of his teammates say they're numb over the untimely passing of their friend. Michael Martin recalls the days growing up when he would watch Budke shoot shot after shot. He says Budke was a hard worker on the court, a jokester off of it and most importantly a good friend.
The current head coach of Sacred Heart, Pat Martin looks back at the days when he was teams water boy. He says that's when he starting looking up to Budke. "Of course back then I wanted to be a star like him, it's awful tough," Martin said. He stressed the importance of making sure Budke is honored for the rest of the season inside the gym he made so famous. "We will dedicate the rest of the season to him and retire the jersey number 25 that he wore. But what a tough time for family friends and the community," Martin said.
After his high school days, Budke went on to coach, starting in 1984 as a graduate assistant at Topeka's Washburn University. From there he became assistant at Friends University. His next jobs took him to several community colleges. His first job with an NCAA division one school was Louisiana Tech, before took over at OSU.
Budke leaves behind a wife and three children. The other two killed in the crash were a former Oklahoma State senator and his wife, both were pilots. Investigators haven't said who was flying the plane.