CONWAY, Ark. (KTHV) - The loss of two Oklahoma State University coaches is hitting home for those working in the world of women's college basketball, including some coaches here in Central Arkansas.
We talked with Matt Daniel. He's the Head Coach for the University of Central Arkansas Women's basketball team.
He would often see the two OSU coaches in the summer time in gyms across the country on recruiting trips. And Daniel says that Coach Kurt Budke and Assistant Coach Miranda Serna are two people who will be hard to forget.
It's Friday night basketball practice for the UCA Sugar Bears. Head Coach Matt Daniel shouts out plays as usual but on this night with a heavy heart.
"There's no hospital visit, no coma, they're just gone and you'll never get to speak to them again and it's quite shocking," Daniel said.
It's shock over the sudden deaths of women's basketball coach Kurt Budke and Assistant Coach Miranda Serna from Oklahoma State University.
"I can see their faces very clearly in the gym in the summer time and just the brightness whether it's the orange (uniforms) or their smile, those are the things that stick out for me," Daniel said.
They're fond memories from road trip recruiting. But Daniel also competed against these two while coaching in 'The Big 12" before UCA. And Butke kept everyone on their toes.
"He's a guy who was always looking for a competitive edge and when he walked into a gym he had a presence," Daniel said.
Serna added a sense of hardworking humanity.
"Never met a stranger, she was never afraid to turn over a rock to look for a player," Daniel said.
On the court Friday, Daniel started practice with this tough news. He says there's an important life lesson to share.
"That it's the reality of the situation that it can be taken from us at any moment and that's one of the things that's very hard to grasp now is that they are gone," Daniel said.
But they are not forgotten.
We also talked to Assistant Coach Caronica Randle about the OSU coaches. She shared a special bond with Serna, working at the assistant level. She was too emotional to do an on-camera interview, but recalls Serna as an interactive coach, never sitting on the bench all the time.
Daniel also told us that travelling like the OSU coaches were in small, private planes is becoming more and more typical.
In fact, he and Randle were on such a plane about two weeks on a trip to Birmingham. Daniel says with the time constraints facing college coaches these days, like balancing families and careers, taking a private plane offers a more efficient way to do their business.