The State Senate honored the Oklahoma State University Cowgirls Basketball Team Thursday for their outstanding 2012 season capped by winning the Women's National Invitation Tournament for the first time in school history. A resolution was approved congratulating the team for their courage and perseverance following the tragic plane crash involving head coach Kurt Budke and assistant coach Miranda Serna along with OSU alumni, pilot and former Oklahoma State Senator Olin Branstetter and his wife, Paula on November 17, 2011. Senate Concurrent Resolution 37 was authored by former OSU President Sen. Jim Halligan and OSU alum Sen. Eddie Fields.
"After everything this team has gone through in the last six months, these ladies showed tremendous heart and courage throughout the season and they are to be commended," said Halligan, R-Stillwater. "Their dedication and perseverance is an amazing tribute to the memories of our lost OSU family members."
The Cowgirls promised to pay honor to those who died and fulfilled that promise by persevering in 2012 under the direction of assistant coach Jim Littell with a 22-12 record. The team landed a spot in the Women's National Invitation Tournament, which was a school record being the sixth straight year the program had competed in postseason play. They won the tournament by defeating James Madison 75-68 in Stillwater.
OSU alum Gov. Mary Fallin attended the ceremony to congratulate and praise the team for their outstanding season.
"As I think about the terrible tragedy that hit our Oklahoma family and certainly our OSU family, it reminds me of a profile in courage. These Cowgirls, coaches and support staff reached deep inside their hearts and displayed the courage and resiliency during a trying time that has made Oklahoma so famous,” said Fallin. “It's been a very difficult time with the loss of coaches Serna, Budke and the Branstetters, but this team has made the university and our entire state so proud by winning the WNIT and they continue to be an inspiration for all of Oklahoma and the nation."
After the reading of the resolution, Coach Jim Littell also addressed the Senate.
"We are so proud of these young ladies, coaches and support staff that have shown great resiliency and great courage throughout the year. In November, we decided to pay honor, and I think the way they finished the season they definitely did pay honor. I've coached 34 years, and I don't know if I've ever been more proud of a group of young ladies than this group," said Littell. "We are extremely appreciative of this wonderful recognition by Senators Halligan and Fields and the entire Oklahoma Senate. This is a special honor for all of us."
The OSU women's basketball program was honored by RUSSELL ATHLETIC and the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) receiving the inaugural RUSSELL ATHLETIC "Together We R" Team Award, which honors programs that have striven to succeed in the face of adversity, overcoming extraordinary circumstances.
"These ladies didn't let this tragedy pull them apart instead it made them stronger. They showed the nation what true courage and spirit is, and what can be achieved through strong teamwork," said Fields, R-Wynona. "We are extremely proud of our Cowgirls and wish them the best in their future endeavors."
OSU President Burns Hargis also attended the ceremony and praised the team and said the school appreciated everyone's support and encouragement this season.
"This whole team showed determination and persistence that we can all be inspired by. It was a very tough time, and they did it," said Hargis. "I'm so proud of this team. Nothing would have made Kurt and Miranda prouder and happier than what this team has done. We have appreciated all of your support, all the encouragement, all the prayers because this is one great group of people and we're very proud of them."