By Caleb Bailey, Sports Editor
If there is one college town that has been struck with an abundance of tragedy in the last two decades, it is certainly Stillwater, Oklahoma. The Oklahoma State Cowboys and their fan base have experienced a number of tragedies in the past fifteen years and what happened during Saturday’s homecoming parade was nothing short of a disaster.
A woman believed to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol collided with a group of bystanders during the team’s homecoming parade. The initial count of deaths and injuries was at 2 and 20, but as the day moved on, the numbers increased.
There were 4 reported deaths and 47 injured by the end of the day, with 8 of those in critical condition. This was not, however, the first time Oklahoma State has suffered a horrendous tragedy.
Members of the Oklahoma State men’s basketball teams and their broadcasters were flying home from Boulder, Colorado during a snowstorm Jan. 27, 2001. Pilots soon lost control and the plane crashed, killing all ten passengers on the plane.
The Cowboys erected a memorial to the players outside Gallaher-Iba Arena following the incident, entitled “Remembering the Ten.” However, less than a year later, they once again faced tragedy.
The Cowgirls basketball team mourned the loss of head and assistant coaches Kurt Budke and Miranda Serna when they suffered a plane crash while riding with former Oklahoma State Senator Olin Bransetter Nov. 17, 2011.
The university was rocked by the news and fans wore special ribbons to the football game the next day. The Cowgirls cancelled the two games following the incident before assistant coach Jim Littell would take over as interim head coach.
The team went 21-12 that year and won the WNIT Championship under Littell. He has since led the team to four straight 20-win seasons and three straight NCAA Tournament appearances.
Oklahoma State knows tragedy better than almost any other program in the country. They know that they must rally behind the football team as they rally around the city as well.
The Cowboys experienced a bit of redemption as they defeated Kansas 58-10. They are now 7-0 and are ranked just outside of the Associated Press top ten and also have a chance to win the Big 12 conference championship.
If there were ever a time for the city to rally around the Cowboys, it would certainly be now.