The most important game played at Oklahoma State University was not played on a Saturday night. It wasn’t played for a conf championship, or even a trophy. It was played for 10 men. And their friends, their family, the student body, and our state. It was a game versus Missouri on Monday, Feb 5th 2001.
January 27th 2001 was the saddest day in my life. And in the lives of so many others. I woke up that morning a grad student at CU. I was so excited to see my beloved Cowboys on campus to play the Buffs. I sat proudly on the 3rd row in the student section, wearing orange, and being harassed mildly by other students and fans. CU wasn’t a hardcore hoops fan base and they let me off easy.
The game was a let down though. oSu trailed throughout. I’ll never forget oSu (pretty sure Andre Williams) had a put-back slam midway through the second half that led to a timeout. Nate Fleming jumped off the bench to cheer on his teammates as they huddled up on the sideline. I’ll never forget the enthusiasm and spring in Nate’s step as he came off his seat to encourage the team. It was exactly who Nate was. I don’t know why I even noticed, but it will never leave me.
The rest of the game, that day, and the days that followed are a blur. It was cold and snowing out as I was walking out of my apartment with my girlfriend. My phone rang. Caller ID said it was my dad. I am sure he wanted to talk about how bad the game went. I let it click over to the answering machine (2001!) and was standing at the door. That’s when he said “call me”. I knew something was wrong. He had called after he saw the news on TV in OKC. Nobody knew for sure who was on the plane, but it was not hard to guess when they said it was the prop plane. About an hour or two later ESPNews confirmed this was more than a nightmare. They were all gone.
Most fans didn’t have class with Dan, Nate, or Jared. Nate and I went to the same high school. His parents knew my parents. My sister played lots of tennis with Nate. I had never had a friend or even acquaintance pass away unexpectedly. But they were all gone.
January 27th is more than a day to remember the ten. For me it’s a time to also remember what we are blessed with. And to remember that tomorrow is not guaranteed.
So about that game…in front of a standing room only GIA, oSu beat Missouri 69-66. oSu needed a win that night more than any other night in its history. The crowd willed the team to a win. Eddie Sutton coached every last
play he could. Terrence Crawford had asteal and dunk that is still the loudest I have ever heard an oSu sporting event. The only thing that could have been better was a proper court storming for theplayers. Let today be another day we will remember.
God bless. And Go Pokes.
oSu Class is 2000