By Ron Holt
Stillwater News Press
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Life’s journey isn’t always fair.
That’s a painful lesson Stillwater High senior Brett Budke has learned at too young of an age.
Budke, a starter on Stillwater’s basketball team, carried lofty team and personal goals into his final hoops season. He was averaging 11.8 points per game before being victimized again by injury. He missed his sophomore season with a torn ACL and now his senior season is in jeopardy.
After injuring a kneecap against Bishop McGuinness earlier this season, Budke returned to help SHS reach the finals of the recent Shawnee Tournament. That’s when things changed.
“It was our third game in the tournament and I thought my legs were tired. I came off a screen and it buckled on me. My knee cap popped out,” said Budke, the son of Shelly and the late Kurt Budke. “I thought I was done. … I was absolutely devastated.”
The Pioneers and some good news lifted his spirits as SHS upset Edmond Santa Fe after the tourney.
“After they beat Santa Fe it picked me up,” he said. “It made it easier and finding out I might be able to come back helped. … Just being around these guys picked me up. I’m working to get my quad stronger and working on my flexibility. I’m shooting to play at regionals but if not then I’ll shoot for Area.”
Tuesday night is Senior Night for the Stillwater basketball teams as Ponca City heads to town. It’s always an emotional time but it will be more so for Budke since he won’t play.
“Knowing that I’m not going to play in this gym again definitely bothers me. I love this place, I love playing on that court in front of everybody. But, I’ve had enough time to accept that I’m not going to play,” added Budke, who plans to attend Oklahoma State and hopes to work with the men’s basketball team in some capacity.
As emotional as the injury situation has been, Budke has experienced worse. When he and his family walk onto the court tonight his dad, the Cowgirl basketball head coach who died in a plane crash during a recruiting trip Nov. 17, 2011, won’t be at his side.
“He’s always on my mind. I’ve never gone a day, or even an hour, without thinking about him,” said Budke, who plans to coach in the future. “Obviously when I walk onto the court with my family there will be a big gap. But, I know he’ll be there with me. I feel like he’s proud of me. … My mom has told me that he is.
“It’s not easy but I guess it’s a lesson that will help me through the rest of my life since I’ve faced tougher adversity at a younger age than some older people have. I’ll get through it the best I can.”
Ron Holt is a guest columnist for The Stillwater News Press. Holt was a sports editor for The News Press for nearly 30 years and still resides in Stillwater.