The Oklahoma State University women's basketball team not only won a WNIT Championship this season, but it also has been awarded the inaugural ‘Together We R' Team Award.
The award that is presented by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association and Russell Athletics, honors a team that has strived to succeed in the face of adversity, overcoming extraordinary circumstances such as an unforeseen team crisis, barrier or unfortunate situation that caused extra stress.
OSU received the award after their submission video received the most fan votes with 6,000 views and 400 ‘likes' as well as one additional vote when the selection committee met to determine the winner.
The Cowgirls were faced with a season of challenges after losing head coach Kurt Budke, assistant coach Miranda Serna and two of its biggest fans Olin and Paula Branstetter in a plane crash on November 17, 2011.
Since then, the team bonded together under the leadership of Assistant Coach Jim Littell who assumed the head coaching duties for the Cowgirls.
Not only did Littell and the Cowgirls earn big wins over rival Oklahoma and the previous champions at Texas A&M, but they also won the WNIT Championship for the first time in school history.
"It's unfortunate that everyone associated with the Oklahoma State University program experienced such a tragedy. However, the determination and perseverance of the Oklahoma State Cowgirls is a perfect demonstration of what one can overcome when working together as a team," said RUSSELL ATHLETIC Executive Vice President Gary Barfield. "Everyone associated with the Cowgirls program -- coaches, players, administration, family, friends, alumni and fans -- came together to ensure that this team had the support it needed to continue. It's a pleasure to recognize Oklahoma State University with the ‘Together We R' Award. "
The tragedy marked the second time in just a decade that Oklahoma State basketball lost members of its family in a plane crash. On January 27, 2001, the lives of 10 members of the men's basketball team and staff were lost when a plane that was returning from Colorado crashed in a field near Byers, Colorado.
"The Cowgirl nation and Oklahoma State family have been through so much and so many emotions with this unfortunate tragedy," said WBCA CEO Beth Bass. "I think it is special that Jim and OSU were selected by his peers as an example of what coaching is all about – teamwork no matter what, sticking together as a team and family, even through the worst of circumstances."
OSU was presented with the award at the second annual WBCA Awards Show.