By Richard Tripp
For the Las Vegas Optic
Back in 2011, on a November Thursday evening, tragedy struck the community of Mora. It also struck the campus of Oklahoma State University as well as the hearts of many basketball coaches and fans alike.
While returning from a recruiting trip for the Oklahoma State women’s basketball program, Mora native and assistant coach Miranda Serna and head coach Kurt Budke were killed in a plane crash in Perry County, Ark.
To say the small community of Mora was in shock would be an understatement.
Serna was in her seventh year as an assistant coach at the home of the OSU Cowboys, a member of the Big 12.
While at Mora, Serna played for Albert Martinez before moving to Albuquerque and finishing her playing days at Eldorado High School, where she played for legendary coach Don Flanagan, graduating in 1993. The Golden Eagles defeated Albuquerque 23-5 to win the Class 4A state basketball championship, and the year before beat Clovis 46-43.
While a member of the Rangerettes, she played in the 1991 state championship, only to see the Rangerettes fall to Navajo Academy.
Upon high school graduation, Serna attended Trinity Valley Community College, where she helped lead the team to the NJCCA national championship in 1996. She went on to finish her playing career at Houston before entering the coaching arena.
As a tribute, Serna’s cousin, and Bakersfield College coach and former Ranger Aaron Chavez, along with her former assistant coach and middle school coach at Mora, Jeanie Abeyta, started the Miranda Serna Memorial Basketball Camp in 2012. The camp is designed to honor her memory by awarding two Mora graduates with scholarships as well as stressing the fundamentals of basketball and encouraging players to have fun while learning.
In the inaugural camp, Brianna Abeyta and Angel Valencia were the recipients, and this past year’s scholarship honorees were Alonzo Chavez and Lorenzo Chavez. Each scholarship is worth $500, and students may attend the school of their choice.
Having drawn plenty of participant interest early on like last year’s did, this year’s camp is already full. The events of the camp are July 15-17, from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at the Joseph Montoya Gym, home of the Rangers and Rangerettes. Campers will receive prizes as well as commemorative T-shirts.
Volunteer camp workers include Jeanie Abeyta, Aaron Chavez, Andres Valdez, Joesphine Salcido, David Salcido, Meredith Romero, J.B. Olivas and Lorenzo Chavez.
All proceeds go toward the scholarship fund and donations are welcome. Those wishing to donate can contact Jeanie Abeyta at 575-387-2078. For your donation, you will receive a Miranda Serna Memorial Basketball Camp T-shirt.