Enthusiastic Spectators Coale Recruits OC Students to Cheer for Sooners
Like everyone else at McCasland Field House on Nov. 4, Sherri (Buben 87) Coale heard Oklahoma Christian’s loud, boisterous fan section when the Eagles faced Oklahoma in an exhibition game.
It was impossible not to.
As OC raced to a 41-38 halftime lead and played the Sooners tough before eventually falling 88-76, the Eagles’ fans drowned out not only their counterparts from Oklahoma, but also the OU band.
It also reminded Coale, OU’s women’s basketball coach, of her days as a point guard for the Lady Eagles from 1983 to 1987, which she said was “such a special experience.”
“And it made me proud,” she said, “proud of the tradition of support and encouragement and passion that continues at OC still, and I just wanted to honor that in some way. I want those students to know what a vital role they play in the heartbeat of their institution. It’s a privilege to be a part of the Oklahoma Christian family.”
It’s a family that extends over decades and through generations, which gave Coale an admittedly offbeat idea to bring OC’s students to Norman to cheer on Coale’s Sooners when they hosted second-ranked Duke.
Coale provided the tickets and two buses to transport the OC students to Norman. She also gave each student the same pregame meal she eats – Cheetos and Mountain Dew – and recorded a video message that played in each bus.
At the end of the game, Coale joined the OC students to sing “Hail to Oklahoma Christian,” our school’s alma mater.
She recently returned to speak at Oklahoma Christian and personally thank the students who traveled to Norman on an icy December day to support her.
“It’s cool for our students to get to do that,” said Neil Arter (90), OC’s vice president for student life. “There’s not a person at OC who doesn’t know about Coach Coale. It’s great for our students to honor her that way.”
Coale is in her 19th season at OU, but she’s always remained close to her alma mater. She’s made it a regular practice to schedule the Lady Eagles for exhibition games, and when OC applied for NCAA Division II membership in 2012, Coale narrated the video the university sent to the NCAA membership committee.
Ben Meaders, a senior from Portland, Oregon, has led a revival of the student fan section at OC games, returning the section to one of the rowdiest in small-college circles.
“It’s a win-win for everyone,” Meaders said. “OU gets to say, ‘Our coach is sticking to her roots and helping out her alma mater.’ For us, it’s a validation of what we’ve been doing. The biggest school in the state saw our work at that game and said we need to get that here. They reached out and asked us for help.”
View more stories from the Summer 2014 issue of Vision magazine.