Boyd Street Magazine March 2022

Page 1

The REF & March Madness

68-Team Giveaway

Normanite in the Spotlight

Carol Bauman

Dale K. Graham

Veterans Foundation

March 2022 • Issue 3 • Volume 21


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Dale K. Graham

20 Veterans Foundation

Lindsay Cuomo


Mark Doescher

by Rae Lynn Payton Local foundation grows to meet the ever-evolving needs of our valued veterans.


Callie Collins | Lindsay Cuomo Kathy Hallren | Josh Helmer Shannon Hudzinski | Chelsey Kraft Rae Lynn Payton | Chris Plank


A Culture of Kindness

24 by Lindsay Cuomo

School counselors promote Kindness Week across the district.


Haley Gauley - Trevor Laffoon - Perry Spencer -


Casey Vinyard

Normanite in the Spotlight:

28 Carol Bauman

by Lindsay Cuomo A native Normanite spurns coastal living for farm life.


34 by Callie Collins


Wilhite family honors son’s memory, raises funds for legacy scholarship.

68-Team Giveaway

38 by Josh Helmer

The REF is once again hosting their giant March Madness team giveaway.

Any articles, artwork or graphics created by Boyd Street Magazine or its contributors are sole property of Boyd Street Magazine and cannot be reproduced for any reason without permission. Any opinions expressed in Boyd Street are not necessarily that of Boyd Street management.

Spotlights 15 Community Calendar What’s Happening

Just a Kid From Norman 2.0

42 by Chris Plank


Former Norman Tiger Kelbie Washington shines in her freshman season for the resurgent Sooners.

59 Earning High Marks

Norman Regional Hospital:

Women’s Gymnastics

50 by Mark Doescher

Images from Women’s Gymnastics vs Texas Women’s University.


Cheer Champions

54 by Josh Helmer

by Lindsay Cuomo

62 Kala Stilwell

Service Spotlight:

by Bill Moakley

68 Taking Out a Home Loan in 2022 All You Need to Know About

Timberwolves hard work pays off with NCA title.

by Shannon Hudzinski - OUFCU

What’s Eating Norman:

76 Recess Taco Park

72 by Kathy Hallren - Joe’s Wines & Spirits Sweet Moscato

by Mark Doescher Nobody’s ever sad when eating a taco.

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Dale K. Graham Ve te r a ns Fou n dat i o n

Local foundation grows to meet the ever-evolving needs of our valued veterans


he Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation in Norman is one of only around a hundred veteran service organizations in the country that are accredited with the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA), out of thousands more that serve veterans. However, they do not receive dollars from the federal government and instead rely solely on donations and private funding. Their primary mission is to represent the nearly 16,000 veterans that they serve, assisting with the complicated process of filing claims and gaining access to the resources that veterans need and are entitled to. “We help you apply and help you in a way that should make your success rate the highest possible based on your conditions,” shared Jon Foti, chief executive officer of Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation. The foundation found an increasing need for digital technology and space, especially amidst the era of Covid and recently relocated to a new 11,000 squarefoot facility that opened in January at 1233 W. Lindsey Street in Norman. Eight employees are on staff with over 100 volunteers available to serve the growing needs of veterans. With many volunteers and veterans both being at a vulner-

20 | March 2022

able age to suffer from the virus, safety was a concern for both parties. Their new unique computer lab is unlike any other in the state and holds 30 secure computers with scanners. This gives veterans a safe space and the ability to complete applications for VA claims, GI bill benefits and VA home loans, to name a few. The space and technological upgrades keep both applicants’ and volunteers’ safety a priority but also makes the process more efficient. Also, veterans can now submit claims from the comfort of their homes utilizing their website’s secure network. “We want to make sure that technology can no longer be a barrier between veterans and the benefits for which they are entitled to,” shared Foti. As an accredited organization, they can serve veterans from around the world. “Our limit is our capacity,” Foti said. “We have more veterans than I have volunteers to help them. We have more claims that need to be submitted than hours in the day. Our organization, like others, is slowly trying to grow and serve more veterans over time and serve them at an extremely high standard.”

BY: RAE LYNN PAYTON Additionally, laws are enacted year after year by Congress to support veterans. However, previous laws aren’t taken away or amended to work well with new laws. In turn, this complicated system with changed policies makes the laws more intricate and complicated each year. This makes the system incredibly hard to understand and interpret when veterans are navigating the process of applying for their benefits. Unfortunately, receiving benefits as a veteran, whether for healthcare or compensation, is an extremely difficult process. Going to the hospital immediately when an issue arises isn’t an option. First, a veteran must go through the claims process. Then, he or she has to reach out separately to the veteran’s hospital to apply for health benefits. Applications can take months to over a year before completion. “They need help but feel very far away from help because, in reality, they are,” Foti explained. The Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation has trained volunteers and staff that help veterans navigate the difficult and bureaucratic process. Little mistakes such as a missed entry, wrong date, etc. can halt or pause an application. “We’re working with 2,000 veterans right now. That’s a small fraction in Oklahoma,” Foti said. “If you put all of the veteran organizations together in Oklahoma on any given day, we couldn’t possibly meet all of their needs. There just isn’t enough manpower.

The organization’s founder, Dale K. Graham, is a Vietnam veteran that was one of the millions that came home from Vietnam and found the reception from US citizens anything but warm. He struggled with mistreatment, disabilities and with receiving help from the Department of Veterans Affairs. However, he learned about the VA system and the claims process and began helping his peers over the next 30 years submit claims to the DVA. He created his own nonprofit in 2015 and has since represented thousands of veterans. “The VA system is very hard to understand. I’ve been doing this with veterans since the end of 2019 after leaving the army in 2018,” Foti said. “Being a veteran doesn’t help you understand the policy and laws around being a veteran. I still learn something new every day.” There are 17 million veterans in America and about 330,000 veterans in the state of Oklahoma. The Department of Veterans Affairs knows that they have about 250 billion dollars annually allocated to split between three completely different organizations with different policies and directors, including the DVA. This separation and lack of communication between the organizations often affects veterans by creating an adversarial process for veterans to receive benefits that they are legally entitled to receive.

“We help veterans with claims, but we can also help them find the sustainable resources that they need in the meantime. This includes resources to food, housing and benefits. We can connect you to programs in Oklahoma that serve veterans.” Foti encourages veterans that need any of these resources to reach out by email, Facebook or to come into the foundation. Veterans can also access their website at, which is also set up for donations. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, Foti encourages you to contact their organization. “We are in need of volunteers more than ever and we give you the necessary training so that you can sit down with a veteran in your community and change lives in positive ways,” he said. Normanites can also participate in their annual golf tournament fundraiser taking place this year near Veterans Day. – BS

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A C u l t u re of Ki n dn ess

School counselors promote Kindness Week across the district


itrena Hime is in her first year as the director of counseling and advocacy with Norman Public Schools and she is passionate about creating “opportunities for all students that support the whole child and best set them up for success.” Hime is not new to education, however. She has been a school counselor and an assistant principal for many years. This year, Hime, in her new role, challenged school counselors at each of the districts to set aside a week dedicated to kindness and friendship and she said the response has been very positive. “All of the schools and different student organizations have really taken on Kindness Week,” she said. “They have done some really great things around the district like dress-up days, chalk art and food drives.” While a heartfelt Kindness Week has been a lot of fun, Hime has a bigger picture in the works. “We are laying a foundation for building hope,” she shared. “When you give students that might be struggling a goal, you build this momentum toward success. Hope builds confidence.” On the heels of a very challenging year and state testing quickly approaching, Hime said she is focused on flipping the script from reactionary to forward-thinking.

24 | March 2022

“School counselors are the glue that holds a school together,” she explained. “I want to have a strong system in place that is proactive, instead of just responding. A student-centered system, working with all stakeholders, to make sure every student has what they need to succeed.” Trevor Graham, school counselor at Washington Elementary, said that he is getting back to the basics at his school. “The way I view my position at Washington is Maslow 101,” he said. “To help my students meet their needs so they can achieve their goals. Maybe that’s a backpack of food, clothing or something else like teaching them to handle their emotions, time management and interpersonal skills.” “Our younger kids have not been around other kids outside their families as much. It’s been hard transiting to a school schedule and getting along with their peers,” he added. Kindness Week helped elevate that message. “I challenged the kids to think about ways to show kindness and ask themselves ‘have you filled a bucket today,” Graham said.

BY: LINDSAY CUOMO Heather Murphy has seen a similar situation at Adams Elementary. “Kids are coming in with so many things and are dealing with hard things without the skills they need,” she said. Murphy said she is incredibly thankful that a second school counselor was hired at Adams. “There are so many roles that we play. It’s a big job but it’s also very rewarding being a part of these little lives and impacting their future,” she shared. “Since we were able to add a second counselor at our school, now we are not just reaching at-risk or high-need students but all students.” While the American School Counselor Association recommends a ratio of 250-to-1, the ratio in Oklahoma is typically about one counselor to 450 students, which isn’t too far off from the national average of 415-to-1. School counselors aren’t therapists but are educators instead. They teach social and emotional skills and assist families with resources, provide interventions and connect kids to why school is important. While the need for these types of support might be at an all-time high, Hime said this type of learning has always been important. “Having social skills at home and having social skills in a school setting is a completely different thing,” she explained. “We would love for students to just focus on education for 6 hours a day, but we are social beings. “It would be great if we didn’t have to take into account mental health concerns, but kids need emotional support to achieve. If you remove this piece, you remove pathways to learning and a lot of support and resources that families may not have access to otherwise.” In addition to Kindness Weeks, Hime, Graham and Murphy have more initiatives on the horizon such as service clubs, student-to-student mentoring and behavior incentive programs. – BS


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fter growing up in Norman, graduating from Norman High and, eventually, the University of Oklahoma, Carol Bauman had her sights set on a future of coastal living but, instead, she became an unlikely farm girl, further deepening her Sooner roots. “I always wanted to move to the coast, but family and work have kept us here,” Bauman said. “Scott always wanted land and I try to be up for anything. I became an unlikely farm girl at the mercy of Google and Youtube.” Utilizing grit and determination, Carol has worn many hats over the years including mom to five kids, a restauranteur, blogger, community advocate, family care coordinator with Oklahoma Family Network, children’s book author, podcaster and now the chair of The Virtue Center’s capital campaign. She is also a co-founder of Farm Girl Fair, a rustic artisan market experience that was the brainchild of Bauman and her friends, Kim Frakes and Lindsi Niebur. “Farm Girl Fair came from girlfriends talking and from our mutual interests,” she said. “Looking out at our property, I could visualize a fair. It was like that Field of Dreams mentality.” This year, the trio will host their eighth fair on Sunday, Oct. 2, bringing together the community to enjoy talented artisans and a nostalgic day on the farm. “It’s six hours one day out of the year, and yet it’s still so much a part of my every day and so much a part of my heart because it is magical,” Bauman said. Over the life of the fair, the event has donated over $27,000 to local charities. Carol is also planning another fun event, earlier in the

year, on March 24, called Making Magic. Magician Rob Lake, from NBC’s America’s Got Talent, will be wowing guests with his grand illusions all in the benefit of The Virtue Center’s efforts to raise funds to construct a new building. The Virtue Center is Norman based and provides counseling and other resources for individuals and families dealing with substance abuse, compulsive gambling and related mental health issues. “We need a building that honors the work being done inside,” Bauman said. “My dream is that the inside and outside will reflect the care that people that are suffering receive at The Virtue Center. The current building is worn down and unwelcoming. “If we want to smash the stigma surrounding mental health and addiction, we have to ask what message are we sending?” Plans for the 14,000-square-foot treatment center will incorporate trauma-informed design and allow for expanded services, something Bauman says in especially important right now. “I think everybody would agree we’ve suffered so much more than a pandemic. It’s a virus that has reared its head in many forms,” she said. “We will be better off if we stare the future right in the face and know things are going to get worse (in terms of mental health) before they get better. I’d rather be ready.” Utilizing proven research, the design of the new building incorporates elements such as calming color schemes, natural light and plant life to provide a safe space for people struggling with addiction and mental health challenges to heal and thrive. BOYD STREET MAGAZINE | 29

Bauman got involved with The Virtue Center following a family tragedy. “Our ranch hand, who was in recovery, also suffered from a mental illness and he took his life,” she shared. “It was incredibly devastating. I kept telling myself if I had only known about The Virtue Center, I could have gotten help.” Bauman says that with the new building, the center will be able to expand its mental health services, a cause that is very near to her heart. Bauman experienced trauma as a child and struggles with her mental health still today. “I know the challenges people face when asking for help,” she shared. “I want anybody regardless of your status to feel confident in going somewhere to get help but there is so much work to be done there. Nobody is turned away (at The Virtue Center) and adolescents are seen at no charge.” She invites Normanites to learn more about The Virtue Center either by scheduling a tour or tuning into the Hope Ahead podcast which she hosts and then considering contributing to the capital campaign. “This building is not going to happen without money,” she said. “I want people to know that they can be a part of something, that they will be the reason that someone gets help.” As part of a final push, the Mabee Foundation has challenged the center to raise $800,000. If the center meets that challenge, the foundation will match those funds with a grant. In keeping with her many other community advocacy efforts, Bauman is also involved with Mary Abbott Children’s House. She recently shared her story at the annual Coaches Luncheon that the non-profit hosts each fall. She talked about the trauma she experienced as a child and how the Abbott House could have helped her. “Mary Abbott is a cause I believe in because I have endured the same trauma the children they serve have survived,” Bauman shared. “So naturally I have a heart for the work they do. As I started advocating for them and thinking about how my life would have been different had I received those services, I can’t help but wonder.” She wanted to put “a real face to the reality of what is all around us.” “I’ve come to understand that if you yourself haven’t experienced sexual abuse, someone close to you most likely has. Our children need us to speak up for them. For me, it’s so much more natural to tell my story even though it’s super, super painful. I feel strongly that the way to prevent any abuse is to raise awareness and talk about it.” Bauman has also been involved with Oklahoma Blood Institute, Make a Wish, Center for Children and Families and in the adoption community. The Baumans adopted three children from Guatemala, Lauren, age 24, Parker, age 19, and Mason, age 17, and have two biological children, 13-year-old twins Henry and Susie.– BSM 30 | March 2022

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#LoveTheKicker Wilhite family honors son’s memory, raises funds for legacy scholarship


or one local family, their son’s legacy continues through memories, shared anecdotes and a scholarship that will continue to impact student athletes for years to come. Formerly a kicker for Norman North High School, class of 2018, Jackson Reed Wilhite was beloved on and off the football field. He accepted a scholarship to Southwestern Oklahoma State University (SWOSU) and proceeded to play as starting kicker. Jackson passed away suddenly in January 2019 at the age of 19 after an unrecoverable seizure. “On Jan. 30, we got the worst phone call any parent can get,” said Joe Wilhite, Jackson’s father. “It was as terrible as anything could be. There is nothing more that parents want in this situation than to have their kid remembered and to know they helped others and that their life can continue to help others.” Jackson’s best traits continue to be known in the community, including how friendly he was. “Sometimes, I’d lose track of where he was at the stadium because he was talking to so many people,” Joe said. He recalled recognizing his shoes from the stands as he made the rounds with friends and fans before and after games. When wishing Jackson well before a game on Twitter or Facebook, his mother Melinda Wilhite would include the hashtag #LoveTheKicker, which would lead friends, family and followers to similar posts through-

34 | March 2022

out the seasons. During the difficult time following Jackson’s death, she continued using the hashtag online, with its nostalgic recognition of the love surrounding him and his memory. Former classmates and individuals continue to surprise the couple with stories about their son, times when he was kind and went out of his way to help others. His parents recognize that quality as part of his everyday approach to life that will never be forgotten. The concept of “leaving a person better than you had found them” was one Jackson believed in and that carries over with how his family will honor his memory. Setting up a scholarship fund in Jackson’s name is something the family considers a kind of calling, a way to help others in the same spirit he was known for on and off the field. Playing football was something Jackson loved since the sixth grade. The Jackson Wilhite #LoveTheKicker Memorial Scholarship was established through the Oklahoma City Community Foundation (OCCF) in 2019. The scholarship will be awarded on an annual basis to an Oklahoma high school graduate planning to play college football, with first priority given to Norman North or Norman High graduates attending a Division II college to play as a kicker. Fundraising efforts were sidelined by COVID but recently resumed, with the ultimate goal of raising

$100,000. Making a scholarship available to kickers, a position that doesn’t see as many scholarships as others, makes for a fitting tribute to Jackson. Funds raised currently stand at more than $43,000. When it comes to choosing a scholarship recipient, the Wilhites have a minority vote, but their opinions are taken into account by the committee tasked with helping narrow down the list of candidates. “We are so grateful to OCCF and to every person who tells us about Jackson and remembers his kind spirit,” Melinda said. Joe agreed. “People sometimes are hesitant to bring up Jackson with us because they’re afraid it’ll upset us and that is just not the case at all. It’s the total opposite actually. We love hearing from people who knew him and the way he was a friend to everyone,” he said. Brock Singleton, the first person to receive the Jackson Wilhite #LoveTheKicker Memorial Scholarship, plays football for Southern Nazarene University. Jackson was a senior at Norman North when Singleton was a freshman but he recalls knowing him at school, a fact that brings comfort to the Wilhites. The scholarship application deadline is April 1. Interested applicants can find criteria and instructions at To contribute to the scholarship, donate online at – BSM



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6 8-Team G i ve away Join The REF for some March Madness fun


he REF on 1400 AM and 94.7 FM is excited to welcome back the 20th annual 68-Team Giveaway on Monday, March 14 at Buffalo Wild Wings in South Oklahoma City. This event gives listeners an opportunity to have their name drawn for one of the teams competing in the postseason NCAA men’s basketball tournament affectionately referred to as “March Madness.” Depending on how an individual’s team performs in the tournament, great prizes from The REF advertisers are awarded. “The 68-Team Giveaway is an event we look forward to every year,” said The Ref owner Casey Vinyard. “Our radio hosts get together with our callers and listeners to have fun and give away some great prizes. “If you are envisioning an elaborate community office pool, then you have the right idea!” Buffalo Wild Wings is the perfect place to host the event thanks to its spacious complex. Show hosts from KREF will be set up in the bar area atop a stage to announce teams beginning during the 1 p.m. hour of program­ ming. Thanks to Buffalo Wild Wings’ setup, families with kids don’t have to be bashful about joining in on the fun and can nab a team, too. “Buffalo Wild Wings is a great place to host this event,” Vinyard said. “The fun atmosphere provides even more excitement and hype going into the tournament.” KREF program director TJ Perry has been a part of the event since its in­ception back in 2002.

38 | March 2022

“It’s always been a special event,” Perry added. “Regardless of what the prizes have been over the years, the 68-Team Giveaway has become more about the togetherness, about friends getting together.” As the station’s biggest event of the year, he noted the event’s importance to KREF listeners, as well. “It’s the one time of the year that the loyal listeners to the station can all get together. It’s almost like a family re­union,” Perry said. “Many take vaca­ tion days to be there because a lot of it starts in the middle of the day. They don’t want to miss anything. People meet one another and save tables.” Longtime listener and caller Kurt Keeley echoed those sentiments. He is an event regular, and he was lucky enough to win an iPad one year. “It’s my favorite event, just the camaraderie of it,” Keeley said. “I enjoy everybody getting together all in the same place for a couple of hours, all of the on-air talent, hall of fame callers, people you may have never met face to face.” Toby Rowland, host of the “T-Row in the Morning Show” and Voice of the Sooners, said the event has been a beloved tradition and he appreciates the opportunity to engage with listeners and callers. “This is the one time where a significant percentage of listeners are all under the same roof at the same time,” Rowland said. “It’s just fun. Everybody’s excited about the tournament and the brackets being out, so we all get together to figure out who is going to win this thing.” – BSM


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elbie Washington is living her childhood dream. The Norman High School legend is a key cog for an OU Women’s Basketball program that is putting up historic numbers. With an incredible list of accomplishments, the Norman native is setting a solid foundation to the start of her Sooner career. Long before Kelbie was making plays on the court for the Norman Tigers and Oklahoma Sooners, her father was making an impact in the Oklahoma City area as both an athlete and a coach. Robert Washington has been the Moore High School head wrestling coach since 1994. He was also once a four-sport athlete for the Lions where he played baseball, football, wrestling and ran track. In fact, the Washington family is steeped in Oklahoma sports history. “Crystal Robinson, one of the best women’s players in Oklahoma high school basketball history, is my cousin,” Robert Washington said of the family genetics. “Kansas City Royal U L Washington is my uncle… the athletes in our family it runs pretty deep. C.J. Washington played basketball at OU and his sister LaRonda ran track there. It’s a pretty impressive family tree.” In case it is not obvious, Kelbie comes from an incredibly athletic family. Her grandfather even played basketball for Oklahoma City’s Harlem Thrillers. “At first I was a basketball player, too,” Robert said. “I could jump, I could shoot, but I hated having the ball taken away from me. I fouled a lot and fouled out really early. So, I began wrestling at Highland East Junior High and I’ve been picking up people ever since!” With her dad a coaching legend in the sport of wrestling and the growth of girls’ wrestling in high schools across the country, could wrestling have been a possibility for Kelbie? “I had a friend that I was wrestling with, just playing around, and he immediately made me get up and stop,” Kelbie said of her wrestling experience. “(My dad) said you just can’t... you’re not wrestling. I always went to the matches, but for me, I couldn’t do it... couldn’t do it all.” “They were playing around being goofy… they weren’t taking it seriously,” Robert recalled of the incident. “I think Kelbie would have been a good wrestler. At one time they asked if she would do it and I just didn’t think she had the time.” So, with wrestling out of the mix, Kelbie became dedicated to basketball. It was more than just her DNA that helped her embrace the sport.

Photos by: Mark Doescher

“Since I was a little girl, sports were all I knew,” she said. “I was traveling everywhere at 7 years old, traveling to Florida and West Virginia to play hoops. I kind of knew and they knew this was what I wanted to do. “Of course, I played other sports... track, soccer, volleyball... that was for me to do other things and have other opportunities, but basketball was all over my heart. My Dad has been around sports. He played sports at the collegiate level, he knew what it took, and he pushed me every day.” In high school, Kelbie became an instant difference-maker for the Tigers. She got immediate playing time as a freshman and become a key contributor as the starting point guard for the Tigers’ state championship teams during her sophomore and senior seasons.

42 | March 2022




Starring at Norman High School opened the opportunity for Kelbie to commit and sign with the University of Oklahoma. The hometown kid was staying home. “It’s such a blessing. Something I always kind of knew I wanted to do as a little girl,” Kelbie said of being a Sooner. “But I am just happy to play and be in this position and work hard. I’m just happy I’m here with a good support system and my family gets to go to all the games and it is just awesome.” Of her many goals, Kelbie has already checked off a couple of boxes. She won multiple state championships at Norman and has been blessed with the opportunity to play for the University of Oklahoma. “Since I was a little girl, I always wanted to play for my hometown. Now I’m in a position where it almost doesn’t even seem real,” she said. “Am I actually doing this... is this actually happening? I’m just blessed to be in this position with this coaching staff and these amazing girls. “With our record and the things we’re doing this year, it’s amazing. College has been a learning experience with the tempo of basketball and what it means to be a point guard at the collegiate level. It’s a dream come true.”

During her career at Norman, she finished with an 8218 record and won two 6A State Championships including an undefeated 2021 senior season.

But the commitment to Oklahoma did not come without a massive bump in the road. During the summer before Kelbie enrolled at Oklahoma, legendary Oklahoma Coach Sherri Coale retired. After 25 years, Sherri Coale stepped away from the game.

“She’s a legend,” Then Norman head coach Michael Neal said. Neal coached Kelbie all four years while she was a star for the Norman Tigers.

“She told me and everything happens for a reason, but in my mind, I was never going to leave,” Kelbie said of Coale’s sudden retirement. “I always thought Sherri Coale would be my coach, but I always wanted to play for my hometown. “

“There’s only been like a handful of people who’ve had the opportunity to do what Kelbie Washington has done,” he said. “Not only with just winning but with the production and then the leadership behind all these teams that have won and had this success, she’s the foundation of it all.”

“I wanted it to be her decision… it’s (her) four years, not mine,” Robert said. “I want her to enjoy the process. You only do it once. She thought I wanted her to go to OU because I love OU. I just wanted to take care of her if she needed anything.”

During her final season at Norman, Washington averaged 14 points, 4.7 assists and 4.3 steals.

Enter Jenni Baranczyk, the very successful head coach at Drake. As expected, it did not take much to solidify the belief that Kelbie Washington wanted to be a Sooner. Baranczyk immediately connected with Washington and any concern that losing a legend would lead to losing Kelbie was quickly diminished.

“She’s hands down the best intangible player that’s played in Oklahoma on the girls’ side,” Neal said. “It’s not just about scoring 20 or 30 points, because we got about five girls that can do that. It’s about making sure everybody’s doing what they need to do and shouldering the burden of everybody and making sure that we’re ready to go in those tough adverse moments. That’s what she’s about.” “It was exciting. I was really happy for her,” Robert said reminiscing on his daughter’s high school success. “With me coaching at Moore, she was close to going to Moore, but I appreciate that she was able to be on such a good team and coached by a good coach.” 44 | March 2022

“She’s a very motivating person,” Kelbie said of Baranczyk. “At the end of the day, she’s going to push us, but she wants us to have fun and I think that really helps us to be a more confident person. “She helped us on and off the court as young women in the college landscape. Her personality, her motivation, the way she cares, it is helpful and it shows, and it shows in the things that we are doing.”

The surprises were not finished for Kelbie. After playing four years for Michael Neal at Norman, Neal accepted a job as an assistant coach on Jenny B’s new staff. The familiarity of playing at home was bolstered even more by adding her high school coach to the coaching staff at the University of Oklahoma. “I was excited with a familiar face. I knew him when I was a little girl, so it is crazy. I wake up and I’m at practice and it’s still crazy he’s still my coach,” Kelbie said. “Kelbie has a great relationship with Coach Neal... he played point guard and I trust him,” Robert said of Neal’s hiring. “I knew one person there always had Kelbie’s best interest beyond athletics.” Once Kelbie hit the court, it was business as usual. Washington started her first 16 games in a Sooner uniform, scoring in double figures five times. Washington has also garnered Big 12 Player of the Week and USBWA National Freshman of the Week honors following her performance vs. Wichita State where she stuffed the stat sheet with 11 points, 14 assists, six rebounds and five steals, becoming the first freshman with those numbers in the last decade.

Jennie gives us freedom and we’re having fun with it and that’s all that matters. It gets us having fun and doing what we can, playing basketball and competing.” “I love her,” Baranczyk said of Kelbie. “There are some things where she’s going to continue to learn (but) I don’t want to rein it in. I want her to play. I love her emotion. I love her competitiveness. I think we feed off that. She’ll learn to channel some of it. I love her fearlessness. I love her belief that she has in her teammates. “She just wants to win every single possession. When you have players that do that and you have players that believe in each other, it’s pretty darn special.” It has been a freshman season, despite all the success, littered with adversity. The Sooners have had to overcome the loss of one of its leading scorers in Ana Llanusa, and Kelbie herself was out of the lineup for two games in mid-January. Despite being away from the team, the freshman was able to stay connected and engaged.

The fast-paced, up-and-down offense, fits Washington’s personality and strengths perfectly.

“It was a challenge. I’m just very happy to be back,” Kelbie said. “Everyone was checking up on me to make sure that I was good when I was out. It is extremely helpful when you have that kind of support. It was upsetting to be away, but I was also just down the street too... with my family.”

“It’s so much fun. Coach trusts us and wants us to make the right read... she gives us freedom and I think that’s why we are so confident,” Kelbie said. “We mesh so well, and we know each other’s personality and traits…

“Kelbie’s a freshman, and sometimes we kind of forget that,” Baranczyk said. “We want to just make sure she’s managing everything and she’s setting people up and she’s supposed to score when she’s supposed to.


“She’s so fast and because she’s a great basketball player she can really read that game. But then there are times you can tell she’s pressing. She has her moments where she’s really good and then she has moments where she can be better. You’ve got to be willing to fall, get back up, make mistakes and keep going forward... She’s one that stays after practice every single day. Her best basketball is coming.” As the season hits the home stretch, the career of Kelbie Washington is just getting started, but the freshman with an incredible legacy of winning championships knows one thing for certain, this team is special. “The confidence in us is knowing that we still have to work hard,” Kelbie said. “This is the time when teams separate. We’re grateful for what we’re doing but we are going to keep working hard every day and we’re a close team... We love each other and support each other, and it just makes us what we are on the basketball court.” And for her family, it’s extra special. They have a frontrow seat for every moment and every big play. “Any time you see your kid out there doing those things, I don’t even have the words,” Robert said. “We always want better for our kids than ourselves. I love watching her play. It’s a dream come true for her and us.”-BSM


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50 | March 2022



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Cheer Champions

Timberwolves hard work pays off with NCA title


n Jan. 23 in Dallas, Norman North cheer earned the most prestigious title in high school cheerleading at NCA High School Nationals. The Timberwolves cheer team earned the 2022 NCA national champion title over a tough field of teams. It was the culmination of months and, really, four years of training to master a routine of tumbling, stunts, jumps and crowd leading. The day ended with North donning championship jackets and taking home the gold megaphone trophy. Championship rings are soon to arrive as well. “It meant a lot of course for a number of reasons. First of all, this was a group that worked four years together to get to this point,” North head cheer coach David Urmie said. “Four years ago, I took on this job at Norman North. I actually did the job back in 2001 and we were state champions that year and I came back to do the job again four years ago. “We’ve had some challenges this year. We didn’t place where we wanted to place in the state competitions and really felt like we had put in more work than we ever had before.”

54 | March 2022

Urmie and his team stuck to their belief system following the state championships and wound up capturing a national championship and a pair of specialty awards in showmanship and jumps over all other teams. “I kept telling the athletes from the very beginning, ‘If you’re persistent, you just keep at it, you keep the belief system, the payout will come,’” he shared. “After four years of hard work and some hard disappointments with placements this year, the work never stopped. They were always very loving, selfless, caring toward each other and really just stayed in the system and, because of that, it paid out to what became a national championship and what really, honestly, every high school cheerleader hopes to be able to accomplish.” Urmie was quick to credit his group of seniors for helping this team reach the status of national champions. One of those seniors, Rachel Tipton, said she and the other seniors put an emphasis on unifying this team before the year started.

BY: JOSH HELMER “This year, the seniors, we put a lot of effort into uniting the team, getting to know the freshmen, getting to know the underclassmen, and really uniting all together,” Tipton said. “A good routine isn’t what wins everything anymore... we all have to be united and come together as a team in order for success to come out of it.”

a lot because it’s further than just skills and having the best concrete physical things like jumps or tumbling or stunts. It’s more just about abstract things,” Kott said.

Fellow senior Jordan Kott said she and several teammates were so pleased with their performance that even a second-place finish would have been acceptable.

“I think more than anything I’m going to remember going through the first three years of not winning and coming out on top at the end. Just really goes to prove that when you work as a team and work together, anything is possible,” Reed said.

“Going into the awards ceremony … we were talking about how even if we got second, we would’ve been happy, because it was one of the first times that we really felt like we had done all that we could do and we had put our best out there,” Kott said. “I think that’s what made it that much more special to win is that we had really fought for each other and fought as a team.” Of course, North didn’t have to settle for second. Instead, the T-Wolves bagged the national championship and a pair of specialty awards. Kott said the showmanship award meant a lot to her and the team. “We won the showmanship award and that one means

Senior Olivia Reed said her team’s national championship story is one of perseverance.

Reed also commented on the type of pressure that her team faced. “We worked hard all year. It’s not like football or baseball where you can improve over the season,” Reed said. “With cheer, you work hard for months and have two and a half minutes to prove it. I think the pressure is really something that’s overlooked.” Norman North’s cheer team faced the pressures of nationals and came out on the other side with a national championship to show for it. – BSM





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EARNING HIGH MARKS Norman Regional receives honors for emergency, heart and stroke care


orman Regional Health System has been named one of America’s Best Hospitals for Emergency and Heart Care, as well as one of America’s Best Stroke Centers. This honor was given to Norman Regional Health System by the Women’s Choice Award, a trusted referral source for the best in healthcare. The awards are measured by several methodologies including patient surveys as well as evidence-based research focused on patient care. The examination surveyed areas such as total time spent in the emergency department, readmission rates and degree of care available. “The Women’s Choice Awards highlight Norman Regional’s commitment to elevating the standard of care we offer all of our patients,” said Brittni McGill, Norman Regional’s chief nursing officer. Delia Passi, founder and CEO of the Women’s Choice Award, acknowledges that women have unique healthcare needs and McGill agrees. “We, as a health system, know that women face different health concerns than men and that women also make the majority of healthcare decisions for their families,” McGill confirmed. “These awards help demonstrate that we are qualified to provide the highest level of care to women, men and children.” Heart disease is a leading cause of death for women, and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in five women in the U.S. will have a stroke in her lifetime. “With such strong prevalence of heart disease (and stroke), we want every woman to know where to find the very best care before she ever has an incident,” Passi explained. Perhaps most alarming, women account for nearly 60% of stroke deaths and studies show that women are more likely to be misdiagnosed for stroke even with the same symptoms present as men.

“Timely diagnosis and effective care are critical to preventing disability and improving chances of recovery,” Passi said. “Our award educates women about where they—and their loved ones—have the best chance to return to a full life following a stroke.” While the Women’s Choice Awards takes into consideration healthcare preferences and concerns of women specifically, organizers note that women make or influence 94% of all healthcare decisions for themselves and their families. Passi said the awards are meant to help identify the community’s leading hospital before a medical emergency arises. “Knowing the Women’s Choice Award has already placed their seal of excellence on a hospital is immediate validation that they have made the right decision, easing their concern during a very stressful time,” she encouraged. “My hope is that women know they can feel confident choosing Norman Regional for their and their family’s healthcare needs,” McGill said. Richie Splitt, president and CEO of Norman Regional, points to these awards as more affirmation of the work being done within the health system. “Being recognized as one of America’s Best Hospitals for Emergency Care, Heart Care and Stroke reconfirms that we are continuing to focus on our patients,” Splitt said. “Norman Regional and our team of healers are committed to the measures we have in place to provide the highest level of care.” Since there are more than 130 million emergency room visits in the U.S. each year, emergency departments continue to be an essential part of the healthcare system. Norman Regional’s honors in this area reflect their ability to provide fast, lifesaving care. Long waits and high crowding can negatively impact patient outcomes, including patients leaving without receiving medical treatment, longer overall length of hospital stay and an increase in mortality rates.– BSM BOYD STREET MAGAZINE | 59


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Service Spotlight: Kala Stilwell


ala Stilwell grew up knowing she wanted to go into law enforcement. And, while she may have taken the winding path instead of the straight road, she’s now an integral part of crime solving in Norman. Stilwell is one of two forensic technicians and oversees lab and crime scene investigations for the Norman Police Department. A graduate of Stillwater High School, Stilwell headed to the University of Tulsa with an eye on eventually attending law school. But, “life experiences” led her down a different path. “I ended up leaving (TU) and I decided that I needed to go experience life and maybe move around and be out on my own for a while and find myself,” Stilwell recalled. “I moved to Dallas and I was an assistant to a sales manager at a car dealership. Then I did technical support for Microsoft before finding my way back to Oklahoma, and I ended up in Norman.”

“We’ll go out and we’ll process the crime scene, but for the most part, we do all of the processing in the lab,” Stilwell said. “When the technical investigators do processing and they book in evidence, we process that evidence in the lab.

Stilwell headed back to school and earned a bachelor’s degree in forensic science from the University of Central Oklahoma, with minors in chemistry, biology and criminal justice. Newly married and armed with a love of science, she began looking for positions with police departments and landed in the communications department with Norman Police.

“I love it. It combines everything I love. I felt like I got a really good basis while I was in dispatch, a good understanding of how our agency works, and how the whole process works from the time of a 911 call comes in, until the time the officer leaves the scene. I had all of that understanding. But now that I’ve moved over to this position, I kind of see it from different eyes from the time it’s a case assigned to the Criminal Investigations Section, all the way through until we present charges.”

“I ended up just falling in love with dispatching and the pace of it and the adrenaline of it,” Stilwell said. “It’s just controlled chaos. So, I really enjoyed working there.”

And what makes a good forensic technician? Obviously, a good eye for detail and an inquisitive nature. Having an open mind also helps.

A couple of years into the position, a crime lab job came open in the department. Although intrigued by the opportunity, Stilwell was loving what she was doing in communications and, as a new mother, she didn’t want to be on call with an infant. She decided to stay in communications. Just over a year ago, and seven and half years into her career in communications, the position opened again and Stilwell decided she’d apply.

“I just I want to see how everything works from start to finish,” Stilwell explained about her approach to her work. “I don’t want to do just a little bitty portion of it and not get the end, not get the whole picture of what happened. So, just being analytical about every single aspect and if you’re looking at something, not getting cornered into one little scenario. You have to be open to everything that could have caused something to happen or that could have manipulated the evidence to make it look like it does.”

“I thought, this is my chance, so I’m going to go for it,” Stilwell recalled. “I was just thrilled when they chose me.” Norman has about 18 officers with training in crime scene investigations known as technical investigators. Stilwell and her partner at the crime lab will process crime scenes, especially major crimes, when officers would be off the streets for an extended period of time.

When Stillwell isn’t solving crime around Norman, she loves to read. The subject? You guessed it. “I still read true crimes,” she admitted. “My husband said, ‘I thought when you got this job, maybe you would kind of lose your interest for that.’ I tell him that’s why I took this job.”– BSM This is a continuation of our series on public servants in Norman.

62 | March 2022

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All You Need to Know About Taking Out a Home Loan in 2022


he most obvious things in life are often overlooked, and your checking account is just one of them. Most people hardly give a thought to this important account and how to best manage it effectively. The real estate market has shifted tremendously since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Now, as we approach the two-year mark since COVID-19 reached the U.S., the market continues to adjust to the changing economic environment, rising inflation and fluctuating demand. If you’re looking to take out a home loan in the near future, it’s important to learn about the current market trends and what you can expect in the coming months. Here’s what you need to know about taking out a home loan in 2022.

MARKET TRENDS Experts are predicting a somewhat cooler real estate market in 2022. Here’s what to expect among some of the different factors in the market. •

Supply and demand. 2021 was the year of frenzied bidding wars, as the supply of homes on the market fell well below the heightened demand. Despite these conditions, home sales were up by 44% in 2021 compared to 2020, according to Looking forward, experts expect the demand to remain high in 2022, but they also anticipate the supply of available homes to inch closer to the demand as more new-construction homes hit the market. In addition, the trickle-down effect of the end of the government’s moratorium on foreclosures will likely increase the supply of available homes on the market.

Home prices. In 2021, the average price of homes rose to an estimated 14.75%. According to the National Association of Realtors, home prices will continue to increase in 2022, but at a far more modest rate of just 2.8%. Fannie Mae projects a 7.4% increase, while mortgage bankers expect home prices to rise 5.1%.

Mortgage rates. Mortgage rates remained at historic lows in 2021, with the average 30-year fixedrate hovering around 3% at the end of the year. Economists expect mortgage rates to increase in 2022, but to continue to remain relatively low. The National Association of Realtors claims that mortgage rates will increase to 3.7% in the first quarter of 2022, while Fannie Mae anticipates the 30-year fixed mortgage to average 3.3% throughout the year.

68 | March 2022

TIPS FOR BUYING A HOUSE IN 2022 If you plan on buying a house in 2022, here’s how to make the most out of your search: •

Get pre-approved. It’s always a good idea to get preapproved for a mortgage before you start your search. It’s even more important in a sizzling real estate market like the one buyers are facing today. A preapproval gives you a leg up on bidding wars, shows potential sellers that you’re serious about buying and helps you keep your search within parameters you can afford.

Shop around for a mortgage. While mortgage rates are still relatively low, each lender sets their own rates and closing costs. Shopping around before choosing a mortgage lender can save you money in the short term and long term.

Use a local real estate agent. In a tight housing market, it’s important to use an agent who knows the area well and can give you a realistic picture of what you can expect to pay for the home you want.

Prioritize carefully. Every homebuyer has a wish list of features they’d love to have in their new home and neighborhood. But, when supply is limited, absolute must-haves need to be chosen carefully. Narrow your list as much as possible before beginning your search, as it will help you to avoid disappointment later on.

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Sweet Moscato


he most popular wine in recent years is probably Moscato. Made from the muscat or Moscato grape, these light, usually low alcohol wines are bottled in several varieties. Undoubtedly, the most popular is Martini & Rossi Asti Spumante. The sparkling (spumante) wine is made in the Asti region from Moscato grapes. There are many other Italian spumantes including Tosti, Poggio and Lunetta. Moscato di Asti is frizzante, or slightly effervescent, in a wide bottle with a regular cork. Cupcake and Stella Rosa produce this light, pleasant wine. These wines all come from the same region of Italy as Martini & Rossi Asti.

Still wine is also made from muscat grapes and is generally white wine, but sometimes a small amount of red wine is added to make pink wine. This is a different process than the usual method of producing rosé, which generally entails leaving the juice on the skins for a short period, producing a dry wine. Many fruit wines are produced by fermenting fruit other than wine. There is, however, a growing group of fruit-flavored Moscato based wines. Many of these are slightly frizzante and very low in alcohol. They include Barefoot Fruiscato, Myx and Love. All these wines are served cold and ice is not out of place.

Although muscat is not currently the most common grape under cultivation for wine, it is most likely the oldest grape. It is used not only for wine, but also for table grapes and raisins. It grows in a broad range of climates. Sparkling Moscato wine is made worldwide but cannot include the designation Asti in the name.

Among the wines that still lean to the sweet side are Rieslings, Vinho Verde and Torrontes. Rieslings have a range of sweetness as do Torrontes, so consulting with your local wine merchant to find what you are looking for is best.

Sweet bubbly is primarily produced from muscat grapes.


72 | March 2022

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What’s Eating Norman

Recess Taco Park

76 | March 2022


That’s what Brady Sexton’s niece once said, and it’s hard to disagree. Sexton, who also owns Scratch Kitchen and Cocktails, has entered the taco business with the opening of Recess Taco Park, located at 223 W. Main St. The taco park’s menu features al pastor pork, al pastor jackfruit, marinated chicken and carne asada that can be ordered as tacos, nachos or quesadillas, along with rice verde, refried beans and Taki street corn as side options. Customers can also select from the classics of chips and salsa or white queso as appetizers or try the strawberry guacamole.

A highlight from the drink menu is the Prick Fuerte, a prickly pear margarita. In Sexton’s opinion, the best item on the menu is “The Beast Quesadilla” with the al pastor pork, which includes salsa verde, creme verde, mexi slaw, cilantro, onions and, of course, cheese.

Sexton’s friend and local dentist, Dr. Gabriel Bird, who still owns the lot. Sexton said that right now, they are trying to get the word out that Recess Taco Park is open consistently. Unless there are days with significant weather, like the snow storm in early February, the plan is for the park to be open. The area includes some covered seating and will continue to add more heating and some air conditioning, and Sexton said he anticipates they will be open most days of the year. Current hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday and Tuesday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The taco park is closed on Mondays. Visit or visit the restaurant’s Facebook or Instagram to learn more about the location.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a significant increase of people choosing patio seating. This trend played a factor in Sexton deciding to open an outdoor dining space. “Obviously, people are way more prone to eat outside,” Sexton explained. “I read a lot of articles about that being a trend that was here to stay. People are preferring to eat outside and even in different weather than they would have before the pandemic.” Another motivation behind starting this business was bringing some fun to Norman. Sexton has partnered with Hunter Gamble, owner of OK Distilling Co., and Zac Holland, owner of Opolis Clothing, in running the taco park. Holland lives in Oklahoma City near where The Bleu Garten was located, and he saw how much fun people can have being outdoors, playing games, eating good food and drinking good drinks. Thus, Holland has always wanted to bring something fun to Norman, Sexton said. Recess Taco Park offers plenty of fun with outdoor games like a giant Connect Four board, cornhole and a mini golf course located right by the park. It’s located in the former location of TOLY Park, which was owned by

For Sexton, working in the restaurant business is exactly what he’s wanted to do for years. During his freshman year at the University of Oklahoma, Sexton started bussing tables. As soon as he bussed his first table, he knew that he wanted to own his own restaurant someday. “Hospitality comes naturally to me, and it’s just fun,” Sexton shared. “I love anticipating other people’s needs and trying to fill them with delicious food and beverage.” – BSM



the DINE guide

80 | March 2022

Legends Restaurant & Catering

Sauce It Up

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offers a good meal at an affordable price to keep

family. Featuring an extensive burger menu, full bar

your energy up for your next round. Check out their

and multiple TVs to catch the game, all just a short

Launch & Lunch special including $2 range tokens

walk from OU’s stadium, 405 Burger Bar is perfect

and Happy Hours every weekday.

for both pre and post-game celebrations.

2400 Westport Dr • 405.360.7600

1429 George Ave • 405.500.6750

Gaberino’s Homestyle Italian

Scratch Kitchen & Cocktails

Gaberino’s is a family-owned Italian restaurant

Scratch’s menu is crafted entirely from scratch

located on Ed Noble Parkway. They feature

and features smokehouse bacon, pan-seared fish,

homestyle recipes made from scratch, with gluten-

farm-fresh veggies and slow-roasted meats. They

free, vegetarian, vegan and low-carb options.

have a plethora of custom cocktails that will leave

Gaberino’s provides in-house dining, patio dining,

you wanting more. Come taste the difference a true

delivery, online and takeout services.

fresh, from Scratch experience can make.

400 Ed Noble Parkway • 405.310.2229

132 W Main St • 405.801.2900

Spare Time Sports Grill

The Mont

Spare Time Sports Grill is inside Sooner Bowl and

You won’t find a better spot for lunch, dinner,

features delicious food beyond what you’d expect at

or drinks than The Mont’s famous patio. Enjoy

a bowling alley. Great burgers, salads, sandwiches

enticing entrees, burgers, Mexican delicacies and a

and appetizers enhance the bowling experience or

world-famous swirl. Is it your birthday? The Mont

provide a great lunch or dinner spot. Carry out or

is the perfect place for your big birthday blowout

dine-in available.

party with all of your friends.

550 24th Ave NW • 405.360.3634

1300 Classen Blvd • 405.329.3330

Service Station

Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar

The Service Station has been Norman’s favorite

Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar specializes in preparing

neighborhood restaurant for 43 years. Stop by and

simple foods - such as the quintessential hamburger

try one of their famous burgers, sandwiches, salads,

- with a culinary passion to satisfy restaurant-goers’

steaks or seafood and grab a drink from their full

cravings like never before. The bar features an

bar. Enjoy a nice meal on the patio, inside the

ever-rotating selection of regional draft beers and

historic dining room or grab your food to go.

cocktails that are well beyond ordinary.

502 S Webster Ave • 405.364.2139

2050 24th Ave NW Ste 101 • 405.561.1067


Penny Hill Deli Bar & Char

Interurban is a casual and fun concept featuring a

100% fresh meat. Handcrafted sandwiches. All-

wide variety of menu items catering to families, busy

natural ingredients. That’s what customers will

business professionals and baby boomers of all ages.

find when visiting Penny Hill Deli. Voted Norman’s

Their commitment to customers back in 1976 is the

favorite Deli for 14 years, the menu extends far

same today: good, fresh, quality food; reasonable

beyond normal deli offerings, with a full bar and

prices and friendly and attentive service.

multiple grilled entrees to entice all patrons.

1150 Ed Noble Dr. • 405.307.9200

1150 W Lindsey St. • 405.366.8767

Mr. Sushi

Thai Thai Asian Bistro

Mr. Sushi believes in quality and consistency, using

Thai Thai is a family run restaurant serving

only the freshest ingredients to prepare and present

delicious, authentic Thai food in Norman for over

every dish with care. From Yellowtail Sashimi

a decade. Everything on their menu is made fresh

to their creative Captain Crunch Roll, there is

daily. Join them for dine in at their location on 24th

something on the menu for everyone. Dine-in, take-

Avenue NE near Tecumseh or take home a meal for

out and delivery options are available.

you or the enitre family.

1204 N Interstate Dr. Ste 130. • 405.310.6669

3522 24th Ave NW Ste 100 • 405.310.2026

The Meating Place Located on Main St, just East of the railroad tracks, The Meating Place’s permanent location serves delicious high-quality barbecue, local beer, craft cocktails in a lively atmosphere. Join them for trivia night or stop by their food truck when you see it out and about around town. 121 E Main St. • 405.857.7431

Want to be included in our monthly Dine guide?

Call 405.321.1400 or contact us at

for more information on how you can be included every month!


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