Boyd Street Magazine March 2024

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Sooner Sports Baseball Begins What’s Eating Norman Spirals High School Sports Spring Previews

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MARCH CONTENTS ISSUE 3– VOLUME 23 2024 what’s inside on the cover /boydstreetmagazine @boydstreet 18 30 62 What’s Happening Norman’s community calendar for March 13 Around Town Images from events around Norman 14 Among Friends Activity center cultivates community, friendships. 18 Unlimited Potential Pediatrics Occupational therapy clinic moves to a new location, expands in-demand services. 22 One Norman: NEDC Communities operate at the speed of trust 34 Norman North Spring sports previews 40 Norman High Spring sports previews 44 40 Years of Sooner Bowl Looking back at four decades of family fun. 48 Service Spotlight Darci Poe 66 Joe’s Wine & Spirits Sweet moscato 58 What’s Eating Norman Spirals Hot Dogs & More 62 Remebering Toby Keith A true Oklahoma Sooner and iconic country music legend 36 Spotlight on Excellence Sooner Theatre celebrates student accomplishments at Global Theatre Festival. 54 NMotion Norman Regional’s revolutionary approach to fitness and wellness 50 “Be Kind to All Kinds” NPS celebrates Kindness Week districtwide. 26 2024 Sooner Baseball Bryce Madron and the Sooners start the road to Omaha. 30 OUFCU Spring cleaning the sustainable way. 56
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Mark Doescher MANAGING EDITOR Lindsay Cuomo PHOTOGRAPHY Mark Doescher CONTRIBUTORS Roxanne Avery | Lindsay Cuomo Kathy Hallren | Shannon Hudzinski Rae Lynn Payton | Chris Plank ADVERTISING REPRESENTATIVES Trevor Laffoon - Perry Spencer - Tanner Wright - PUBLISHER Casey Vinyard Boyd Street Magazine 2020 E. Alameda Norman, Oklahoma 73071 Phone: (405) 321-1400 E-mail: Copyright © Boyd Street Magazine 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. BOYD STREET RAIN OR SHINE, HAVE PEACE OF MIND We can help you start saving, one step at a time. Even a small start can create some peace of mind! Open your savings account today at Or schedule an appointment to speak with a banker at Member FDIC Opening deposit required. Fees and restrictions may apply; fees may reduce earnings.




















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Men’s Basketball - 3/2 vs Houston • 3/5 vs Cincinnati

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14 | March 2024 AROUND TOWN
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If a name could paint a picture, Among Friends Activity Center (AFAC) is exactly as it seems. The members, staff and volunteers of this local non-profit have bonded together to cultivate a closeknit community.

“You could be having the worst day and walk into Among Friends and have the best day,” shared Daren Wilson, former president/CEO of United Way of Norman.

Among Friends Executive Director Christopher Bojarski said that Among Friends seeks to fulfill a simple, but powerful mission to provide a safe and friendly place for adults with disabilities to have fun, learn and develop friendships. Programming is designed to create “a happy and productive day.”

“Members are able to self-select from a variety of activities to build their perfect day,” Bojarski said. “We have cooking classes, a movie room, crafts, card games, video games and exercise opportunities to encourage fun, social interaction and self-confidence.”

They also host what they call “after-hours events” which are monthly activities such as holiday parties, movie nights and game day watch parties. The after-hours events extend programming for members outside of their traditional hours and include members’ families.

Among Friends opened in 2003, under the direction of Cathe Fox. Fox’s daughter, Jennifer, was in a car accident that resulted in a traumatic brain injury.

“Cathe was looking for things for her daughter and her friends to do. After doing some research and

finding nothing, she took it upon herself to create something,” Bojarski said.

Among Friends started with six members and has served 200 people in the 20 years since.

“I don’t even want to think about how my son would be if AFAC hadn’t been available over the past decade,” shared one member’s parent. “I honestly don’t know that he would have survived the isolation and loneliness. Because of AFAC, he has not only survived; he’s thrived.

“He has a sense of belonging, purpose and responsibility.”

In 2012, Fox noticed an alarming trend – many of their members were overweight or obese.

“As a result, Cathe Fox created a health and wellness program to allow members to exercise together in a fun, comfortable environment while cheering each other on and celebrating member accomplishments,” Bojarski said. “When this program debuted in 2013, overweight/obesity percentages for our member population were at 83%. Currently, that percentage is at 52%!”

Fox passionately served as executive director until 2016. The non-profit then faced some significant challenges.

“We almost closed in February of 2020,” Bojarski said. “We received a grant from Norman North SPUD Week that kept us open, then COVID hit.”

The board set course to right the ship and downsized to a smaller space. Bojarski is happy to report that

18 | March 2024 COMMUNITY
“Without Among Friends, I would have had to quit my job to stay home with my adult child. We would have had to sacrifice our home.”

Among Friends is “in the best position we’ve been in since 2016” and is saving funds to acquire a new, larger space.

“We are in a sustainable place and are looking to grow and serve more people,” he said. This is good news since their current building is expected to close in a few years.

“Among Friends has time to boost savings for this eventual move,” Bojarski said. “The financial support and friendship of the United Way of Norman is crucial so (we) can prepare for our eventual future and any cost that comes with it.”

Bojarski said in addition to a new location, he would love to see Among Friends create a better connection with local high schools.

“We’d like to get into the high schools to help make

that transition easier for families so we can provide services for more people,” he said.

While Among Friends is nearly at capacity, they do have a few membership spots available. Prospective members should email to take a tour of the facilities.

As a staff of just two, Among Friends realies heavily relies on volunteers.

“We have opportunities to fit the volunteers’ interests whether that be to lead a class or activity or just hang out with our members,” Bojarski invited. “Our members love spending time with each other, but they also love to spend time with volunteers. We are a tight-knit community, and we are always welcoming more.” Interested volunteers should reach out by email to – BSM

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Occupational Therapy Clinic Moves to a New Location, Expands In-Demand Services

Unlimited Potential has significantly grown over the last five years, both in terms of square feet and in services provided. However, their mission has remained the same.

“Kids have a lot of life ahead of them and what we do now can greatly affect the rest of their life,” explained occupational therapist Lizzy Medina, co-owner of Unlimited Potential (UPP), along with licensed occupational therapy assistant Brandie Phillips. “We want to make changes now so that as they grow, they can be more independent, and be able to be out in the community without as much parent support.

“(We’re) teaching the tools now to help them be more successful in the future.”

The clinic has adopted a friend-to-friend approach where children are provided with a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere. Building genuine relationships is prioritized.

“We want them to feel famous and for everyone to

know their name and face,” Medina said. “We want them to know that they’re special and important.”

One of their biggest goals is for each and every child to succeed and thrive. Unfortunately, sometimes there are things at play that prevent them from doing that. That’s when Unlimited Potential’s services come into play.

“One of our core beliefs is that innately all kids are wonderful and they’re good,” shared Medina. “But there might be things making it more challenging for them to be active participants in their daily life.”

Children in need of services are often referred to the clinic by a teacher at school or by their physician. Once an appointment is made, Unlimited Potential sets up an evaluation to look at fine motor skills, visual motor skills, coordination and their ability to tolerate making mistakes, to name a few. They also conduct a parent interview and value parent input as well.

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Occupational therapy (OT) is extremely broad and there are a lot of services that can be provided to help a child become independent. The providers look at what deficits a child is experiencing and how those are impacting their ability to engage in their everyday life.

As a student, they may need to work on their fine motor skills, for example.

“We may work on being able to regulate emotions and strategies to implement in the school system to calm them down that aren’t going to be distracting to all of the other students in the room,” Medina said.

They often work on sensory processing for kids that don’t like loud noises, particular foods or certain clothing. When a child’s body becomes anxious at the thought of a new food, providers that are trained in the SOS approach (systematic desensitization) to meet the child where they’re at on the steps to eating.

Others may not like the feeling of soap and water on their skin, so grooming tasks are uncomfortable. Treating one child may look different than treating another, based on their interests, their experiences and their expectations at home and school and how their deficits prevent them from doing the things they need to be able to do.

The evaluating therapist creates a treatment plan for therapy with goals. Goals are reviewed after six months to look at growth and success. Clients can then graduate or new goals may be created or revised based on current needs.

When asked what she loves most about her job, Medina said she loves, “the relationships with the child and their parents.

“It’s cool to see a kiddo come in that might lack confidence and see them gain confidence, realizing that they can succeed and learn ways to accomplish skills that were once difficult. Seeing a child succeed is so rewarding.”

Medina and Phillips opened Unlimited Potential Pediatrics in 2019 after working together as occupational therapists in Norman Public Schools. After realizing the need for additional opportunities of service in the community, the two friends took a leap of faith and opened their first small office across from Hobby Lobby.

“Thankfully, we did take the leap because (the clinic is) still in such high demand and there are so many kids that could benefit from services,”

said Medina.

Less than a year after opening, the pair was able to move to a larger space. They decided to build an entirely new space with about 1,000 more square feet to allow for a larger sensory space as well as a space for kids to work on showering and a kitchen.

“We want them to be able to truly practice things here, so we made sure we had a kitchen space and shower for kids to get to practice skills in the same way they would practice them at home,” shared Medina.

Even with their expansion and others in the area, waitlists are often long, up to a year.

Fortunately, with the addition of two new providers and a larger space, UPP can now see new referrals after only about a 1-month wait time. To learn more about their services, visit or call 405-857-2007. Their new office is located at 3221 24th Ave NW in Norman.– BSM

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NPS Celebrates Kindness Week District-Wide “BE KIND TO ALL KINDS”

Norman schools once again celebrated Kindness Week this past February, a tradition that began in the district in 2022. Kindness Week not only promotes a positive message but also underscores the importance of social-emotional skill development, according to Kitrena Hime, director of Counseling and Advocacy at Norman Public Schools.

Each year, momentum behind this initiative has grown, making Kindness Week an anticipated event on the school calendar.

“Kindness Week is a great opportunity for our schools to shine a light on what kindness really means,” shared Hime. “Kindness is an outward emotion that makes you feel better and serves as a form of self-care, lowering stress and anxiety. “It goes beyond just being nice to each other. Kindness can completely change the culture of a school and a community.”

School counselors from each school, elementary to high school, led activities to celebrate Kindness Week in a variety of ways including dress up days, donation drives and more.

“It’s meant to be fun but also to serve a bigger purpose – to educate the whole child,” Hime explained. “When we educate our students in these soft skills, they can be open and ready to

learn academically.”

Denise Massey, the school counselor at Truman Primary, said that “Kindness Week is the best week of the school year” at their school. Students engage in a variety of activities including a schoolwide kindness BINGO game where they try to complete as many acts of kindness as they can. “Students learn to show kindness to themselves and others throughout the week,” shared Massey. “We focus on the importance of all the different ways to be kind, no matter how big or small.”

Central to the school counseling department’s philosophy is the belief that learning flourishes in an environment of mutual respect. Therefore, throughout the year, school counselors are teaching social and emotional skills and assisting students and families with resources and interventions.

Looking ahead, Hime would like to extend an invitation to the wider community to join in Kindness Week next year and all year long.

“We’d love to see Kindness Week expand into our community,” Hime encouraged. “Wouldn’t it be great if the university and our city joined us? Kids can be a great example for adults.” – BSM

26 | March 2024



2024 Sooner BASEBALL

In 2024, the Sooners will try to blaze a path to the College World Series with a talented core of returning players and strong newcomers. Entering his 7th season as the Oklahoma Sooner baseball coach, Skip Johnson has established his culture and is ready to see if this team can find its way back to the college baseball promise land.

“We’ve got a lot of new guys; the nucleus of our outfield is back, up the middle of our field is back, except for our shortstop,” Johnson said. “We have some relievers that are back. The fall was a big development time for us in developing who we are as men and working on our game day in and day out. It’s going to be a fun spring.”

In 2022, the Sooners went on a historic run in the second half of the season and into the postseason. Oklahoma swept through the Big 12 tournament claiming the title for the first time since 2014. Then at the NCAA Tournament, Oklahoma went on the road and won a Regional in Gainesville, a Super Regional in Blacksburg, Virginia, and advanced to the Championship Series of the College World Series. But after coming up short against Ole Miss in the Championship Series, the Sooners had to rebuild their lineup in 2023.

Despite a tough start, the Sooners again advanced to the postseason, but their run ended in the Regional. Now two seasons after leading the Sooners to their 11th World Series appearance in school history, Johnson has no appetite for coming close.

“Nobody remembers you got second place. They only remember you got first place,” Johnson said. “The world’s different for winners and losers, believe me. Going into what we accomplished, my goal is to build relationships. Do I want to win national championships? Absolutely. I came here to win national championships, but it’s really to build relationships. They last forever.

30 | March 2024 OU SPORTS

“Oklahoma baseball has been here a long time, and it’ll be here a long time after I’m gone.”

After rebuilding the lineup in 2023, the Sooners return a ton of production in the 2024 lineup. Easton Carmichael, the team’s All-Big 12 freshman, returns behind the plate. Four other starters returned including the entire starting outfield along with left-handed pitcher James Hitt.

“In my eyes, it’s one of the best outfields in the country,” Sooner returning outfielder Bryce Madron said. “We’ve got speed, we can track anything down and any of us can play center field. It’s honestly one of the best outfields I’ve ever played with.”

Oklahoma may have found its next star at shortstop in Jaxon Willits, a true freshman out of Fort Cobb-Broxton, Oklahoma to help fill the void left by the graduation of Dakota Harris.

“Willits played really good in the fall,” Johnson said. “He’s mature, and I think that you throw him out there, and he’ll get after it.”

Jaxon Willits’ dad, former Sooner and big leaguer Reggie Willits, is also back as part of the Sooners coaching staff. Reggie Willits has proven a valuable strategist and game planner in preparing for the Sooners offense attack.

But perhaps the biggest question for the Sooners is the unknown nature of the pitching rotation. The Sooners brought in newcomers Braden Davis (Sam Houston State), Brendan Girton (Texas Tech), Kyson Witherspoon (Northwest Florida State College) and freshman Jacob Gholston to add more depth and competition. Davis, Girton and Witherspoon, along with the return of Hitt, have competed for spots in the weekend rotation.

“We targeted guys that have more power arms (in the offseason),” Johnson said. “[Missouri State transfer] Ryan Lambert’s got a big arm, the Witherspoon twins, we got those guys from Northwest Florida State College... Myles Meyer has a really good arm. We’ve got a transfer, Brendan Girton, from Texas Tech. He’s an Oklahoma kid that wanted to come home.”

The hope is that the stronger arms should lead to more strikeouts. OU held a team ERA of 5.94 last season, which ranked seventh in the Big 12, and the program ranked eighth in team strikeouts. Johnson thinks his team overall has more depth than in years past, and he’s liked what he’s seen from Madron, one of his best hitters last season.

“Bryce could fall out of a tree and get a hit,” Johnson said. “That’s what is comfortable about him, every day he’s out there, he’s like a professional. He goes about his business; he works extremely hard. He understands his offense. I think the first three or four inner-squads he had like five RBIs and didn’t get a

hit, just driving guys in.”

For Madron, his success last season is a testament to his commitment to a never-quit attitude that has landed him as the only Sooner on the Big 12 preseason team. The Blanchard product and JUCO transfer has attacked his preparation for this season with a goal of constant improvement.

“It all starts from when I was a kid and my dad and I would work in the barn in Blanchard, getting extra swings, getting extra work,” Madron said. “Through high school, I played for a lot of great coaches. JUCO was my only offer out of high school, I did the best I could with it, and it turned out pretty good. I got here and found a great group of guys and coaches that helped me excel in my performance.”

Madron was a high school standout at Blanchard. During his junior season in 2019, the Lions captured a state championship and were state runners-up in 2018. Madron was a big reason why. He has batted .496 during his first three seasons, smashing 26 home runs, 10 triples, 37 doubles and batted in 152 runs. His speed was also on display, as he stole 75 bases in 80 attempts.

But his final season in high school was cut short by the pandemic. The shot at a back-to-back state championship disappeared and Madron was left to prepare for the unknown.

“At the time when they sent us home for COVID, we thought we were getting a two-week break and it was awesome,” Madron said looking back. “Then it kept going and going and then prom is canceled, and everything is canceled. No graduation… we’re done. And then it hits you, we’re about to be in college. It all hit so fast you couldn’t grasp what was going on. You don’t really think about it anymore, but it was challenging.”

Madron embraced the challenge of heading to JUCO powerhouse Cowley College.

“I got in the weight room more,” Madron said. “Getting bigger, faster and stronger at JUCO. We had a great group of coaches that pushed us.”

In two seasons at Cowley, he appeared in 65 games and hit .420 with 72 RBIs during his first two seasons and was named to the first-team, all-conference and second-team all-region. The opportunity to return home and play for Oklahoma was one that Madron was ready for. It also brought him back home closer to his family.

“It’s awesome. Being 20 minutes from them, they can come watch whenever they want to,” Madron said. “It makes it tough with all my siblings doing a lot of different events, so they can’t make everything, but it’s awesome being back close to them.”


Entering year two at Oklahoma, Madron is more comfortable playing big-time college baseball. Last season after arriving from Cowley College, he didn’t know what to expect and has since stepped up into a leadership role after getting off to a slow start. Madron hit .311 for the season with 12 home runs and 63 runs batted in but from May until the final game of the season, Madron hit nearly .400.

“I had a slow start to last year getting into D1 from Juco. I want to start a lot faster in the box and keep that rolling,” Madron said when asked where he wants to improve in 2024.

The return of Madron adds to an already star-studded outfield. Both John Spikerman and Kendal Pettis return to provide the Sooners speed both in the outfield and on the basepaths.

“(Pettis is) a great base runner, and he can create havoc on bases,” Johnson said. “He’s got to be good at the bunt game. He’s got to be good at taking his walks… Offense and hitting are two totally different things.”

Another key returning piece is Jackson Nicklaus who has shown significant physical growth from his work in the weight room. Nicklaus started every game at second base a year ago but saw dips in his numbers. His batting average dropped over 50 points from the season before.

Spikerman was named an All-Big 12 Honorable Mention despite watching his batting average drop from .317 in 2022 to .270 last season.

Now juniors, the duo of Nicklaus and Spikerman are looking to improve on what they hope is the anomaly of last season. Spikerman even played in the Cape Cod Baseball League to improve his game for this season.

“If they focus on the team, then they’re going to have great years,” Johnson said, “If they focus on all the results of it, they’re not. We’ve got to make sure they stay in a mindset of how they can help the team win that day.”

No one is expecting anything from the Sooners in 2024, except for those inside the Sooner dugout. While the doubt has become fuel, the creation of “CHAOUS” is something that Oklahoma hopes will strike fear in its opponents during the final trip through the Big 12.

“Nobody has talked about us. It fuels us, 100%. I can’t even describe how ready we are,” Madron said. “We’re going to show the country that we are something to be reckoned with. We’re going to create chaos… It’s a mentality. We want everyone to fear what we can do.”– BSM


Ioften mentor young professionals entering the economic development field and tell them to “be patient, don’t get ahead of yourself or you may outrun your community with big ideas.” It is also human nature to resist change, which occurs for a myriad of reasons. Like the speed of light in physics, you can’t break the speed of trust in a community.

In the ever-evolving landscape of community development, trust, collaboration and partnerships emerge as essential catalysts for propelling growth and prosperity. The intricate and nuanced fibers that weave together a thriving community and robust economy require a concerted effort from trusting stakeholders, each contributing their unique expertise and resources.

However, the journey towards progress, particularly and unfortunately here in Norman, has all too often been accompanied by a chorus of perennial, self-proclaimed skeptics whose voices have sown seeds of mistrust and hindered advancement among key stakeholders within the community, the county and across the state.

It becomes imperative to recognize the significance of collaborative partnerships, while also navigating the delicate balance of ignoring dissent that impedes positive transformation and solutions.

As we’ve experienced since ONE Norman began, one of the most significant benefits of a community visioning process is its ability to build trust, inspire collaboration, and create partnerships. When citizens are willing to recognize that their shared values and aspirations are at the heart of the vision, they become more willing to set aside differences and work towards common objectives. Business leaders, in turn, see the potential for sustainable growth and innovation that aligns with the community’s values. Public officials find a framework to guide policy decisions that are in harmony with the greater good.

While skeptics may cast doubt upon the efficacy of collective efforts, it is essential to recognize that progress and innovation often stem from the synergy of diverse perspectives and talents. Those differing viewpoints have the potential to be transformative change when harnessed constructively. It is within this context that the power of establishing a community vision emerges—a shared aspiration that not only bridges differences but also guides us towards a more comprehensive, synergistic and impactful future for all citizens.

To become a “Vision Partner” within the ONE Norman framework, helping us achieve together what none of us could achieve alone, scan this QR code to learn more or inquire at

34 | March 2024 COMMUNITY
An initiative of the Norman Economic Development Coalition

Remembering Toby Keith

36 | March 2024 COMMUNITY
A True Oklahoma Sooner and Iconic Country Music Legend

With 20 songs reaching the top spot in the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, Toby Keith’s album sales surpassed 40 million sold. Songs like Red Solo Cup, How Do You Like Me Now, Should’ve Been a Cowboy and As Good As I Once Was have cemented Keith in the minds and hearts of people all over the world.

When he passed away on Feb. 5 after a hard-fought battle against cancer, his loss left an irreplaceable void in the country music community and the state of Oklahoma.

Beyond the music and the stage, Toby Keith was much more than just an entertainer. He was a devoted husband, a loving father, a true philanthropist, and of course, a die-hard, tried-and-true Oklahoma Sooner fan. While his impact and loss are felt all across the world because of his music, in Oklahoma his passion for the Sooners and the impact he made on the Sooner nation goes well beyond any song.

After his passing, tributes poured in. University President Joseph Harroz sent out a campus-wide e-mail to magnify the impact that Toby Keith had on the University.

“As a lifelong Sooner, Toby’s passion for the crimson and cream made him a cherished figure within Sooner Nation, where he proudly shared his love for the university and its community,” Harroz wrote. “Personally, I will miss Toby’s laughter, warmth and everlasting love for the University of Oklahoma.”

Head coach Brent Venables took to social media posting on Twitter, “We are all better for knowing Toby…An amazing man who gave to so many. RIP brother. All love & prayers for his family.”

Athletic Director Joe Castiglione shared his sentiments as well, “Can’t believe we lost our dear, personal friend, Toby Keith. Filled with deep sadness but flooded with wonderful memories, too. He was as authentic as they come and did more for people than anyone will ever know. Please (pray) for his entire family. Rest high on that mountain, Big T.”

Keith left his mark on the Oklahoma Sooners as more than just someone who wanted tickets or to be on the sidelines. He was in-

grained in all things Oklahoma Sooners. And it wasn’t just football. If there was an event involving the Sooners, he likely was there.

“We know that he was an amazing fan of the Oklahoma Sooners, every sport, he was at them all,” Castiglione said. “Bowl games, final fours, the championship games, he found his way there along with his family. The athletes got to see him in a different light. They had a comfort level going up and talking to him, getting surprised because he knew more about them than they ever realized.”

Even after hitting it big and with everything based in Nashville, Keith still came back to his Oklahoma roots.

“He wanted to raise his family back in Oklahoma and it allowed him to be himself,” Castiglione said. “People know who you are, they allow you to be yourself. That’s one of the unspoken characteristics of Oklahoma. You can be on top of the world and be grounded in the red dirt.”

As the tributes and stories were shared, the genesis of Keith’s passion for the Oklahoma Sooners was perhaps best explained in his daughter Krystal.

“My dad started selling cokes at 12 or 13 years old in the stadium so he could see the games live,” she shared on social media. “We have traveled as a family with the teams to bowl games and championships as long as I can remember. Planning weddings, vacations and big life events around team schedules. He bled crimson and it’s genetic.”

Keith had a special relationship with so many within the Sooner family, but perhaps no one was closer to Keith than Bob Stoops.

“He meant so much to so many because they meant so much to him,” Bob Stoops said in an interview with Sellout Crowd. “The loyalty he had was incredible. He was tough and witty. I don’t know if I ever saw him mad.

“He was a calm, good strong person. A great Christian. He had a tough persona, but he was a gentle giant and was good to everyone.”


Keith’s smash hit How Do You Like Me Now served as somewhat of a theme for the National Championship 2000 Football team.

“That song was popular when I got to OU in 1999, and in 2000 we won the title. I had a bunch of guys who weren’t looked upon real great when I walked in there,” Stoops said. “Toby (sang) How Do You Like Me Now when we (had) the celebration in the stadium.”

Keith loved the Sooners, but he also loved to perform. You just never knew when or where that performance would take place.

“Anytime you were out with Toby, it wasn’t a matter of if he was going to get up and sing, it was when. It didn’t matter what the joint was, or who the guy was singing, or what the genre was, he could get up and do it,” Bob Stoops added. “Big T could sing the blues, rock and roll, whatever it was.

“I’ve seen him with Sammy Hagar, and he fits right in. That was him. That was his joy. He loved to entertain. He loved to sing. He was so talented. He knew the lyrics to everything. He had that way about him. Whoever it was, they were happy to have him join in.”

One of the last times, Oklahomans got to see Keith perform was an impromptu concert during the celebration with the Oklahoma Sooner softball team after winning its third straight National Championship. Despite his health battles, Keith was a constant at the WCWS games in Oklahoma City, helping to cheer the Sooners on to victory. And when it was time to celebrate, he was front and center.

Keith already had a strong relationship with the softball program and head coach Patty Gasso, but that moment on the stage in June of 2023 will never be forgotten.

“Above and beyond, we just want to honor him,” Gasso said. “It’s hard to talk about, he’s been great, his family has been phenomenal. He and his family are just lovers of our sport.

“I was looking back at our text thread, Toby and I, he had named one of his racehorses after us. He named it Seven Natty Patty. He would text and give me updates on how Seven Natty Patty was doing. It was quite an honor that he would think of me and this program that way. Man is he going to be missed.”

Gasso also highlighted Keith’s global impact.

“It’s amazing that one life could have such an impact on so many people,” she said. “Whether it’s just his heart, his music or his generosity, he’s a phenomenal man and that’s a phenomenal family.”

Days after Keith passed, OU and BYU squared off in a massive game at the Lloyd Noble Center. The seat usually occupied by Keith was set as a tribute with a guitar, an Oklahoma Sooner hat and, of course, a red solo cup. The Sooners picked up a much-needed win and Sooner coach Porter Moser paid tribute the only way he knew how with a red solo cup.

“He is everything you want to be about. He’s Sooner Nation,” Moser said. “To all of his friends around the country, in the music industry, in the sports world, friends in all different things, today we raise a glass to Toby Keith. I wish there was something different than water in this glass right now because he is a true legend, a true friend to everybody.

“I just want to say our guys played their hearts out for Toby Keith tonight to get this win, and I know he was looking down on us tonight.”

During the Bedlam match-up the following weekend, every drink in the arena was served in a red solo cup. At halftime, both Sooner and Cowboy fans in attendance raised their red solo cups and sang along in an emotional and fitting tribute.

The impact that Keith had on so many lives probably could not be truly understood or felt until you read the tributes and saw the outpouring of support.

“We’re going to be talking about Toby Keith for the rest of our lives,” Castiglione said. “We can talk about the global icon he was and how we related to his music. It’s a songbook to our life and the songs reflected what a lot of people were thinking… he was our voice in a lot of ways.

“You can talk about his iconic career, and I think people are realizing just how big his career was… What he did behind the scenes, how many shows he did in the Middle East and at military bases, but you don’t see what he did behind the scenes. He didn’t do it for attention.”

“If anybody in our American culture needs to be made an example of, he needs to be right up there,” Sooner legend Brian Bosworth added. “If you look around the world and ask people from other countries what America really looks like, it looks like Toby Keith, it sounds like Toby Keith, acts like Toby Keith.”

Big Dog Daddy, TK, Big T, Captain America, whatever name you use for Toby Keith, there is no denying that he was as real and authentic as he could possibly be. He loved his family, he loved his music, he loved his country, and he loved his Sooners.– BSM

38 | March 2024
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Lane Evans

Spring Sports Preview


Norman North enters the 2024 season with a bunch of new faces looking to establish themselves as the next wave of Timberwolf baseball stars.

“From a defensive standpoint, it’s a completely new team, other than Lane (Evans) and Will (Lundquist),” Norman North head baseball coach Brian Aylor said. “From an offensive standpoint, it’s a lot of guys that have been in the program for a long time but they’ve never really been at this level, so they’re having to learn the speed of this game kind of on the fly.”

Behind the dish, Aylor expects senior catcher Lane Evans to be among the state’s finest.

“He’s a game changer,” Aylor said. “That kid’s been in our dugout since he was 10 years old either as a bat boy or as a player. I think he’s got a chance to be pretty special.”

Evans will help direct a North staff that will feature arms such as seniors Dre Aguilar, Cade Clifton, Tanner Ellis, Spencer Ille, Cameron Standefer, Kade Vickrey. Juniors Austin Ihrig and Matthew Hutchison are two other North arms to watch. Sophomore Terry Pursell could also be a difference-maker in North’s rotation.

“(Pursell) pitched as a freshman for us on varsity, because that’s how special he was and he has a chance to really be lights out on the mound,” Aylor said.

Two likely relief arms are seniors Brier Stanek and Ethan Swenson.

As for the lineup, Ellis is a likely starting candidate at third base. Middle infield options include seniors Ryne Anders and Lane Kirkpatrick, juniors Will Lundquist and Ihrig and sophomore Luke Spencer. At first base, Vickrey, senior Garrett McAlester and sophomore Gavin Bailey are options.

In the outfield, seniors Daniel Inordee, Ari Salalati, Aguilar and Vickrey could all factor in. Juniors Evan Vinyard and Lundquist and freshman Khy Johnson will be a part of the outfield equation as well.

Fellow freshmen Charlie Copus and Trevor Benman have the coaches excited about their velocity at a young age.

“Trevor and Charlie have a chance to leave Norman North as seniors both throwing 90 miles per hour, which we haven’t had maybe ever,” Aylor said. “We’re going to give them time in scrimmages and they’re going to figure it out and play their way into the lineup or out of the lineup.”


After capturing the program’s first state championship in 2022, Norman North boys golf finished third at State last spring. Under the direction of first-year head coach Mike Kaffenberger, the T-Wolves aren’t bashful about their goal this season.

“It’s state championship or bust,” Kaffenberger said.

40 | March 2024

As North looks to finalize its top five golfers, rounding out the last two has brought great competition.

“The four through nine spots for us is a logjam right now, and so from the coach standpoint, it’s going to be really hard to round out our top five throughout the year,” Kaffenberger said. “We’ll be qualifying often and it’s super competitive, which is what we want to see.”

Heading into the spring, North’s top three golfers are seniors Josh Stuart, Mack Moore and Dax Rambo. Kaffenberger said that trio is playing the best golf in their North careers. Stuart finished two strokes behind last year’s individual state champion Sebastian Salazar of Norman from Bailey Ranch Golf Club.

“They’re phenomenal leaders,” Kaffenberger said. “As a first-year coach, that’s absolutely what I need to further the work that we’ve been doing.”

On the girls side, head coach Butch Roberts is optimistic his group can fight its way into the top four teams at State. Last spring, Norman North’s girls finished sixth in State from Meadowbrook Country Club. “We had a lot of competitive tryouts and qualifying rounds in the fall,” Roberts said. “We’re real solid at one and two and then I’ve got girls that are battling for the other three that are pretty close.”

Senior Syrah Javed and sophomore Juliana Hong will operate as the T-Wolves’ No. 1 and No. 2 bags heading into the spring. Junior Cesily Covey, sophomores Charlotte Haws and Kelsey Han and freshman Brooklyn Broach will battle for the final three spots in the Timberwolves’ lineup.

“We’ve made more of a focus on the short game,” Roberts said. “I feel like all of those girls that are competing for three, four, five, they all hit well enough to score better than they consistently do, but, as we all know, it’s about getting it in the holes. You’ve got to chip and putt to score.”


After a 10-5 campaign in 2023 that ended with a shocking 3-1 upset loss at home versus Northwest Classen in the first round of the 6A playoffs, Norman North’s boys soccer team is out for redemption this season. The Timberwolves won the state championship in 2022 and would like to return to their championship ways.

“We were a very talented team,” Norman North head boys soccer coach Khalil Benalioulhaj said. “We have the opportunity to redeem ourselves and show that we’re not just a talented group, but that we are a group that works extremely hard and is unified in our work ethic.”

The Timberwolves lost one key contributor due to an ACL injury in senior forward Alex Sonne. Benalioulhaj said their biggest challenge will be trying to fill Sonne’s playmaker role.

Senior midfielder Kalum Cheek, junior center mid Isaac Hundley, junior goalkeeper Zach Jennings, senior center mid Owen Moser, senior center back Carson Newmark and junior center mid Miguel Madrigal are key players that Benalioulhaj highlighted.

North will see several fresh faces within district play in east side foes Broken Arrow and Owasso.

“Excited to have a lot of new competition this year,” Benalioulhaj said. “We’re playing on the east side instead of the west side. It’s the first time Norman North has been in an east side district.”

Other key dates include Jenks on March 5 and Norman High on March 14.

Norman North girls soccer has enjoyed a dominant stretch over the past five seasons, winning a pair of state titles in 2019 and 2021 and playing for each of the past two in 2022 and 2023. North was also one of the favorites during the COVID-canceled 2020 season.

Kenzie Hansen

As a new season dawns, head coach Trevor Laffoon and the Timberwolves want to embark upon another memorable run.

OU commit and junior Callie Sullivan returns in goal alongside sophomore goalkeeper Kenzie Clouse. The Timberwolves also return Oklahoma’s Gatorade Player of the Year from last season in senior forward and Arizona signee Narissa Fults. Junior forward and Tulsa commit Presley Boyd will be one of North’s prominent attackers once again as well.

“Narissa is somebody that, when she wants to, she’s definitely the best player on the field,” Laffoon said. “Presley Boyd is not far behind her. I see her scoring a lot of goals.”

Meanwhile, junior Parker McGraw and junior Izzy Fletcher will be key cogs on North’s back line and core parts of the T-Wolves’ defensive success. Senior Rylie Goodman, junior Reese Keiffer, senior Lennon Park, sophomore Halley Jewell, junior Harlee Yocham and junior Makenna Adam are all projected starters as well.

In particular, Adam has made a big leap from last season.

“She is somebody that has improved tremendously from last year,” Laffoon said. “Makenna’s the most improved player in my mind. She’s somebody that’s going to be very important.”

Junior Riley Keiffer, sophomore Cadence Elmore and freshmen Brookelynne Wesley and Emily Wolney are also expected to factor into North’s rotation.

“The talent level’s pretty high,” Laffoon said. “We have two or three spots that will be kind of interchangeable with players that are new either from JV or are freshmen.”

Key dates for the T-Wolves include its road trip to Jenks on March 5, the Crosstown Clash on March 14, its Gulf Shores trip in the back half of March and contests against east side district foes Broken Arrow and Owasso on April 4 and April 9.


After a strong fastpitch campaign in the fall that saw Norman North host a regional tournament for the first time in program history, the Timberwolves look to keep the positive vibes rolling on the diamond during slow pitch season.

Junior Juliana Linares and sophomores Audrey Loving and Kylie Townsend are expected to be some of North’s top players. Norman North head slow pitch coach Laura Collins hopes her group does the small things well and learns how to generate more power offensively.

“We are continuing to develop infielders, improve arm strength and velocity in our throws, and become more instinctive on the bases,” Collins said. “Our biggest needs will be middle infield.”

Ultimately, the focus is to get better in every aspect of the game and to have fun while doing so.

“This group knows their importance in our program here at Norman North. They understand the hours they are spending playing slow pitch is making them better ball players,” Collins said. “They are looking for the advantage that will give them the edge over other players and opponents.”

Collins highlighted North’s contests against Southmoore and Westmoore as well as the Crosstown Clash versus Norman as several of the T-Wolves’ key matchups.


As the 2024 season arrives, Norman North head boys tennis coach Kirk Hays is excited to see how a group of younger players fill the vacancies left by last season’s senior class.

The Timberwolves will be led by a group that features top performers Bryan Joo, Hadden Blackman and Kale Jeffrey. Other names to watch for include Joshua Booze, Zaine Crawford, Brandon Debrosse, Ares Hall, Cooper Jackson, Ashby Jantz, Brasen

42 | March 2024

Kao, Chris Kim, Chase LaBrie, Chandler LaBrie, Issac Moradi, Evan Soderberg, Grayson, Vidrine and Andrew Wang.

Hays has solid goals for his team this season.

“Play consistent and smart on the court, keep our grades up, don’t play afraid, and have good etiquette and sportsmanship,” he said.

On the girls side, head coach Phillip Corbett hopes to see his team finish top four at regionals in order to lock up a trip to State. Corbett is leaning into a blend of new players and experienced players to make a deeper run into State than previous years.

“Junior Lindee Rex, a singles player, is joined by Miranda Huang, a sophomore. Those two, along with sophomore Lillian Dai, will be fighting for the top two spots on varsity,” Corbett said.

He feels all three have the skills and fight to do well at State.

In doubles, the Timberwolves return seniors Sierra Hill and Kaitlyn Bays. They finished in the top eight two years ago.

“I see them being in the top eight again this year,” Corbett said.

Hard-hitting junior Madi Smith with sophomore Gloria Chen, junior Ava Marx and freshman Natalie Pratt round out a strong varsity squad.

“I know we will do well and compete better than in the past,” Corbett said. “The skills and experience are there to perform at a high level.”

Corbett highlighted matchups against Deer Creek, Edmond Memorial, Edmond North, Edmond Santa Fe, Mustang and Yukon as key dates that will let them know where they stand throughout the season.


Norman North head track coach Jonathan Koscinski is looking forward to a group that features a number of standout performers.

“The goal is always to get as many student athletes to State as possible and then see how the cards fall once they qualify,” Koscinski said. “We have several student-athletes that will contend to be on the podium at State this year, including Kinley Kite, Parker Gladhill, Alyssa Pool, Camden Pratcher, Tyler Deisering, Jack Lindley and Curtis Miller, among others.”

Seniors Kite and Gladhill will take part in the 800, 1600- and 3200-meter runs and in the 100- and 300-meter hurdles, respectively. Pool, a sophomore, will be the T-Wolves’ top pole vaulter on the girls side.

Pratcher, a senior, returns after winning the state title in the long jump last spring. He will look to reclaim the gold medal in the long jump while also

taking part in the 4x100, 4x200, 4x400 relays and the 200-meter run.

Miller, a fellow senior, will be one of North’s other key figures in the 4x100 and 4x200 relays. Miller will also be featured in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, the 110- and 300-meter hurdles and in the high jump.

Senior Ryan Jackson is another North standout in the North boys’ 11-0 and 300-meter hurdles and in the 4x400 relay. Fellow senior Zain Prater is a name to watch in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter dashes, in the 4x100, 4x200 and 4x400 relays and in the high jump.

Sophomore Mason James should also be a key contributor at 100- and 200-meter dashes, in the 4x100 and 4x200 relays and in the long jump. Lastly, in the distance races on the boys side, seniors Jack Lindley and Jonah Hays will race the 1600- and 3200-meter runs and the 800- and 1600-meter runs, respectively. Key dates include the Norman Invitational on April 27 and then the regional and state meets on May 4 and May 10-11.– BSM


Jordyn Mays

Spring Sports Preview


The Tigers showed promise in April last year. They rallied eight wins in a row but then took a decline toward the end of the season. Norman brings back an abundance of talent to be a sleeper team at the 6A level.

Head coach Cody Merrell loves having a veteran group to compete this year.

“We have a lot of returning experience,” Merrell said. “The improvements that players have made this fall and winter are exciting.”

The Tigers still need to fill in gaps from last season, losing some key seniors who pitched and played big offensive roles.

“We have been spoiled with some good catchers. Noah Flanangan, who caught some for us last year, and some younger guys will fill that role this spring,” Merrell said. “A lot of guys will get a chance to pitch to get us through our district matchups.”

Senior Dax Noles has been an anchor for the Tigers ever since he stepped on the diamond. Noles will be the leader in the middle infield and be a bat at the top of the order.

Senior Hollis Breeding was a starter for the Tigers last season and will be a starting infielder this year. Senior Seth Hayes is another infielder and will also provide an arm on the mound. Lastly, senior Noah Flanagan can play about anywhere for the Tigers. He will see time behind the plate, on the mound and possibly a corner spot on the infield.

“We have a lot of guys who have played on the varsity during their high school career,” Merrell said. ”If we can stay healthy and catch a few breaks fighting through our district, we could be a dangerous team come early May rolling into the playoffs.”

The goal for Norman is to stay healthy and consistent.


Following a season that ended with a State Championship, the 2024 Norman High boys golf team is focused on building on experience. Head Coach Gregg Grost says his team has a combination of seasoned seniors and promising underclassmen that can provide a big boost for the season.

“The combination of youth and enthusiasm paired with experience and focus should serve this group well for this season,” Grost said.

The Tigers are one of the top five teams in the state so expectations are high, but Grost cautions that “expectations must be tempered with the reality.”

“This is a completely different group of young men,” Grost said. “It will be a learning experience for the entire team as repeating is very hard to do.”

6A State Champion Sebastian Salazar is entering his senior season. Salazar is one of the top junior golfers

44 | March 2024

in this part of the country. He spent the last 12 months working on his swing mechanics as he looks to the future in his development.

Sophomore Benson Diehm is another returner on the bag for Norman. He was a State starter for the Tigers last season. Senior Cade Wilson is a regional starter who will also provide depth. Lastly, senior Maddox Volentine is expected to be the other bag for Norman. These four will form the core of the defending 6A State Championship team.

Head coach Lilly Boehm is entering her second season as the head coach for the Norman girls golf team and she is expecting an exciting season.

“Each season is like a fresh start and each year’s team dynamic is different,” Boehm said. “We have three returning players as well as a freshman trio. I am excited to see how each one improves throughout this tournament season and to watch their passion for golf grow too.”

Leading the charge for Norman is junior Tatum Smith. Smith is one of two juniors who will be on the bag for the Tigers. Junior Logan Jakus is another player that will play a huge role. They both play at a high level and have improved a lot over the last year.

The underclassmen are a bright spot for the Tigers. Sophomore Elise Bamborough will see a lot of time on the bag. She will be in the mix with freshmen Zoe Foster, London Johnson and Emma Bushey. Foster shows great power and energy as a first-year player on varsity.

“I think the whole team has a lot of fire and even the girls not listed here have a ton of potential,” Boehm said.


There is much to like about the 2024 Norman High boys soccer team. Despite the Tigers losing some very talented players last year, they have an excellent mix of young and returning players. Head coach Gordon Drummond loves the balance this team has on display and expects a successful season. “We have a solid back line which includes a freshman, sophomore, junior and senior,” Drummond said.

“The midfield has both ball-winners and playmakers.” The strength of this year’s team will be in the midfield led by juniors Marcus Baucom and David Madrid. Two of the most pleasant additions to this year’s squad are two young defenders - sophomore Henry Moen and freshman Turner Satterfield.

The Tigers have been working hard on the defensive end and expect to keep balls out of the net. They are coming off a below .500 season a year ago but looking to turn that around.

“High school soccer has become challenging as almost every school in 6A can field plenty of talented players. There are no easy games, which makes for an exciting soccer season,” Drummond said.

Norman will have key matchups against Westmoore at the start of the season and Norman North in the Crosstown Clash.

The Norman High girls soccer team is coming off an impressive season with a 10-6 record and a trip to the first round of the 6A playoffs. Now, the Tigers are looking to make a deeper run. Head coach Kevin Chesley loves the experience this team possesses.

“We have a lot of depth and experience,” Chesley said. “Even though we only have four seniors, two of them will be playing soccer next year in college.”

Aniya Facen and Kimberlyn Bruehl are two talented seniors who will be playing at the next level. Facen, a Tulsa commit, has scored 38 goals in the past two seasons and played a huge role for the Tigers in their offensive attack. Bruehl, a Rose State commit, has been a consistent presence on the field, providing strong tactical skills.

Junior Ally Garn has been steady throughout her career and shows consistent strength as a wingback. Junior Jane Lockhart will be a creative force for the Tigers this season.

“This is a team that is ready to take the next step and I think we could create a chance this year. We just need to make sure we put them in the back of the net,” Chelsey said.

The Tigers will have pivotal matchups against Norman North and Edmond North.



The Norman slow pitch team finished with a record of 10-14 last season. The Tigers will have a group that is upperclassman heavy, which will help them as they get toward the end of the season in postseason play.

Head coach Carly Skinner loves the strength and power that this lineup will show early in the year.

“We have a majority of upperclassman roster, which brings more experience,” Skinner said. “We have hit the weight room harder the last two years, so I’m excited to see the strength part of our game come to life.”

There are some big improvements that Skinner is looking to see out of her team. The one is putting together quality at-bats.

“We would like to see better plate discipline,” she said. “We also need to avoid not giving up so many extra bases.”

Senior Jordan Mays has played a lot of softball during her time in Norman. Mays is impactful in both slow and fast pitch. She is a big bat in the lineup and is one of three arms that Norman can use on the mound.

Senior Ally Jones is another pitcher who threw important innings for the Tigers last season. Jones provides high velocity on the mound.

“Our goal this season is to show competitiveness and improve our team batting average,” Skinner said. “We also need to show mental toughness throughout the season.”


The Norman High boys tennis team is coming into the 2024 season with excitement as the Tigers return key players in singles and doubles from last season. Head coach Marcus Lugrand loves the progress this team has made, and sees this team making a big jump from the previous year.

“I am extremely thrilled with our team’s positivity, comradery and eagerness to improve,” Lugrand said.

One of the top players for the Tigers is senior Caleb Stovall. Stovall will be playing the No. 1 singles position and will play a crucial part in how far this team can go. He is an aggressive baseline player with a highly skilled all-court game.

“His passion to compete and dedication to improvement has made him an outstanding leader,” Lugrand said. “On National Signing Day, he signed his letter of intent and will be a valued part of the tennis program at Kentucky Wesleyan College.”

The key goals for the Tigers are to play high percentage tennis and maintain their level of consistency and focus until the last shot is played.

The Tigers have added new tournaments and scrimmages to the schedule to make the competition top notch throughout the regular season.


Norman High’s boys track team returns three of the four that broke the school record in the 400-meter relay and 800-meter relay a year ago. The 4x100 relay finished second in State, while the 4x200 relay finished third.

“We have so much strength on the boys’ team. We have a collection of some very talented freshmen distance runners too,” Monnard said. “We would like to see our 1600-meter relay team score this spring, as it has been an event that we have had a great tradition in.”

The sprints will once again be a strength of the Tigers’ team. Devin Alexander is one of the fastest kids in the state, and he will be the main guy for the Tigers in sprints. Kamran Donald and Behr Boyd are two other sprinters who played a big part for Norman last year.

Kai Hennigan and Royce King will be the hurdlers for the Tigers.

“We also have some young throwers that show potential, so that is another area we are hoping to see improvement,” Monnard added.

One the girls’ side, the Tigers return most of their relay teams from a year ago, which is a recipe for another successful season. They also have some newcomers who can be distance runners and see time on a relay. Monnard is excited to see what the girls can accomplish. “We have competitive depth in both the sprints and distance events this year for the girls,” Monnard said. “Three of our four relay teams qualified for State a year ago, and we return most of them this season. Not to mention we have some newcomers that are making things incredibly competitive.”

The Tigers were able to qualify a lot of players at State and are looking to do the same this year.

Payton Fox and Jennifer Jessup will be accounted on for distance. Patricia Holmes and Lanie Bundy are two of several sprinters who will provide competitive depth for the Tigers.– BSM

46 | March 2024

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48 | March 2024 COMMUNITY

Sooner Bowling Center is celebrating 40 years as a locally owned institution of family fun, and to mark their big anniversary they are having a party on March 8 for the Sooner Bowl community to share their memories over the years.

Sooner Bowling Center has deep roots in Norman, originally opening in 1963 and operated by the Carney family, who continue to participate in bowling leagues and take an active part in the Norman bowling community. In 1984, Alan and Deloros Haws, longtime bowlers, entered into business with another Norman family as part owners of the bowling center and later purchased the property.

“As a lifelong bowler of over 60 years, Sooner Bowl has been my home bowling center,” Cheryl Carney said. “My family owned the original Sooner Bowl from 1963-1980. We prided ourselves on having a family fun atmosphere and always keeping our customers satisfied.

“When the Haws family opened as the new owners, they continued these aspects and found many ways to improve the experience at the center. The manager and staff provide a great environment for bowling, as well as socializing with my friends and family. Sooner is a go-to place for competitive bowling or a fun outing anytime.”

Alan and Deloros Haws have made an effort to involve their family in business and have passed on the long-treasured Norman pastime to their children and grandchildren. Their daughter-in-law, Mandy Haws, now manages the business side of the bowling center and continues to keep an eye on the future as they look to imbue future generations with a love for the sport of bowling.

“When I purchased the bowling center, I never imagined it would have such longevity,” Alan Haws said. “We love that it is a second, and almost 3rd generation family business. My wife, Deloros and I bowled there, our kids grew up there and now my grandkids are growing up there. Everyone in Norman has a fond memory of having fun at Sooner Bowl and we are excited to celebrate that this year as we turn 40.”

Mandy Haws has operated the Sooner Bowling Center for over 20 years, and she says during that time a lot has changed. They have renovated most spaces within the center, including the removal of the nowmissed tiki bar. They have also added an arcade and expanded their kitchen to include a catering division. Sooner Bowling Center purchased the escape room next door and are now working to make the space available from inside the bowling center.

Mandy Haws says that no one area of the business outperforms another. Their leagues continue to be popular, and the bowling center is also a favorite local venue for birthdays and parties.

Their facilities can accommodate over 400 people and include a full-service food operation called the Spare Time Grill, which also offers catering. They also have an arcade with pool tables and video games. In addition to private events, they are involved in fundraising, which Mandy Haws says is her passion after working for many years as the director of the OK Heart Walk.

“We support high school bowling, and we just hosted a big Special Olympics tournament,” Mandy Haws said. “Being a place where people can gather and just come enjoy themselves, that’s the overarching thing that makes me the happiest.”

For more information on the 40th-anniversary party and other Sooner Bowling Center events, follow them on Facebook (@SoonerBowl) or visit their website– BSM



Norman Regional’s Revolutionary Approach to Fitness and Wellness

Behind the tagline “What moves you. Moves us.”, NMotion, a human and sports performance center owned by Norman Regional Health System, is striving to bridge the gap between fitness and medicine to help clients achieve their fitness and wellness goals, shared Heather Kuklinski, the center’s administrative director of outpatient musculoskeletal operations.

“We want to help our clients move faster, jump higher, move more with less pain,” Kuklinski explained. NMotion employs a range of tests, treatments and therapies to tackle issues hindering performance and recovery, such as chronic inflammation, recurrent injuries or mobility concerns. According to Kuklinski, the inspiration for NMotion stemmed from the vision of CEO Richie Splitt, who prioritizes wellness and preventative medicine within the health system.

“As we advance in our mission, our commitment remains steadfast in delivering accessible, state-ofthe-art care tailored to the distinctive needs of each person,” said Splitt. “This collaboration (at the Young Family Athletic Center) is more than just a partnership; it’s a promise to empower our community members to achieve their personal best, whether that’s on the field or in their daily lives for years to come.”

Anchored by highly credentialed providers, Dr. Amanda Sadler, MD, and Jozsef Szendrei, CSCS, each with a background in functional medicine, the center is designed to cater to individuals of all fitness levels, offering a supportive environment for pursuing performance goals. In fact, Dr. Sadler and the NMotion team want to go beyond the traditional definition of an athlete “to empower individuals to live healthier, more fulfilling lives.”

“Anyone on a physical pursuit of greatness is an athlete in my eye,” Dr. Sadler said, who has competed in the IRONMAN World Championship six times. “The greatness you pursue can be in sport, work, family or life.”

With state-of-the-art fitness facilities and specialized services, NMotion offers a spectrum of resources and tools aimed at empowering individuals. Before the center’s official opening at its new location within the Young Family Athletic Center, the NMotion team piloted their program with a group of local athletes, focusing on strength, agility, sleep education and nutrition education.

“We picked a tough crowd – teenage boys - to measure their performance before and then after being in the program,” said Kuklinski. “Their coach said there

50 | March 2024 HEALTH

was a noticeable difference in the athletes participating in the voluntary program.”

The Young Family Athletic Center, located in northwest Norman, is a collaborative effort between Norman Regional and the City of Norman. The centerhouses NMotion, an Ortho Central orthopedic clinic, Ortho Central Physical Therapy, a multi-sport gymnasium and two competition pools.

NMotion’s services encompass gut health, nutrient therapy, adrenal function assessment, running gait analysis and more. Through bio-feedback, providers tailor treatment plans to address each client’s specific symptoms, prioritizing recovery, endurance and injury prevention. To learn more about NMotion, visit or follow the center on social media. – BSM

If you are starting or continuing a fitness journey, Heather Kuklinski shared some important strategies to propel your performance goals:

1. Listen to your body and pay attention to what it is telling you. It is important to take the time to think about whether this is something you should push past or look into.

2. In any performance-based goal, there will always be setbacks but don’t live there. It is okay to have a bad day, we all have them. Selfreflect on what happened and why to see what you can change for tomorrow.

Jozsef Szendrei Dr. Amanda Sandler


Sooner Theatre Celebrates Student Accomplishments at Global Theatre Festival

Sooner Theatre junior performers earned global recognition earlier this year for their participation in the 2024 Junior Theatre Festival (JTF) in Atlanta, earning the Freddie G. Excellence in Music Award for excellence in every musical theater category, named in honor of Tony Award Honoree Freddie Gershon.

The Sooner Theatre performance group presented Disney’s Newsies.

Each year, competition teams take a musical and condense it to 15 minutes. They must also tell the full story through songs and dialogue, and they cannot cut music within the songs. Set pieces, props and costumes are not allowed. They are placed in pods with ten other performance groups. Each group is then assessed by a group of judges consisting of Broadway performers, casting directors, choreographers, music directors and others in the industry.

“It’s people in the industry that are very aware and knowledgeable who are looking at your performance and helping you grow through the adjudication,” Sooner Theatre PR and Development Director Nancy Coggins said. “It’s a great experience for our kids.”

Following their performances, the adjudicators join the students on the stage to help them with specific areas of their performance that need improvement while other performance groups in their designated pod watch, so all parties learn from the experience. During the festival, students also have the opportunity to attend interactive workshops.

“They’re not competing against other groups necessarily, they’re competing to see how good they can be and that’s probably one of the best things about the festival is it makes you want to be better because it’s so encouraging and so supportive,

54 | March 2024

but it is an incredible honor to be recognized,” Coggins said.

This year, Sooner Theatre performers presented to professor and theater director Beth Reeves, Katy Geraghty of Into the Woods and Groundhog Day, and Derek Bowley, iTheatrics teaching artist. The Sooner Theatre performance was led and organized by Catherine Etter, director; Mervin Tay, music director; and Kourtney Rentz, choreographer.

“Our students work tirelessly to tell a full story of a musical without props or sets to support them,” said Catherine Etter, musical theater instructor at Sooner Theatre. “Not only are students singing difficult music, dancing incredibly intense choreography, and performing complicated staging, they are also learning how to work together as a team to make the vision come to life.

“Seeing students from 6th graders to seniors all collaborating with a common goal in mind is a beautiful thing. Yes, they perform at an exceptional level, but more importantly, they become so close and form lifelong friendships.”

The New York Times called the Junior Theater Festival a “rousing celebration of theatre” that applauds and empowers young people and educators by creating student-driven musical theater around the globe.

JTF is one of many opportunities to perform through the Sooner Theatre. They also offer adult community theater opportunities and year-round classes for all ages. Sooner Theatre has been entertaining the Norman community since 1929 and remains one of the most beloved community theaters in the area.

Studies have shown that participating in musical theater increases creativity, enhances collaborative skills, improves time management skills, teaches patience, improves mental health, and promotes empathy, according to an article on

The Sooner Theatre offers children’s summer camps for all ages and registration will open this month. To learn more about classes and performances visit and follow them on Facebook @soonertheatrenorman. – BSM



If you’re always reaching for unnatural, and often toxic, commercial products when cleaning your home, you need to read this. There’s a greener and more budget-friendly way to keep your living space clean! Here are seven green cleaning agents and solutions for your home.


Baking soda has long been hailed as the Swiss Army knife of green cleaning products. Mix with water to create a powerful paste that can remove stubborn stains and grime from countertops, sinks and other surfaces.


Lemons are much more than a zesty recipe addition. These highly effective cleaning agents are equipped with a natural acidity that cuts through grease and stains while leaving a fresh aroma. Use lemon juice to clean cutting boards, disinfect countertops and brighten up white fabrics.


Incorporate a few drops of essential oils into your DIY cleaning solutions to create a calming and refreshing home atmosphere. Tea tree oil is a potent antiseptic, ideal for disinfecting surfaces, while lavender oil offers a relaxing scent and has natural antibacterial properties.


Create your own natural air freshener by simmering a pot of water with your choice of fragrant ingredients, such as citrus peels or cinnamon sticks. The gentle steam will carry the pleasant aroma throughout your home.


Vinegar is a versatile and eco-friendly cleaning superstar that can tackle many cleaning challenges. Mix equal parts of white vinegar and water in a spray bottle to create an all-purpose cleaner that can cut through grease, disinfect surfaces and eliminate lingering odors.


To get your tub and other tiled areas sparkling, use a sponge to wipe the surface with a bit of vinegar. Then sprinkle baking soda or non-iodized salt over the wiped areas, scrub well with a damp sponge and rinse with water. Then, watch those tiles shine!


Keep your floors in perfect condition without resorting to toxic commercial solutions by mixing a small amount of castile soap with warm water. Pour a moderate amount of the cleaner over your hardwood, tile or laminate floors and mop as usual.

Use the tips outlined here for DIY cleaning solutions that are great for the environment and your wallet, too.

56 | March 2024 OUFCU
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Sweet Moscato

Themost 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.

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.

Sweet bubbly is primarily produced from muscat grapes.

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.

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.

Experiment, have fun, stay safe.

58 | March 2024
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What’s Eating Norman

Spirals Hot Dogs & More

62 | March 2024
March 2024

Scott and Crystal Hosek’s run of unfortunate luck was about to change. Only the couple from Wayne had no idea a satisfied customer would be the catalyst for a complete turnaround less than a week before Christmas.

Spirals Hot Dogs & More on West Main Street had managed to survive both the coronavirus and Scott’s stroke but teetered on the brink of closure since opening in September 2020.

Cost-cutting moves by the restaurant veterans plus a group of loyal customers helped keep the place afloat until Nick Chappell stopped by for a bite to eat on Dec. 20.

“We figured out what it cost to make the place work and that’s what we made,” Scott recalled. “We just didn’t make anything extra, and we didn’t do anything extra. We just held on to what we had.”

They kept the menu simple. Serve spiral-cut hot dogs in buns and bowls and top them with everything from chili and cream cheese to peanut butter and bacon.

“We didn’t do what everyone else does, we didn’t try to be everything to everybody,” he said. “We just decided we are going to do what we do.”

In October, Hosek suffered a stroke, one that affected his memory but didn’t keep him sidelined too long.

He was back at work when Chappell and a co-worker from the Oklahoma Army National Guard Armory on Tecumseh Road walked through the doors for the first time. Hosek recalled being happy to have some customers.

“It was incredibly dead, and they were the only two that came in,” he said. “I came by a couple of times to talk to them. They were really sweet guys.”

Turns out, they loved the food.

“(Nick) was like, ‘I thought I made a mistake until I got the food, and I realized something’s not right here because you should be busy,’” Hosek recalled.

Before leaving, Chappell took a picture of the owner standing in the doorway looking into the parking lot of Merkle Creek Plaza.

“Why are we slow when everybody else is busy?” Hosek recalled thinking to himself. “But I know I didn’t say that to anybody. I would never say that.”

The co-worker urged Chappell to post the image on social media or he would, Hosek recalled.

“It needs to go out,” the co-worker said.

So, Chappell posted the image on Facebook and the course of Spirals changed overnight. The post became extremely popular and was shared by many people on social media in a short period of time.

Nothing prepared Hosek or his staff of one for what happened the next morning. Crystal Hosek got wind of the post from the couple’s daughter and tried to warn her husband that he was going to be busy.

“I don’t think I’m going to be that busy,” he told her over the phone. “And she’s like ‘I think you’re going to be busy.”

Hosek said he looked up and “there’s like this wave of people starting to walk towards the door.”

“I’m like, OK, I’m going to let you go because it looks like I’m going to be busy,” he told his wife.

Hosek was by himself but decided to open the door 30 minutes early to accommodate the crowd gathered outside.

“I was on the register for one full hour,” he said. “I couldn’t even get off the register, so I couldn’t even begin to make the food for the first people that walked in.

“I told the (other employee) she didn’t need to be here until noon, so we were an hour behind. When she got here, she took over the register and I got on the grill and just went to town.”

The sea of customers just lined up and waited patiently, Hosek said.

“They were so cool about it,” he said. “They were like ‘man, we’re just happy to see you busy. Don’t worry about it, we’re fine.’ And they just cheered us on.”

About 120 people ate at Spirals on Dec. 21, and spent approximately $3,700, Hosek said.

Prior to Chappell’s visit and viral post, the restaurant, which also serves shaved ice, was taking in between $400 and $600 per day.

The run of customers — some from as far away as Singapore — hasn’t slowed down much since, according to Hosek.

Kevin Davis, a heating and air conditioning system engineer, is a Spirals regular.

“I tried Spirals when it first opened, and the place wasn’t busy at all,” Davis said. “I was amazed at the various toppings that they offered and decided to step out of my comfort zone and try something different and I am so glad I did.

“The quality of the food and attention to detail that Scott and his staff put into each serving can be tasted in every bite. I take my co-workers there once a month, and they have become regulars as well.”– BSM




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In 2014, Darci Poe began her career in public service working for the City of Norman animal welfare division. After a two-year hiatus from the department, Poe returned in 2018 as a purchasing administrator, and in 2020, she became the executive assistant to Chief of Police Kevin Foster.

“I like working at the police department because everyone is supportive, nice and welcoming,” Poe said. “I enjoy getting to know more about our community and the people who serve Norman.”

Before Poe began working at the police department, she said she was oblivious to all that goes on within the department.

“Norman has a great police department, and our officers do a great job in our city,” she said.

Since many citizens are also unable to see all that the department does in the community, the Norman Police Department found that education is the most effective way to gain understanding and support from the community. The success of any police agency depends largely on the cooperation and support it receives from the citizens it serves. Therefore, a Citizens Police Academy was formed to offer citizens insight into how police officers perform their duties and how the department serves the community. Poe said Norman police officers give a lot to the community that most people don’t get to see.

“They do a lot of good for Norman besides their police work,” she explained.

The Citizens Police Academy consists of one three-hour class each week for 10 weeks. The comprehensive instruction covers a different area of the Norman Police Department each week. Certified police officers, supervisors and civilian instructors conduct the classes.

“When people go through the Citizens Police Academy, they learn so much,” Poe said. “I went through (the academy) in 2018. It is a great opportunity to not only learn about the department but also to network and meet interesting people.”

Poe said there’s even a graduation ceremony after the course.

Any interested citizen 18 years of age or older residing or working in Norman is encouraged to attend. For an application, go to the City of Norman website.

In 2020, the Norman police department designated honor guard historians as another part of their community education efforts.

“We have two historians at the department,” Poe said. “I’m one of the two but the second position is not filled.”

Poe gathers historical memorabilia including pictures, uniforms, equipment, awards and albums of newspaper articles.

“I love history,” she said. “In 2021-2022, we did a project featuring innovators of the Norman PD. Every quarter, we focused on a different person and sent pictures out to the public as well as within the department.”

Currently, a room in the department is filled with artifacts and historical documents with plans underway to update and move the items to a space more conducive to proper preservation. Tours are available to view the artifacts, equipment and uniforms on display.

“It’s meant for the public as well as officers to see the history of the department,” Poe said. “We have pictures of all the academies which we’re hoping to feature on rotation in an area not secure, so when the public comes in, they can see it easier.”

Poe said her focus now is getting everything in order so that when the memorabilia is moved to the new space, it will all be organized.

Poe and her husband, an active-duty Navy officer, have a nine-year-old daughter. They enjoy exploring, taking road trips, traveling, watching movies together and attending competitive dance events.

66 | March 2024 This is a continuation of our series on public servants in Norman.

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