Boyd Street January 2021

Page 1

Homestyle Italian


Normanite of the Month

Robin Allen

Infusion Treatment for


January 2021 • Issue 1 • Volume 20

20 Years Later

Committed to


Spend Life Wisely Faith

Financial Well-Being

Health & Wellness

Personal Growth

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Habitat for Humanity

10 by Chelsey Kraft


Building homes, community and hope.


Mark Doescher

A Place to Serve & Grow

14 by Lindsay Cuomo


Junior League of Norman invites new members.

Dimensions Academy

18 by Lindsay Cuomo

District completes construction of new building for alternative education academy.

Roxanne Avery | Lindsay Cuomo Kathy Hallren | Joy Hampton Josh Helmer | Shannon Hudzinski Chelsey Kraft | Steve Marshall Rae Lynn Payton | Chris Plank Chat Williams



Tracie Gray - Trevor Laffoon - Perry Spencer -

In Memory of


1960 - 2020

Balancing Health & Safety

24 by Rae Lynn Payton

Seniors at Silver Elm Estates stay active while prioritizing safety.

Normanite in the Spotlight: 34 Robin Allen

by Lindsay Cuomo Local business owner and Chamber of Commerce advocate reflects on her time in Norman.

20 Years Later

38 by Chris Plank


Memories, insight and updates from members of the national championship team.

11 by Staff

Future Timberwolves headed to the Mat.

From Senegal to the Gridiron

CCS Royal Bai Jobe.

Netflix Here for the Holidays


Images of Main Street’s light installation from Netflix.

by Joy Hampton

62 Strengthening the Fight

Norman Regional Hospital:


68 Healthy Habits That Stick

Norman Regional Hospital:

by Lindsay Cuomo

Beware Romance Scams

Local auto dealership debuts new amenities at their Norman location.

82 by Kathy Hallren - Joe’s Wines & Spirits

What’s Eating Norman?

Gaberino’s Homestyle Italian.

Service Spotlight:

76 by Shannon Hudzinski - OUFCU

Nelson Mazda Norman

96 by Rae Lynn Payton

90 by Roxanne Avery

Community Calendar

28 Sheriff Chris Amason

58 by Mark Doescher


54 by Steve Marshall

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.

Incoming Talent

50 Josh Helmer

Boyd Street Magazine 2020 E. Alameda Norman, Oklahoma 73071 Phone: (405) 321-1400 E-mail: Copyright © Boyd Street Magazine




It’s 2021, Yeah!

87 by Chat Williams - Youth Performance

Fresh Start for the New Year

Cover photo courtesy OU Athletics : Joshua Gateley




Habitat for Humanity H

Building homes, community and hope

abitat for Humanity’s mission is to build homes, community and hope – and the local affiliate works to do just that in Cleveland County. In addition to building an average of one home a year, with plans to increase that number, Cleveland County Habitat for Humanity also completes various home repairs and projects, including building wheelchair ramps. In partnership with the City of Norman, which helps pay for materials through a grant, Habitat constructs an average of one wheelchair ramp a month. These are primarily for low-income families who find themselves in critical need, said Randy Gardner, president and CEO of Cleveland County Habitat for Humanity. Habitat then provides the labor to complete the project. For ramp projects located outside of Norman, Gardner said that Habitat works with a variety of local organizations and people to raise funds for materials. Recently, the nonprofit received a call from a woman whose husband had an amputation and had to crawl up the steps into their home. Through support from Teddy Lehman, co-host of “The Rush” on SportsTalk 1400 and Cav-

10 | January 2021

ins Construction Group, and “all because of the power of people out there caring,” a ramp was built to make the home accessible, Gardner shared. “Building a house is what we’re known for,” Gardner said. “That’s the big project, and everybody wants to get out there and swing a hammer. But these ramps, depending on the complexity, they can be done in a day or two. In that short amount of time, we change someone’s life.” Another memorable ramp project was completed in partnership with Ohio State University’s Buck-I-SERV program. During breaks from classes, students in this program complete community service projects around the United States. For the past several years, a group has come to Norman over winter break to volunteer through Habitat for Humanity. The 2019 trip was extra memorable when the students had the opportunity to make a ramp for a boy who happens to be a big Buckeye fan. The boy was born at the hospital near Ohio State’s football stadium and feels a connection to the university for that

reason. The students brought the boy signed items from Ohio State’s football team and coaches, and everyone donned their Buckeye T-shirts for the day. The boy’s bus driver also noticed the ramp and asked the boy’s mom about it, leading to him connecting with Habitat to build one for his wife, who has a terminal degenerative illness. “There was this beautiful community connection between Ohio State and Oklahoma and bus drivers and schools,” shared Michaelle Statham, vice president of program for Cleveland County Habitat for Humanity. “That’s what we’re here for, and the fact we can have the community know who we are and what we can do, it’s great to get those kinds of referrals so we can move that forward.” People who wish to connect with Habitat for Humanity can do so in a variety of ways. Gardner said that like for any other nonprofit, the biggest need is for resources, both materials and money. The organization also welcomes volunteers and is especially in need of those who are skilled, including plumbers, electricians, roofers and other similar areas.

EJanuary V E N2021 TS Jan 26 Crosstown Wrestling

Norman High takes on Norman North on the wrestling mat. Match begins at 7pm at Norman North.

Habitat sells the homes it builds with interest-free mortgages to qualified low-income families who go through a rigorous selection process. The goal is to eliminate generational poverty and provide a long-term sustainable future. Statham emphasized the need for seed funding, especially during the current pandemic due to the impact it has had on housing.

Wed Nights Jan 7, 14, 21, 28

#LoudLocal Community Event Supporting Local Restaurants Find more details on Norman Park and Recreation’s Facebook page.

Bike Night

Hollywood Corners Motorcycle enthusiasts gather for food, cold brews and live music. Starts at 5pm.

Jan 9

OU Women’s Basketball Game vs. TCU. Gametime TBD.

Jan 10

People can also donate to or shop at the ReStore, which sells items like furniture, appliances, building materials and tools. Revenue generated at the ReStore, located at 1100 W. Main St., then goes back into the non-profit’s programs. You can also follow “Cleveland County Habitat for Humanity” and “The ReStore in Norman” on Facebook to connect with the organization. “We’ve got businesses. We’ve got faithbased groups. We’ve got universities. We’ve got so many people kicking in to help these different projects,” Gardner stated. “And there’s just so much more opportunity for so many more people in the community to be a part of this. – BSM

OU Women’s Gymnastics Meet vs. Arizona State. Starts at 1:45pm.

Thru 3/7 OK/LA Exhibit

This exhibition features the work of six former Oklahomans who left the state in the late 1950s for Los Angeles: Patrick Blackwell, Joe Goode, Jerry McMillan, Ed Ruscha, Paul Ruscha, and Mason Williams.

Jan 23 OU Men’s Basketball

Game vs. Kansas Jayhawks. Gametime TBD.

Coming In February Men’s Basketball vs. Texas Men’s Bedlam Basketball BOYD STREET MAGAZINE | 11



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A Place to Serve & Grow

Junior League of Norman invites new members


hen Stacey Goldsberry moved to Norman, she wanted to get involved and make connections in her new hometown. She stumbled upon the Junior League of Norman. “I found the Junior League of Norman by googling ways to get involved,” she said. “I filled out the application and a couple of days later I was attending a meeting.” Since the Junior League includes women from diverse backgrounds, personal goals and walks of life, Goldsberry found an organization to meet others in Norman. “My fellow Junior League members are now some of my closest friends,” she added. During her time with the Junior League, Goldsberry said she has gained more than just friendship. Junior League’s mission to improve the community through volunteerism has offered an outlet of service.  “We are an organization of women committed to volunteerism,” Goldsberry explained, who is now the president-elect of the Norman affiliate for the internationally spanning organization. In addition to meeting volunteer needs for a multitude of

14 | January 2021

other non-profits agencies, Junior League of Norman has two community outreach programs of their own. Both are focused on supporting youth in the Norman community. Baby Steps, a partnership between the league, Norman Public Schools, Crossroads Youth and Family Services and the Center for Children and Families, is an early head start program that supports teen parents, both mothers and fathers, by providing quality early childhood education services, parenting classes and more. Since the program began in 1993, more than 160 teen parents participating in the program have graduated high school. The league also works in conjunction with the Regional Food Bank and McFarlin Memorial United Methodist Church to help to provide backpacks full of food to at-risk middle and high school students in Norman every weekend during the school year through their Food for Kids program. In order to meet these crucial needs in the community, the league also focuses on equipping its members to be strong leaders. “When you look at what we try to achieve, we focus on the potential of women and how to develop leaders in the Norman community,” Goldsberry explained. “We have a specif-

ic education and development committee that focuses on the needs in the league.” The committee invites guest speakers, plans lunch-and-learn sessions and cultivates additional opportunities for members to expand their skill sets and leadership abilities. Just as many other social organizations have been challenged in recent months, the league has had to make adjustments in their usual gatherings. “We are shifting to be more innovative in this world of COVID to stay connected and leverage the virtual environment,” Goldsberry assured.  “This is the year of flexibility but we are focused on meeting the needs of our members.” The league is now accepting new members for the spring semester and is open to women ages 21 and up. “People sometimes think the Junior League of Norman is by invitation only but we are open to any woman that wants to get involved and give back to the community,” Goldsberry invited. “Whether you are a transplant to Norman or lived here your whole life, there is a place for you.”  To learn more about the league, how to join and their community programs, visit – BSM




Dimensions Academy

District completes construction of new building for alternative education academy

18 | January 2021

“With this new building, the district has really made us the crown jewel,” Linda Mace said.


his past August, the students, faculty and staff at Dimensions Academy, Norman Public Schools’ alternative education program, began a new school year in a brand new building, thanks to a bond issue passed by voters in February 2019. Construction recently completed on the final piece, the school’s new gym, that will also serve as a storm shelter. “This most recent bond issue was the largest bond issue we’ve ever passed and it passed with an 80 percent passage rate,” said Dr. Nick Migliorino. Migliorino pointed to this project’s strong message about the community’s investment in alternative education. “While the state continues to cut funding for alternative education, we are investing more,” he shared. “We have the best alternative academy in Oklahoma. We have invested in teachers, in supplies and now in a new building.” The project had been part of the district’s long-term plan but when a group of Dimension Academy students participating in a program called Generation Citizen presented to Migliorino and other administration personnel on why they needed a new building, the impact a new facility would make on Norman students and the community was very clear. “So many people have played a part, former students, teachers, staff, administrators, all of those things along the way show what goes on at Dimensions Academy,” said Paul Tryggestad, director of alternative education. “The school is filled

with students who have made the choice to come here and they have some amazing dreams.” Dimensions Academy serves students in grades kindergarten through 12th grade offering at-risk students a different setting “to meet them where they are,” Migliorino explained. “A lot of people see an alternative school as a school for bad kids but that is not true. The majority of the kids just need an olive branch or just a different way of doing things,” he shared. “Dimensions Academy is a hub for so many different things and serves every school in our district.” “We are so much more than helping a student get a diploma,” Tryggestad said. “By planting seeds of hope and connecting them with the possibilities, we are helping students dream and go after that dream.” Linda Mace, assistant director of alternative education, oversees the elementary program and says the new building provides additional resources and more room “which is important for kids dealing with trauma.” “What we have is a space that truly honors the work we do here,” she said. Many students at the elementary and high school levels often spend a portion of their school day at the academy and the rest at their home school so the academy’s central location, at 809 N Finley Ave, was important.

“We are not a destination but a part of the journey,” Mace explained. “I don’t think any of us could have chosen a better, more centrally located spot,” said Justin Milner, the district’s chief operating officer. “It’s centrally located between the high schools but the career development opportunities are even better here than in the previous space with access to key partnership right next door.” Milner also pointed to another benefit. The property selected had an existing building so the district didn’t have to start from scratch. “This has been the most efficient process and the return on investment is insurmountable,” he said. The building serves kindergarteners all the way up to high school seniors, so it was important that separation and security were key features as well as creating a warm inviting space. “They have their own unique spaces and classrooms with natural light. One of the classrooms is like a full apartment to give students the opportunity to learn life skills in a hands-on way,” Milner said. “I like to say it’s like Christmas over here every day,” Tryggestad shared. “Watching students and staff and their amazement and excitement when they walked into the new building on that first day, it showed value to us as a program. We pursue excellence here; this building fits how they learn and how they can be successful.” – BSM 20 | January 2021






Balancing Health & Safety

Seniors at Silver Elm Estates stay active while prioritizing safety


ilver Elm Estates in Norman, the largest independent senior living community in Oklahoma, has 120 residents. While the coronavirus pandemic has brought about new restrictions to protect the health and safety of the large estates’ community members, staying active mentally and physically is crucial. “Staying active improves quality of life,” said Rhonda Roy, the center’s activities director for the past four years. Roy has been with Silver Elm since it opened in 2013 and plays an important role in assuring residents’ needs are met. Despite a year of difficult challenges, Roy and her staff have found ways to keep Silver Elm residents happy, healthy and most of all safe. “One of the biggest challenges has been foregoing some of the normal activities that residents enjoy so much,” she shared. Weekly trips out to eat and OU football watch parties have had to be put on hold. However, other favorites have been

24 | January 2021

able to remain in place, but with social distancing, use of masks and limited attendance. Exercise and line dancing classes are held with limits on attendees. Bingo is by far the most popular, she said. Residents can sign up and names are drawn to play twice a week. Movie nights, trivia, Wheel of Fortune, Bridge Club and crafts are scheduled with COVID precautions in place and extra activity times are built in to allow for social distancing. Commander Doyle of the U.S. Air Force Band of the West found a way to pivot and still bring joy to the community members when their Veterans Day performance couldn’t occur in person. Instead, he sent a DVD to the center so that they were able to watch the ceremony on TV screens and recognize their veterans. “It meant a lot to them,” Roy said. Instead of planning their large-scale, annual Christmas party, Roy adjusted plans to keep holiday spirits up. They decorat-

ed for Christmas and had gift surprises. A spirit week featured new themes each day and nightly van rides allowed residents to safely look at Christmas lights in small numbers. Fortunately, residents’ rooms all have outside doors that lead to the courtyard, which has allowed families to safely visit even though visitors are not allowed in common areas. “Even with visits, residents can still feel lonely sometimes,” Roy admitted so she works to keep them adequately occupied. She spends her days focused on residents’ social enrichment and happiness. “I enjoy the people and the residents the most. They’re so gracious, and we just have a good time together,” she shared. “They are pretty much my world.” To learn more about Silver Elm Estates and the amenities available, visit or call 515-8300. – BSM



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Service Spotlight: Sheriff Chris Amason


aith, family and selfless-service aren’t just words for Cleveland County’s newly elected sheriff. Those are the guiding lights of his life.

“Running for public office was one of the most challenging and, at times, exhausting endeavors I’ve ever undertaken,” Sheriff Chris Amason said. “But it was worth it because I believed I was running for the right reasons.” So did the voters as Amason experienced large victories in both the primary and general elections.

“I’ve spent these first days getting to know the employees, the processes and procedures so we can build from there to make this the best sheriff’s office in the state,” he said. “The night I administered the oath of office to three different groups totaling upwards of 90 commissioned personnel was deeply moving. Together, we have the opportunity to positively influence many lives in Cleveland County.” Amason’s plans include new programs with proven records of accomplishment across the nation.

“It’s a great feeling to know that the people of Cleveland County support me at this level,” he said. “I will live up to that trust as we continue the positive trajectory of the agency.”

“I want to implement TRIAD in Cleveland County,” he said. “This evidence-based program works with seniors to reduce crimes against the elderly.”

Because Amason has extensive experience in multiple areas of law enforcement from patrol to criminal investigations and as a command-level leader over one of Norman Police Department’s largest divisions, he’s prepared to meet his future goals as sheriff.

“You can tell a lot about a community by how they protect vul-

TRIAD includes education of seniors as well as recruiting and training volunteers to assist area police and the Sheriff’s Office as they work together to address community needs. This is a continuation of our series on public servants in Norman.

28 | January 2021


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nerable populations,” Amason said. “It breaks my heart every time I hear that one of our seniors was victimized. By pooling our resources, we can do more to prevent these crimes.” The new sheriff also plans to start an agricultural program at the jail that will allow qualifying inmates to grow some of their own food while learning a valuable job skill. “My staff at the Cleveland County Detention Center is doing a great job, especially in dealing with the special demands of a pandemic,” Amason said. “My goal is to work with them to continue to find new efficiencies and ways to improve the quality of the work environment and the rehabilitative programs we offer. More emphasis is being put on criminal justice reform at the county level, and we intend to continue leading the way in those efforts.” Amason has the experience to make those dreams reality, having entered law enforcement at an early age. “I became a law enforcement explorer with the Warr Acres Police Department when I was 13,” he said. “I stayed with the program until I was 21 when I was able to take a job as an officer with Warr Acres.” Amason served more than six years with Warr Acres, took a brief detour into private business for two years then returned to law enforcement with the Norman Police Department where he worked and advanced up the ranks for the next 20 years. “All that time, God was working in my life, preparing me for what came next,” he said. What came next could be described as serendipity, but Amason believes it was more than a “happy accident” that brought him to the Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office. Amason first met Todd Gibson when they worked at the Warr Acres Police Department. Gibson later encouraged Amason to apply in Norman, and when Gibson became sheriff, Amason was pleased to hear about the positive changes being made at the county level. When Gibson left the Sheriff’s Office to take a job in Moore, Amason felt the call to service. “I saw the potential to make a wide positive impact on people’s lives as head of the Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office,” Amason said. “After speaking with my wife, Amber, and our family, I made the decision to take that leap of faith and run for office.” While serving as sheriff is a full-time job, limiting how much he’ll be able to assist his wife in her professional photography business, he loves photography and will continue that hobby any chance he gets. “I especially love shooting sporting events,” he said. As far as college football goes, Amason said he is decidedly a University of Oklahoma fan. “Go Sooners!” he said. 30 | January 2021

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Robin Allen 34 | January 2021

hen Robin Allen first moved to Norman in 1981, she planned to go to nursing school, but she put that plan on hold. Robin’s decision would eventually change the trajectory of her professional career and lead her to impact many businesses in Norman as a business owner and an influential advocate within the Norman Chamber of Commerce. “My husband and I are originally from Illinois and we did not want to pay out of state tuition so I started working,” Robin remembered. “By the time I was going to go back to nursing school, I was making more money than I wanted to give up.” Taking inspiration from her parents who were also business owners, Robin and her husband, Don, got into the convenience store business in 1995 and operated three convenience stores in Norman for about 15 years, a role that connected the couple in the community. They also had a restaurant in Downtown Norman called Fancy That for a number of years. “You are kind of like the neighborhood bartender,” Robin confessed. “You get to know the best of the best and many of my customers are still my friends today.” In fact, one of the unique friendships cultivated in their rural store in northeast Norman led to another of the Allens’ business endeavors. “My husband got to be friends with Gerald Daniels, a big pool builder at the time, who was getting ready to retire,” Robin said. “He said to Don, ‘Don, you are very handy and I am going to teach you everything I know about building pools.’” Daniels mentored the Allens as they ventured into a new industry and they opened Signature Custom Pools in 2008, building custom residential swimming pools and renovating existing pools. Robin guides homeowners through the design process while Don and his team construct the custom creations. “Every pool we build is unique,” Robin shared. “It is so fun to go through the process. The homeowners are making such big decisions and it’s really fun to be a part of that. It is fun to see the cool things we can create for our customers and to see them satisfied in the end.”

Last year, they expanded and opened Signature Pool & Patio, a home base for their premiere pool services as well as a retail space for pool and patio accessories. “We opened Signature Pool & Patio about 18 months ago because we needed a base in Norman,” Robin said. “We have grills, gourmet food, hammocks, loungers, everything you need for your pool and patio.” As a business owner, Robin is an active part of the Norman Chamber of Commerce. She volunteered as the chamber board chair, was hired as interim director twice and worked as senior vice president of operations. “They needed an operations person for two months but that two months turned into seven years,” Robin joked. “It was very rewarding working for the Chamber. I love what the Chamber does and what it stands for.” Past Chamber board chair Casey Vinyard said Robin has quite the legacy. “Robin is known for being small but mighty, a force to be reckoned with at

the Chamber,” Vinyard shared. Robin helped streamline software and other operations and helped with rebranding efforts. “It was really exciting to be a part of a team that took care of Norman businesses,” she said. “We reinvented the Chamber and worked to best support our businesses.” Robin also has a passion for serving youth in Norman, serving as a board member for the United Way, a volunteer for the McFarlin Community Food Pantry and a supporter of the Citizens Advisory Board, an organization that meets the needs of foster children in Cleveland County. She’s been in Norman Rotary Club for 18 years and served as Rotary president in 2008. Robin and Don were junior high sweethearts. They raised two daughters and now have six granddaughters and one grandson. After nearly four decades in

Norman, Robin said she has enjoyed the energy and personality of living in a university town. “It is so fun to be in a university town and all that has to offer. There are a lot of positives to that,” she shared. “Norman is a big, small town as far as I am concerned.” – BSM


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20 Years Later

“If we were going to put in this much work, it was worth the National Championship.” 38 | January 2021


wenty years ago, the University of Oklahoma shocked the college football world when second-year head coach Bob Stoops and the 2000 Sooner squad ran the table and secured their seventh National Championship. An underrated and underappreciated group of underdogs provided Sooner Nation with memorable moments that will never be forgotten from Red October to the comeback at Kyle Field and Quentin Griffin running all over Texas. Now, all these years later, many of the stars of the 2000 National Championship team are still making an impact off the field, but the immense legacy they left for Oklahoma Sooner football and its fan base is immeasurable. While the years have passed, the memories have not dimmed.

THE MOMENT THEY KNEW The Sooners entered the 2000 season with minimal fanfare. Oklahoma started the preseason polls ranked in the top 20 which was the first time they had shown up in preseason polls in five years. The second preseason camp with Jerry Schmidt, Sooner strength and conditioning coach, had helped set expectations and, for junior fullback Josh Norman, it was then and there they decided it was championship or bust. “I’m a firm believer that belief doesn’t come when you’re down against Nebraska. If you try to find that belief at that time, it’s too late,” Norman said, looking back on the moment when he felt the 2000 team could be special. “After a long grueling day of summer workouts... it was hot... we were put through the wringer and we were dead tired. Andre Woolfolk, Damian Mackey, Curtis Fagan... we were sitting there dog tired. We all had the same thought at the same time, somebody said ‘if we don’t win the National Championship, I’m not coming back next summer. If we gotta do all this hard work, we gotta win the title or it’s all for not.’ “That mentality… that belief started then. If we were going to put in this much work, it was worth the National Championship.” Torrance Marshall was the leader of the Sooner defense in 2000. As a senior captain and the starting mike linebacker, Marshall said he felt there was no single moment that led them to believe they could win a title. “I’m not going to say one particular play here or there made that season,” Marshall said. “I’m always going to look at the whole journey of how everything ended after the Independence Bowl and what we did from that day moving forward until we played the National Championship game. A lot of guys worked their tails off and the coaches coached their tails off... We just believed in each other.” The Sooners introduced themselves as a national contender during the month of October--or what has become known in Sooner Nation as “Red October”- when the team would face No. 11 Texas in Dallas, No. 2 Kansas State in Manhattan and capped the month off at home against No. 1 Nebraska. “Our team had a great deal of character throughout the entire locker room,” Norman said reflecting on the October run.

Photos by: Mark Doescher



“It takes a great deal of character to be down 14-0 against the number one team in the country and come back to win. It takes a great deal of character to go into Manhattan and win, to be down against Texas A&M at Kyle Field and win. We were disciplined. We had respect for one another and we worked our tails off.” The Sooners rolled the Longhorns 63-14, shocked the Wildcats 41-31 and rallied from a 14-0 hole to beat then the topranked Cornhuskers 31-14. “We were down 14-0 halfway through the first quarter and we were doing math and thinking we’re going to be down 70 before we know it,” Andre Woolfolk said. “But the defensive guys came over and said … we got our stuff handled, just do your job. They just decided they weren’t giving up anything else and we decided we could move the ball now and everything clicked from there. That is the day I found out where the National Championship game was because oranges were raining down and I’m like... oh my God... I guess we’ve got a shot at the National Championship.” Teddy Lehman was a true freshman in 2000 and had the same moment of clarity when the fans were storming the field after the win over the Huskers. “I think it all really hit whenever the Nebraska game ended when the oranges started flying onto the field,” Lehman said. “Up until that point, it was just head down... grind. It was that moment where all the sudden this team finally looked at themselves and said we’re pretty good, we can beat anyone we’re lined up against.”

THE COMEBACK AT KYLE FIELD That belief was challenged when the Sooners traveled to College Station. After sweeping through Red October, the Soon40 | January 2021

ers, ranked No. 1 in the country, were greeted by a raucous crowd of 87,188 at Kyle Field. With 7:18 to go in the game, the Sooners trailed 31-28 when Marshall made a standout play. His first interception turned into a pick 6 giving Oklahoma the lead for good. “That play they ran a lot, and they were really successful on it,” Marshall said looking back on the play that led to his first career interception. “We went into that week knowing that... we practiced that play a lot. Coach (Brent) Venables got on me a lot about it. He told me, ‘They are going to run this play, and you must be ready for it … because if you cover it right, the quarterback is going to throw it and you’re going to intercept it and run it for a touchdown.’ I just wanted to make sure I knew that play and, if the opportunity presented itself, I wanted to make a big play and dig.” For senior safety JT Thatcher, the win over A&M was the moment where he realized how special this team truly could be. “They didn’t go away,” Thatcher said. “Playing in College Station is not a normal atmosphere. They are into the game. On the sidelines standing behind someone, I couldn’t hear them talk. I had to yell at them. When the offense was on the field for A&M, you could hear a pin drop.”

THE ORANGE BOWL The Sooners finished the regular season undefeated and secured its first-ever Big 12 Championship with a win over Kansas State in the Big 12 title game, the first conference title for Oklahoma Sooner Football since 1987. But, for Sooner senior captain Chris Hammons, the goal was even bigger than a conference title. “I remember the Big 12 Championship in the locker room, the Orange Bowl Committee comes in and tells you you’re

going to the Orange Bowl,” Hammons said looking back on the post-game celebration. “I remember thinking, well we won one and they can’t take this away from us. But I remember thinking, forget this. We must go win the whole thing. We genuinely believed there was no chance we were going to lose against Florida State. Our team was so tight at the time we didn’t let the outside influences affect us.”

“There was really no underdog talk, but you thought about it. When you have Torrance Marshall, Rocky Calmus, Ramon Richardson, Ryan Fisher, Dan Cody, Cory Callens, Ontei Jones, Derek Strait, Book (Brandon Everage) and me... you have those guys on the defensive side hearing the media say you’re going to get blown out. You saw what the score was… and we gave them two points.”

As Oklahoma prepared for a showdown with Florida State in the Orange Bowl, the media and Vegas did not give OU much of a chance. Oklahoma was a 13-point underdog and Stoops joked that if the Sooners listened to the oddsmakers they would be 7-4.

OU would roll the overly-hyped Seminoles 13-2 and secure their seventh National Championship, but before the game even kicked off, a moment in Sooner History played out, unlike anything we had ever seen before. The coin toss set the tone for the entire game.

“I remember distinctly hearing a lot of Miami people talking about how they should be in the game,” Andre Woolfolk laughed while thinking about the build-up to the game. “Hearing about the way that we play football isn’t real football and you can’t judge Big 12 vs other conferences. We had worked to do all these things and of course, we’re hearing about Chris Wienke and how they would shred through our defense and I was like... man… there is no way we can come out here and lay an egg to the nation. At that point, we were playing in front of Game Day and the nation week in and week out and I knew we weren’t going to come out and get embarrassed.”

“I wasn’t planning on saying anything specifically to him, but a lot of pent-up frustration... a lot of disrespect thrown our way as a team… by the time kickoff started, I was dead serious about it,” Marshall said

“We played Kansas State twice, Nebraska, Texas and Florida State and we were underdogs every game,” Thatcher said.

As the captains were preparing for the coin toss, Marshall yelled across to the Florida State captains and let Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Chris Wienke know that he was coming “to get his boy’s trophy back.” “A lot of people think I thought about what I was going to say... I wasn’t like that,” Marshall added. “It wasn’t a joke for it to be on YouTube... I said it because I meant it and I knew our team was going to play like that and I wanted to let them know it wasn’t going to be a cakewalk like they thought it was going to be.”


“We had a bit of superstition, so we went out with the same captains pretty much each time,” Hammons said of the moment at midfield. “We were certainly fired up before the game. We were about to tear the doors off before the game. Coach Stoops was always an even-keel guy, but he gave one heck of a pregame speech. We go out there and it’s surreal. All I could think about were the games I watched with my dad and brother when I was a kid... Those were famous football players I was watching as a kid and now I’m standing at midfield and Denzel Washington was there and I love Denzel and Torrance starts up on Wienke and at that moment I was thinking, oh boy this thing is really on right here. It’s on. And I agreed with him. Josh should have won the Heisman.”

could see the confidence grow. It didn’t matter how close it was, we knew someone would make a play.

While Hammons was digging the fact that Hollywood Superstar Denzel Washington was a part of the opening coin toss, it never even registered with Marshall.

The 2000 National Championship team laid a foundation for Oklahoma Sooner football in the modern era. The Sooners would play for the national title three more times over the next eight seasons including a 2003 showdown with LSU featuring many of the young players that were learning the ropes in 2000.

“I didn’t even know Denzel was out there,” Marshall recalls. “We were zoned in as a team... laser-like focused on Florida State. I was in the moment. I had no idea Denzel was tossing the coin until after the game when my mom asked if I saw Denzel.” When the game kicked off and Oklahoma dominated, it was evident that the message for the week had been received and the Sooners were champions. “The whole message for the entire week was do your job, win your one-on-one,” Woolfolk said. “As long as you’re doing that play after play, you’re fine. As the game wore on you

42 | January 2021

“It was surreal but I wish I could have taken more joy during, before and after,” he remembered. “I told somebody afterward I was empty and lost because there wasn’t another goal. We won a championship and all we had been told was let’s just worry about this and we’ll work on it next week when we get there. But there wasn’t a next week and I didn’t know what to do except wonder now what. Over time I have taken a ton of joy in it... the more people talk about it to me, the more joy I find in it.”


“The 2000 season was one of my favorite years besides 2003 and 2004,” Jason White said. “Not too many quarterbacks can say they were the best scout team quarterback in the nation. I dubbed myself that because that’s what I was that year.” Jason White would eventually quarterback the Sooners to back-to-back national title appearances and won the Heisman Trophy during the 2003 season. “It was amazing to be a part of that team,” he said. “That’s

the team that turned the corner for OU to get back into the national spotlight. All that scout team were the same guys I threw to in 2003 and 2004… Mark Clayton, Brandon Jones… and we took pride in trying to pick apart the best defense in the nation that year. That was a big deal to us.” Lehman would eventually win the Butkus and Bednarik award and was named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2003. But in 2000, he was simply figuring out how to be a college football player and had a great role model. “It was great honestly,” Lehman said. “I came from a small town and whenever I came to Norman I had no idea what I was getting myself into as far as big-time college football. To watch those guys do it at such a high level… I don’t know where I would have gone or what I would have become had I not watched those guys.”

TODAY Several members of the 2000 team are still involved in football. Seth Littrell is currently the head coach at North Texas while Josh Heupel wrapped up his third season as the head coach at UCF. Three of Stoops’ assistants from that team landed head coaching jobs at other division one programs. Brent Venables, who was co-defensive coordinator, is now the defensive coordinator at Clemson and has won two national championships with the Tigers. 44 | January 2021

Josh Norman is currently the head football coach for the Southmoore SaberCats and just finished up his first season. “A large chunk of my coaching mindset is from my time at OU,” Norman said. “It really hit me as I was interviewing for this position at Southmoore. Each one of my coaches at each level was a Hall of Fame football coach. My high school coach, Bob Stoops and I played for Marty Schottenheimer. I picked up something from each one of those guys. I was fortunate to play for great football minds, great offensive minds like Mike Leach, Mark Mangino, Chuck Long, Cam Cameron, Norv Turner.” Lehman is an analyst on the Oklahoma Sooner Radio Network and has an afternoon show on SportsTalk 1400 and 99.3FM. Derek Strait lives in the Austin, Texas area, and is involved in a home remodeling business. Meanwhile, Marshall lives in Tampa Bay, where he works for Trinity Services Group and also teaches jiu jitsu. Thatcher is the finance director at Big Red Sports while White currently is just about everywhere in Oklahoma telling you about Air Comfort Solutions. Woolfolk is enjoying ‘the dad life’. “I’ve got four little ones ranging from five to 13,” he said. “I’m adapting to being an adult basically where I must set my own schedule. I’ve had a lot of years of stuff that was planned for me, so I enjoyed setting goals for myself.”

But perhaps no path has been more incredible than that of Hammons. After wrapping up his college career, he became a lawyer and eventually turned into a reality star. “When the show Survivor started, I was immediately drawn to it,” Hammons said. “It’s the ultimate game. I tried out for close to 16 years straight, and in 2015, I finally got a call from a producer and went through this month-long process. Then in January of 2016, I was sitting in my law office... I was preparing for a jury trial and I got a call from a Boston number to tell me I was no longer an applicant, but I was a contestant.” From reality shows to radio and coaching… the list of post-football paths is diverse. But one thing still binds this group together, the grind that it took to win a national championship. “More than anything, as the years go by, for numerous reasons, it just becomes even more special,” Norman added. “The championship I use as an example talking to my own team. How nothing in life worth having or keeping comes without hard work. We are celebrating 20 years now and if I’m still around in 20 more years we will be celebrating 40 years. It’s not just the memories that were gained but more than that the relationships that you form are what makes it so cherished.” – BSM

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Incoming Talent Future Timberwolves headed to the mat


ogan Richard, of Whittier Middle School, and Kody Routledge, of Longfellow Middle School, are racking up the hardware on the wrestling mat. The pair of eighth graders will join the Norman North program next fall, but their success is already raising eyebrows. Routledge won at the prestigious Brian Keck Memorial Preseason Nationals tournament in Des Moines, Iowa, at 136 pounds in November. He won four matches, topping Angelo Posada out of California in the final. “It was a good tournament,” Routledge said. “It was the first one of the year, so it was cool to get out there.” It was his finish at Tulsa Nationals back in January of last year where Routledge began to see how good he could be. Routledge made a run to the finals in the 125-pounds weight class before falling to Jace Roller by fall. “I think it started to click the tournament before junior high state last year when I went to Tulsa and had a pretty good tournament,” he said. Then, he went ahead and won six matches to capture the 2020 Junior

50 | January 2021

High Allstate Wrestling title at 123 pounds with a victory over Bixby junior high wrestler Christia Kaiser. Now, he’s prepping for Tulsa Nationals again on Jan. 14. “Junior high state was really fun,” Routledge said. “I’ve seen the improvement where I’m focused and locked in. Just going to continue to get better. Tulsa Nationals is usually the toughest competition I go to all year, so I’m excited for the competition.” Routledge began wrestling at five years old when his dad, Wade Routledge, took him to a Del City little league wrestling event. He went to two practices, then promptly finished third place at his first-ever tournament in Newcastle. “The biggest growth that I’ve seen with Kody is when we decided to stop worrying about what weight class we were going to wrestle in. He was able to focus more on just technique,” his father said. “That’s the biggest development with him is his confidence. Same ability that he’s always had, just his confidence level.” For his part, Richard just won the 27th annual Mark Peck Westmoore Open

in the heavyweight class over Little Axe’s Lane Gourley in November. Prior to that, Richard took first place at the 2020 United States Junior Open Championship over Elgin’s George Tahdooahnippah and in 2020 Junior High Allstate Wrestling tournament against Cushing’s Rowdy Jackson. “I’ve always wanted to win that tournament,” Richard said about capturing the USJOC title. “I grew up watching a bunch of people in that tournament. I finally made it. It just told me a lot about what I can do.” Another memorable finish for Richard came at Reno Worlds this past summer. He knocked out and pinned top-seeded Lucas Stuerenberg out of Cincinnati in the semifinals before falling to Plano’s Aiden Cooley in the finals. “It felt really good because I’ve seen him around and I’d always wanted to beat,” Richard said about bouncing Stuerenberg. Training for the tournament was stressful, though, because of the coronavirus pandemic. “I didn’t really have a practice room,” Richard said. “I was kind of left alone

spring before they enter high school next fall. They each have a relationship with Norman North head wrestling coach Justin Deangelis. Deangelis has known Routledge since he was 10 and was helping train him for the World Team trials last spring before they were canceled. Richard raved about his future high school coach as well. “He used to coach me a long time ago when I was younger. He’s always been a great coach. I’ve taken some lessons with him. We’ve got a really good relationship. I can’t wait to get up there,” Richard said.

Logan Richard at the house training for it. I never really thought that I would get that far.” His father Dean Richard said it helped build Logan’s confidence. “It’s part of a series,” Dean Richard said. “The Tulsa Kickoff Classic, Tulsa Nationals and the last one is Reno Worlds. Kids come from all over the

Kody Routledge place to compete. You get a lot of good competition. The top-seeded kid who he beat had won both the Tulsa Kickoff and the Tulsa Nationals and was going for a trinity award if he won Reno Worlds.” Both Richard and Routledge are focused on improving themselves and refining their technique this winter and

Routledge’s dad echoed those sentiments. “I am thrilled that Justin Deangelis has the head coaching job at Norman North. Justin’s dedication and his commitment level have been outstanding,” Wade Routledge said. When the time comes next fall, North will add two talented, young wrestlers. In the meantime, Richard and Routledge will be busy adding to their suddenly bustling trophy cases. –BSM

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From Senegal to the Gridiron

CCS Royal Bai Jobe I

n a year full of the unusual and unconventional, 15-year-old Bai Jobe’s story maybe one of the most extraordinary.

potato chips and practiced basketball as much as possible. Because of his size and athletic prowess, he was often asked if he was interested in playing football.

Norman residents, Drs. James and Sue Bond have welcomed exchange students from Argentina and France in recent years. In 2018, they were contacted about a potential exchange student that loved basketball and wanted to interact with a family that shared his passion for the sport. Because the Bond family believed strongly in the value of the exchange student program and had a passion for basketball, they agreed to serve as a host family and Bai Jobe (6’4”, 205 lb) soon arrived ready to learn about America and hit the courts.

“At first, my classmates kept calling me a big teddy bear and I was offended,” he said. “I asked my family why they called me a bear because I was not a bear, but a lion, the CCS mascot.”

Almost from the beginning, Jobe became a member of the Bond family. He worked to become more proficient in English, enjoyed school, grew to like American food especially French fries and 54 | January 2021

American football was a completely new phenomenon to Jobe and seemed a rather crazy game that bore little resemblance to his brand of football (soccer) so he shrugged, insisted he was a CCS lion and continued to focus on basketball. A month after Jobe came to live with the Bond family, his mother passed away unexpectedly in Senegal. Since his situation in Senegal changed dramatically, there were fewer options for him to return to so the decision was made for him to stay with the Bond family indefinitely.

As an orthopedic surgeon, specializing in sports medicine, Dr. James Bond is frequently on the sidelines providing medical coverage during football games. Jobe often accompanied him to games, enjoyed the atmosphere and after some encouragement from his friends on the football team, he began to wonder if he might actually want to play football. After a call from his family, the CCS coaching staff agreed to have Jobe come out and practice with the team. The initial idea was to have him practice a lot and just learn the game this season. During his first practice, Coach Prestidge was asked a question he had never been asked in 48 years of coaching. “We were working hard on teaching Bai a route and finally asked him to just run six yards and stop. Bai nonchalantly said, ‘Ok, but what is a yard?’” Prestidge remembered.

about quitting. My family supported me and told me if I started something, I must finish it and now I’m very glad I did!” Jobe soon exceeded all expectations on the gridiron and began to understand the game especially on defense. He kept one piece of simple straightforward advice from his coaches in mind at all times. See the ball and go get it! Because of his size, determination and athleticism, this mantra helped him achieve success on the field in a very short amount of time. Six weeks after playing football for the first time, Jobe had a breakout game where he recorded nine tackles, three for a loss, to go along with two touchdowns, one on a fumble recovery and the other an interception he returned for a touchdown to help the CCS Royals win over Bethel 27-7. For this performance, the staff of the Oklahoman named him Player of the Week. “We couldn’t wait to hug Bai at the end of that game,” shared Sue Bond. “We were all so proud of him!” He had to ask for clarification as Senegal uses the metric system. Fortunately, the CCS turf field has every yard marked. “At first I would get very frustrated because I didn’t understand the game at all and it was hard,” Jobe said. “Sometimes we would use Google translate to try to help. My coaches were encouraging, but there were a few times I even thought

The future is undoubtedly bright for Bai Jobe. He has adapted to life in a new country, mastered a new language, learned a complicated new sport and continued to play basketball as much as possible. As a sophomore, he has several years to decide if his ultimate goal is to pursue a college athletic career on a football field or a basketball court. But what is certain is that he will have the full support of his American family behind him whatever he decides. –BSM



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Strengthening the Fight New clinic offers infusion treatment for COVID to keep patients out of hospital


klahomans have a new weapon in the fight against COVID-19. Norman Regional Health System opened an Outpatient Infusion Treatment Center to administer a new drug for high-risk COVID-19 patients. The clinic offers the infusion, Bamlanivimab, a new drug from Ely Lilly, which has been granted an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration. This medication is a monoclonal antibody designed for use in patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms early in the infection, and who are at high risk for progressing to severe COVID-19 and/or hospitalization. Another monoclonal antibody medication, Rengeneron, was granted EUA in December and will be added to the center’s infusion treatment regimen. Dr. Aaron Boyd, an intensivist who treats patients with COVID as well as the chief medical officer at Norman Regional, is hopeful this new clinic will provide options for patients. “The most likely candidate will be somebody who’s tested positive with symptoms recently, that is at high risk for the complications of COVID-19,” Boyd said. “There are age criteria and chronic medical problem criteria that we will use to determine who can receive the infusion.” This clinic is open to established patients with Norman Regional Primary Care Clinics. “We have a limited number of doses, but as our experience has shown with other medications, as we start using those doses we are then sent more so that we can continue to give the medication to other patients,” Boyd said. In addition to helping patients, this new method of treatment may also alleviate the strain on hospitals. “This is a method that may help prevent people from being admitted and help with bed availability. I think the capacity of the health systems in our state are reaching a maximum and we are investigating all types of treatments, modalities, management that can be done as an outpatient, this is just one of them,” Boyd said. – BSM

62 | January 2021

Dr. Aaron Boyd

Don’t Medical Distance The COVID-19 pandemic has many people worried about their health. Please don’t be afraid to seek essential medical treatment. It’s important to still: • Call 911 or visit the Emergency Room if you experience chest pain, stroke symptoms or other urgent medical needs • See your physician for wellness visits and routine exams • Take your child to the doctor for well child checks and stay up to date on immunizations • Talk to a provider about your mental health and seek help if you experience troubling signs of depression, anxiety or thoughts of harming yourself Norman Regional’s team is taking extra precautions to ensure your safety including masking, enhanced disinfection measures and staggered appointment times. We also offer several options to see a provider virtually through your phone, tablet or computer. Call us today at 405.515.5000 to be matched with the perfect physician for you.

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Healthy Habits That Stick Helpful tips for success with your New Year’s resolutions


fter an especially challenging year, many of us are ready to shake the dust of 2020 off and start the New Year with a new stride. Abby Banks, a dietitian at Norman Regional’s Journey Clinic, has some tried-and-true tips to help Normanites turn their resolutions into lasting change. “When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, we tend to be all in and then all out,” admitted Banks. “It is really hard to make big changes all at once and translating that to the long term is really hard.” Instead of following a highly restrictive diet or intensive exercise program, Banks suggests setting smaller goals such as making fruits and vegetables a priority, drinking more water or creating an exercise routine, even if it’s just for five or 10 minutes a day. “The very best thing is to keep some sort of structure when it comes to food, meal time and exercise, especially when we are home so much,” Banks said. “Spend a few minutes at night or in the morning thinking about what you are going to do that day, nothing super rigid but a guide. If we go on the fly, we will go back to what we are used to.” Set yourself up for success by creating written goals that take into account your lifestyle. “When you are trying to create new habits, you have to look at the big picture,” Banks cautioned. “Our jobs don’t change. Our families do not change. We live in the world we live in.” But that doesn’t mean you can’t create new habits, you just need to find a plan that works for you. “Life is very seasonal so review goals weekly to check in with yourself and when you think you’ve master a goal, move onto something new,” encouraged Banks. “If you make a mistake, you just have to learn from it and move forward. Look at why you didn’t follow your plan and make a game plan for next time. “If you have a rough week, be okay with that and modify and move forward.” Each success usually builds into another success, Banks said. “When you make nutritious food a priority, you feel better and overall that helps you stick with your plan,” Banks explained. “The more buy-in you have, the more it becomes your new normal.” Wondering where to start? Here are four healthy goals that Banks put at the top of her list.

68 | January 2021

Abby Banks

1. EAT THREE MEALS A DAY If you let yourself get too hungry that can lead to overeating, she warned.

2. PRIORITIZE FRUITS AND VEGETABLES Most people just do not get enough. Look through cookbooks for inspiration and plan meals around healthy foods.

3. DRINK PLENTY OF WATER Most of us are dehydrated, and that leads to snacking, even in the winter, Banks said.

4. MOVE Find some time to exercise, even if it’s just walking. Exercise apps are a convenient way to workout at home. As a final piece of advice, Banks encouraged those that are struggling and need additional support to reach out, whether to a friend, family member or a medical professional. “We all need support sometimes,” Banks said, “If you get to the point that you need the help, the team at Journey Clinic is here to help.” Journey Clinic offers a comprehensive weight loss program with both surgical and non-surgical options. To learn more about the services available, visit – BSM

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BEWARE Romance Scams W

ith COVID-19 forcing more singles to meet and date online, America’s most expensive scam is on the rise. Romance scams are all over the internet and can be difficult to spot. While the data for 2020 is not yet available, according to the FTC, Americans lost a collective $201 million to romance scams in 2019. Don’t be the next victim of a romance scam! Here’s all you need to know:

HOW THE SCAM PLAYS OUT In a romance ruse, a scammer will create a bogus online profile and attempt to connect to singles on dating apps and websites, as well as through social media platforms. After a connection is formed, the scammer will work to build up the relationship with the victim, calling and texting often. Once the scammer has gained the victim’s trust, the scammer will spin a sorry story and ask the victim for money. The scammer may explain that they cannot meet in person because they are currently living or traveling outside the United States. They’ll claim to be a doctor working for an international organization, a blue-collar worker in the middle of a construction project or to be part of the military and currently serving overseas. They may ask for money to help cover travel expenses, pay for medical treatment, cover customs fees at the airport or to pay for a visa or other official travel documents. The scammer will ask for payment via wire transfer or prepaid debit card. Once they’ve received the funds, they will disappear. Alternatively, the scammer will ask their “date” to share personal financial information and then go on to empty the victim’s accounts.

HOW TO SPOT A ROMANCE SCAM If you’re in the market for a new date and you’re hoping to meet someone online, look out for these red flags: • Profile is too good to be true. If a single’s profile has unrealistic credentials, including a magazine-worthy photo, you’re likely looking at a scam. • Single rushes into the relationship. If the contact comes on too strong, too fast, it may be a scam. 76 | January 2021

• Single asks you for money. Don’t believe a money-starved story of someone you just met online, especially if they start asking you to help them out.

HOW TO PLAY IT SAFE ONLINE Avoid falling victim to romance scams and similar ruses by following basic online safety rules. First, never share personal details online with anyone whose identity you cannot verify. This includes all financial information, credit card details and personal information that can be used to unlock a password on any of your accounts. Second, only visit secure sites and keep all the settings on your social media pages private. Never engage in conversation with a stranger who reaches out to you on a platform you’ve just begun using, or who sends you personal texts or emails you without any prior communication. It’s equally important never to send money to anyone online.

IF YOU SUSPECT A ROMANCE SCAM If you believe you’ve been targeted by a romance scam, take these steps to avoid further damage: Research the name on the profile to see if the details check out. You can also use an online background checking tool, such as BeenVerified or TruthFinder, to verify the credibility of the profile. Do a reverse-image search of the profile picture to see if it’s a stock photo or an image that was plucked off the internet. You can also ask the contact to share a current photo of themself. If your research confirms your suspicions, stop all communication with the scammer immediately. Block the scammer’s number and flag their emails as spam. If you’ve already paid a romance scammer with a prepaid gift card, call the company that issued the card to ask them to refund your money. Report the scam to the FTC. It’s also a good idea to alert the website or app that the scammer is using. You may also consider warning your friends about the scam.

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It’s 2021, Yeah!


020 was a wild ride. Oklahoma liquor stores were fortunate to remain open but it has been frustrating at times to serve customers when encountering various disruptions in supply. We are grateful for the support our customers have given us, and for the support we have been able to offer. Hopefully, by the time you read this, the light at the end of the tunnel is brilliant. Many of you have taken this past year as an opportunity to broaden your horizons, trying your hand at cocktails or experimenting with new wines. In my neighborhood, we had curbside cocktails that introduced several neighbors to new wines. Others have found that sparkling wine suits every occasion, large or small, an opinion I have always supported. Since many of you may be starting the new year dieting, sample some of the new low-calorie wines without a guilty conscience. Cupcake has come out with Lighted Hearted Chardonnay or Rosé. Skinny Girl and Fit Vine both have several varietals.

82 | January 2021

This past year saw a rise in celebrity wines. Mary Jo Blige has a unique Rosé of Pinot Grigio. Maison No. 9, a crisp French rosé, is a project of Post Malone. Bon Jovi entered with Hampton Water, a “relaxed” rosé. Snoop Dog put his face where the money is, on the front 19 Crimes Cali Red, a real crowd pleaser. This year, I recommend you try some new techniques with your wine. Instead of serving white wine refrigerator cold, let it sit at room temperature for twenty minutes. Then try it compared to a glass directly from the refrigerator. You will generally find much more taste. Try the same experiment in reverse for reds, one glass at room temperature and one about 60°. This is a good beginning to developing a tasting technique for wine. Have a Happy New Year trying new wines! Kathy Hallren


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86 | January 2021



Fresh Start for the New Year


he start of a new year and fitness go hand-in-hand. Individuals of all ages set new goals for weight loss, enhanced fitness and health, improved muscular strength and endurance and improved athleticism. Many of these goals are short-lived and fizzle out within the first few months of the year. Some of the challenges facing beginners include keeping the program fun, challenging and fresh. Changing the training program frequently is critical for fitness and exercise adherence. Try including set and repetition variations, incorporating circuit and interval training and, most importantly, changing up the exercises within each workout. A personal trainer can help with this process. Incorporating new exercises on a regular basis may help keep you coming back for more. Kettlebells, battle ropes, landmines and suspension training are just a few of the modalities that can be added to traditional resistance training methods to maintain variety and creativity within a strength and conditioning program. At Youth Performance, we incorporate multiple exercises on the turf to improve speed and agility using sleds, cones, hurdles and plyo boxes. We have a weekly challenge for kids that are ready for the next level. Chat Williams, MS, CSCS*D, NSCA-CPT*D, CSPS*D, FNSCA • • 701-3416



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Nelson Mazda Norman


he Jewel of the Mile... That’s what the staff at Nelson Mazda Norman are hoping people will call it. New construction is wrapping up now and a lot has changed at the dealership that structured their business more like an Apple store than an auto dealership. When walking into the building, guests will see nine 60” screens tied to one streaming video from Mazda corporate. An open floor plan puts customers at ease and quiet lounges and plenty of phone and laptop charging stations are strategically placed in guest and staff spaces. A new Mazda delivery center has been built into the showroom so as guests

90 | January 2021

buy a new Mazda, they actually drive their car off the showroom floor. “From the coffee to the smell of the building, to the experience... it is second to none,” General Manager Nate Parker said. “Heck, even our restrooms will make guests feel like they are at a Four Seasons hotel. Our way of business meshes with this new facility so well. One person, One Price, One hour.” Over 1,000 customer interviews were conducted to find out exactly what people did and didn’t like about their car-buying experience. “We always had these great ideas about what customers would love, but

we forgot to ask our customers,” Parker laughed. “We discovered they didn’t like the length of time it took to purchase a vehicle and the hassle of the back-and-forth between the salesperson, the sales manager and the finance manager. And we agreed.” Becoming a “one-price dealer” in 2019 meant the staff was no longer on commission and the entire process became streamlined. “No one pays MSRP,” Parker explained. “There are no uncomfortable sales manager offices or a finance manager desk. Our client advisors are very efficient because they do the entire deal themselves from start to finish.”

Local auto dealership debuts new amenities at their Norman location

The perpetuation of a business that started in the late 1950s as Jim Nelson Ford, current president and owner Robert Nelson, of the Nelson Auto Group, continues to build on the cornerstone of excellence set by his father. Built around faith in Christ and high standards of customer service, the business continues to see growth and loyalty among customers and staff. “We let everyone know how we do business upfront,” Parker said. “Some customers still want to negotiate, but we don’t do that. We may lose some customers, but we gain many more.” In 1989, Nelson Mazda coined the phrase, “We’ll make a believer out of

you” and that’s exactly what they’ve been doing…one customer at a time. In 2017, they bought Reynolds Ford and worked out of their building for a couple of years. “Then business started to grow,” Parker said, “and we opened a Mazda Evolution store. The dealership offers new Mazda cars, trucks, SUVs, pre-owned vehicles and Mazda Certified preowned vehicles. Today, the staff at Nelson Mazda wants everyone to know they don’t have to be in the market to purchase a vehicle or have one worked on when visiting. “Just come in and meet our staff and see how you feel,” Parker said. “You’ll no-

tice a tangible difference. We’re here to serve the community, not the other way around.” The word Parker uses to describe the new facility is…Peaceful. “Just come in and meet our staff and see how you feel,” Parker said. “You’ll notice a tangible difference.  We’re here to serve the community, not the other way around.”  The word Parker uses to describe the new facility located at 819 N Interstate Drive is…peaceful and said the staff at Nelson Mazda Norman strives to make car buying as much fun as owning. – BSM





What’s Eating Norman


aberino’s is a family-owned Italian restaurant located on Ed Noble Parkway. The restaurant features homestyle recipes made from scratch, with gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan and low-carb options. “I think home cooking is some of the best food. I grew up eating good food and learning how to make it,” shared restaurant owner Laura Duprez. She and her husband, Mitch, have created unique menu items that were inspired by rich family recipes, meals and traditions. The warm and comforting atmosphere, coupled with savory homestyle meals, can make anyone feel right at home. The people and the relationships formed over the years are Laura’s favorite part of the business. “I love taking care of people. It’s tonic for me and uplifting,” she shared. January’s specials are winter’s perfect comfort foods: chicken tetrazzini, pot roast over risotto and creamy mushroom soup. Take-and-bake is an option as well. “Our winter specials focus on comfort and making life easier for people right now,” Laura said.

Gaberino’s Homestyle Italian 96 | January 2021

The past few months have been challenging during the pandemic. When the dining room closed last spring, they quickly pivoted to delivery, online and take-out services. Initiating those partnerships and navigating that new territory in such a short time took a lot of behind-the-scenes legwork. Staff jumped in and worked to help make it happen. Once in-person dining resumed, they strategized and found ways to make

diners’ safety top-notch both indoors and on their charming patio. “We’ve always prioritized safety, but it’s important to make it clear to the customers that that’s what we’re doing. Going to eat involves trust. We are finding new and creative ways to make it safe,” Laura said. Another challenge has been trying to manage costs and make the business viable with a lot less sales. A lot of the staff aren’t making what they were. Less diners have meant less tips, so to-go tips are distributed evenly. Fortunately there have been no layoffs, but some staff have had to leave. “I do think we’ll get through it. We have some of the kindest, most supportive customers I can imagine. I’ve gotten to know these people that have become friends. That and our staff lifts me up on a daily basis,” Laura said. With each new obstacle, they face it head-on together as a community.

Gaberino’s just celebrated 10 years of business this past November. Despite struggles during the pandemic, the restaurant gave back to the community in celebration. They gave 10 percent in sales to four different charities, one each week during the month of October. “It’s a good way to stay connected, and charities are working extra hard right now because the need is greater. It’s good for your soul to do what you can to help other people so we try to do the same thing as a business,” Laura said. One of their most memorable moments was the grand opening at their current location two and a half years ago. They were grateful for the outpouring of support from the community. “It helped us make our business what we always had wanted it to be but didn’t really know it could be,” Laura remembered. The new location is set in the ideal spot, just along I-35. “Something about putting a big tall Pylon sign up right on I-35 in Norman with our name was just a huge moment for us,” she said

The well-built, thirty-year old building was the perfect find. “It had good vibes. I’ve always loved hand-me-downs and it has a good, used feel to it,” Laura shared. Gaberino’s is fully rooted in family. Even the name is a tribute to Laura’s family, as Gaberino was the maiden name of her full-blooded Italian mother. Despite working full-time and being a busy mom of four, her mother cooked large family meals and loved entertaining. She included Laura in the process from a young age. “She would make homemade raviolis and meatballs and casseroles. She loved making food for others and delivering meals to those that needed them,” she shared. When one of your favorite genres is cookbooks, you know it’s your passion. Laura and her mother have always enjoyed reading cookbooks. “I may not follow the recipes exactly but I like to read them,” Laura said. Whether it be a birthday or Christmas, she often

receives one as a special gift from her husband. During college, both Laura and Mitch worked and met in a restaurant on Campus Corner. Laura waited tables and Mitch cooked. After graduating, they combined their passions for the food industry and made a dream come true by opening Gaberino’s. “Mitch specializes in knowing how to produce and get good food out of a commercial kitchen. I love going in and cooking my recipes and doing recipe development for our seasonal specials,” she said. Between Laura’s experience and childhood immersed in homestyle cooking paired with Mitch’s knowledge and cooking experience in the commercial food industry, they have made a pretty sweet and savory spot for anyone craving Italian in Norman. You can find Gaberino’s at 400 Ed Noble Pkwy. You can also check out their menu online and ordering options at gaberinos. com. – BSM BOYD STREET MAGAZINE | 97

Stories of Surviving a Crisis Meet Our Friend

Juan Hidalgo Owner of Hidalgo’s Mexican Restaurant & Cantina

During the COVID-19 crisis, an FFB lender helped Juan secure a Paycheck Protection Program loan to keep Hidalgo’s doors open and support his employees and customers.

“When I saw the money in my bank for the PPP program, the relief was so good I didn’t know what to do. I told my wife, ‘We should be able to make it.’”

Meet Juan and explore other stories at