Boyd Street Magazine February 2024

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BOYD STREET February 2024 • Issue 2 • Volume 23

Grand Opening



Sooner Softball

New Season, New Home

20 Years

Toby & TJ

Spend Life Fearlessly.

Norman - East 801 12th Ave. NE Norman, OK 73071 (405) 579-7000 Norman - Hwy 9 4925 SE 44th St. Norman, OK 73072 (405) 579-7000 Norman - North West 570 24th Ave. NW Norman, OK 73069 (405) 579-7000

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NEW MEMBERS EARN UP TO $450 IN THE FIRST 24 HOURS! The Wild Card is your ticket to earning entries into every big giveaway, but it’s also how you cash in on rewards like Bonus Play and free hotel stays. JUST VISIT ANY PLAYERS CLUB DESK TO GET YOURS.


Play with your Wild Card throughout February for your chance to win a share of $80,000! Drawings happen every Friday.













Membership to the YFAC is now on sale! Sign up online for an individual or family membership! Swim lessons are also available. Go to to learn more! @youngathleticcenter


uites S y s s a Emb The Red Dance, from 2:00 to 3:30 pm.

The City of Norman and Norman Parks & Recreation are excited to announce that one of the largest in the country Daddy Daughter Dances is back!

The Pink Dance, from 4:30 to 6:00 pm. The Blue Dance, from 7:00 to 8:30 pm

All dances are for all ages. Each dance offers the same entertainment and amenities, including complimentary snacks and refreshments. Daddy and daughters must have a ticket to enter the dance. Tickets are $20. Tickets and t-shirts can be purchased online at the link below!

TICKETS ON SALE NOW! Reserve a room the night of the dance! Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center 2501 Conference Drive, Norman

The dances will sell out, so purchase NOW! Use Code "DDD" @normanokparks


what’s inside



13 What’s Happening

Norman’s community calendar for February

14 Early Education Expansion NPS adds early childhood education programs.

18 Kaleidoscope Grief Support

Helping local youth navigate grief.

22 A Premier Project

Young Family Athletic Center set to elevate recreational opportunities.

24 Amidst the Action

Ortho Central opens orthopedic clinic, physical therapy and sports performance center.

28 SPUD Week 2024

Norman North students annual philanthropy event.


36 New Season, New Home, Same Goal Sooner softball goes for a four-peat in their new stadium.

on the cover

44 Prep Sports Update Tiger and Timberwolf basketball

48 OG&E



What you need to know about the OG&E Initiative Petition.

February 2024 • Issue 2 • Volume 23

50 Mapping the Heart

Cardiac electrophysiologist brings life-saving care to community.

54 20 Years of Toby & TJ

The T-Row in the Morning show celebrates its 20th anniversary.



8 ways to boost your mood without spending a penny.

58 Joe’s Wine & Spirits Cans, corks & closures

Grand Opening


62 3rd Annual Common Ground Coffee Festival

Annual festival brings people together to support a local cause, celebrates a unique blend of culture & commerce.

66 Service Spotlight Lydia Means



Sooner Softball

New Season, New Home

20 Years

Toby & TJ

30 Porter & the Portal

48 @boydstreet

How Porter Moser navigated the college basketball transfer portal to field a new-and-improved Sooner team.

Cover photo by: Mark Doescher

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Roxanne Avery | Lindsay Cuomo Kathy Hallren | Shannon Hudzinski Rae Lynn Payton | Chris Plank

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Casey Vinyard

BOYD STREET 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.















Men’s Basket bal l - 2 /6 vs BY U • 2 /1 0 vs OSU • 2 /1 7 vs Ka nsa s Women’s Basket bal l - 2 /1 4 vs Bay lo r • 2 /2 4 vs OSU • 2 /2 8 vs Texa s Women’s Gym - 2 /9 vs BYU, Uta h St & TW U • 2 /2 3 vs W. Vi rg i ni a Men’s Gym – 2 /3 vs Ohio St ate & A r i zo na State • 2 /1 0 fo r Ca l & Si m pso n

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NPS Adds Early Childhood Education Programs


eginning in the 2024-2025 school year, Norman Public Schools is expanding its full-day pre-kindergarten program to every elementary school in the district, as well as several other new early education offerings.

“We recognize there are lots of options for families,” Rosales said. “We are so thankful for the opportunity and recognize the responsibility we receive when parents drop off their kids with us. We do not take that lightly.”

“All elementary school sites will now have a full-day opportunity,” confirmed Ann Rosales, director of elementary teaching and learning. “We are very hopeful that we will have a place for every student that wants to attend at their home school or school of choice.”

In the fall, the district is launching a new PreK Building Blocks program, Rosales announced.

In an effort to provide families with a variety of options within Norman Public Schools, Rosales said she and her team are always looking for ways to improve, and several new noteworthy opportunities are coming soon. “When we look at school readiness, those that attend pre-k perform at a much higher rate. We see strong outcomes,” she said. “Our goal is to get all students into a pre-K program, and we are always looking at where we need to expand our opportunities.” Half-day pre-K programs will continue to be an option and the half-day and full-day classes follow the same play-based curriculum. Music and STEM education are also offered daily. Full-day offers additional time for enrichment activities. 14 | February 2024

“This Fall, we are excited to launch a new PreK opportunity that gives parents the flexibility to customize their child’s first school experience,” she explained. “The PreK Building Blocks program will equip families for at-home learning while providing flexible days for the pre-K school experience.” More details regarding participation, curriculum resources and enrollment can be found on the NPS website. Rosales and Jaylynn Richardson, early childhood programs coordinator, shared their excitement about refining and expanding STEM opportunities for pre-K students. “We are working to create an environment of curiosity and truly believe in the power of hands-on learning,” Rosales shared. “We are using research-based, proven strategies to help students grow in STEM and become high-level thinkers.”


Additionally, the district resumed the pre-K program at Grace Skilled Nursing & Therapy, after a temporary hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Celebrating its fifth anniversary this fall, the pre-k program at Grace fosters an intergenerational connection between NPS students and the center’s residents, affectionately called Grandfriends, enhancing the school day with activities such as Move-it Mondays, book buddies and even a weekly ice cream social. “The interactions between our students and our Grandfriends are incredible,” Rosales shared. “The students get to practice social and conversational skills, and they both get to take part in activities that help build fine and gross motor skills, which are important for our students and our Grandfriends.”

HOW TO ENROLL Richardson said the application process is set to begin on Feb. 27. Parents can enroll online at to express their interest in attending an NPS pre-k program and select a preferred placement. A drawing will occur only if enrollment surpasses capacity. Students must be age four on or before September 1, 2023. “We are hosting a community enrollment night for those that need assistance with the enrollment process on Feb. 29,” said Richardson. “Look to social media for more information.” The announcement of placements is scheduled for March 28, and parents will need to confirm enrollment by April 30 by submitting required paperwork including proof of residency and a shot record.– BSM


Medical Assisting applications now open. Visit for details. | 405.801.5000

Franklin Road Campus: 4701 12th Ave. NW, Norman, OK 73069

South Penn Campus: 13301 S. Penn Ave. Oklahoma City, OK 73170



avigating grief is a challenging part of life for people of all ages but especially children. A local nonprofit works to help families see loss differently. Since 2006, Kaleidoscope Grief Support has provided services for those who have lost a loved one. Suzie Price, LPC, FT, is its founder. Her professional counseling career is separate from Kaleidoscope, but leading the organization has been a labor of love. The concept came about in response to the need she recognized in the community. “I was a school counselor at Jefferson Elementary and we had two brothers whose daddy died of a heart attack one weekend. The principal, their teacher and I did the things you do when there’s the loss of a parent; we met with the family, we went to their home, we went to the funeral,” she explained. “Summer passed and school started again in the fall. I contacted their mom and asked about follow-up, but I noticed a difference from the previous school year. They seemed a little bit lighter and more content.” After a few sessions with the boys, Price circled back to their mother, who explained the children had attended a grief camp in Edmond over summer break. “I attended workshops and trainings on children and grief. I talked to a Norman Public Schools counselor, a local chaplain, a hospital chaplain and asked if there was a need for this type of thing,” said Price. “They said there was nothing for children in Norman outside of church or school, nothing in the community.” Price, who completed additional studies and training in death, dying and bereavement, proceeded to spend a week at the Dougy Center in Oregon, one of the foremost grief resources in the country. She gathered information and attended grief support in Houston and Fort Worth.

18 | February 2024

“I felt like God was directing me to pursue this path even though the idea of writing grants and having a board of directors was overwhelming, as I am not a businessperson,” she shared. “Along with Curtis Boyer [a licensed professional counselor with Norman Public Schools], I met with a group of five children and have continued meeting ever since. We now also provide support to their parents.” Group sessions now include about 35 people at a time, including grownups and their children, for eight consecutive weeks. “We got the idea from national conferences that there is a sense of safety and community when there’s a closed group,” said Price. The concept of a kaleidoscope as a changing but beautiful design inspired the organization’s name and provides an integral talking point for consideration. “We provide and look at kaleidoscopes at our first meeting. We observe the image inside and then turn the kaleidoscope, look again and turn it back. Of course, the picture has changed and although you can never go back to the original design it is still beautiful, just as our families are different after loss,” said Price. Kaleidoscope has served more than 550 children through diverse means, without charge. Making services free and accessible would not be possible without the work of counselors on a volunteer basis and the support of funders like United Way of Norman. “We have been so fortunate to have had the cooperation of United Way of Norman for about 10 years now. They were so kind and met with me, walked me through the grant writing process. Over the years, their support has been amazing,” said Price. “They have opened doors for so many more people to know about us and helped directly underwrite program expenses.


“The picture has changed and although you can never go back to the original design it is still beautiful, just as our families are different after loss,” Suzie Price, founder.

“What is raised through United Way of Norman stays here in Norman.” Price also cites United Way’s accountability as a standout feature of its enduring legacy, with an excellent reputation for investing in the same community where donors live. “A donation of between $75 and $100 makes an eightweek session possible for an attendee,” said Price. First Baptist Church also supplies the group’s meeting space at no charge. The group is not faith-based in order to be inclusive and although they meet in a church, the program is independent. “We have 12 volunteers that meet with our groups. They are background checked, trained and committed to what we do,” said Price. “Children often seek support from peers, but they don’t have the context or history of loss. At school, their friends might be kind but don’t know how to support a grieving classmate. Within our groups, the magic is twofold: first, the child is entering a group of kids their age who have had a death in their family, and second, they can say anything they want to or not say anything at all. We never criticize or try to take away their grief. Our professionals listen to them and affirm what they are feeling.” Volunteers are always needed. Find more information at – BSM

Suzie Price with Tiffani Dilworth, a speaker at a recent Kaleidscope event.

Monthy non-profit story presented by:

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A PREMIER P ROJ ECT Young Family Athletic Center Set to Elevate Recreational Opportunities

22 | February 2024


he soon-to-open Young Family Athletic Center is expected to elevate opportunities and amenities for area athletes, while also providing a boost to the region’s economy. The stateof-the-art, indoor multi-sports facility is considered a “premier facility” that is expected to attract athletes, residents and visitors to a truly unique space, according to Jason Olsen, the director of parks and recreation for the City of Norman. “There’s not going to be another facility like this in our region,” Olsen said. A ribbon-cutting ceremony is set for Feb. 19 to celebrate the opening of the complex, which spans approximately 122,000 square feet in north Norman. Community input played a crucial role in shaping the design of the complex, intended to cater to a diverse range of citizens. Led by the city, the athletic center represents a community collaboration aimed at enhancing health, wellness, and recreational opportunities in the region. “Multiple people in our community will benefit from us investing in ourselves to make our community better,” Olsen said. Funding for the complex comes from the Norman Forward sales tax, an initiative approved by voters to finance quality-of-life projects, along with a $4 million donation from the Trae Young Family Foundation. The foundation actively supports mental health and wellness initiatives. Trae Young, a Norman native, University of Oklahoma basketball standout and NBA player with the Atlanta Hawks, expressed the family’s commitment to ensuring young athletes have access to “a world-class facility.” “People will now travel to Norman, Oklahoma, to play these indoor sports and also, experience our hotels, restaurants and shopping, among other things that make this city what it is,” the family said in a statement. Part of the funds invested by the Foundation will also help create a scholarship program.


ketball courts with 12 volleyball courts that overlay the basketball courts. Additionally, Norman Regional Health System has developed space within the complex to offer NMotion, a sports and human performance center, and clinic space for a second Ortho Central location in Norman. Other amenities include indoor pickleball courts, concessions, retail space, administrative offices and tournament and team breakout rooms. Residents in the area will also be able to utilize the complex. Monthly and annual memberships are available for individuals and families. For more information about the complex, visit– BSM

YFAC by the numbers: •

122,000 SQUARE FEET - the approximate size of the new Young Family Athletic Center

2 - the number of swimming pools featured at the complex, an 8-lane, 25-yard competition pool and a 4-lane, 25-meter pool

8 - the number of basketball courts at the center

12 - the number of volleyball courts at the complex

$22.5 MILLION - The amount of money funded for the project through the Norman Forward initiative. The total projected budget for the complex is nearly $36 million

The athletic center will feature two pools and a multi-sport gymnasium which houses eight






Ortho Central Opens Orthopedic Clinic, Physical Therapy and Sports Performance Center

n an unusual but innovative move, a medical clinic is set to operate within the same facility where athletes engage in their sports. Thanks to a collaborative effort between Norman Regional Health System, the Trey Young Foundation and the City of Norman, the Young Family Athletic Center will house precisely such a facility. “This project has been an exciting opportunity to work with the Young family and the City of Norman,” shared Heather Kuklinski, who oversees the three departments that will be housed inside the complex. “For a project of this magnitude, it has taken commitment, collaboration and strong leadership to get it done.” Situated between the pool and the multi-sport gymnasium in a two-story space, the facility will encompass a physical therapy clinic, a team of orthopedic surgeons and sports medicine providers as well as a sports and human performance center. Kuklinski emphasized that athletic trainers will be present during many tournaments and competitions.

24 | February 2024

The downstairs area will feature a physical therapy clinic equipped with state-of-the-art amenities, including indoor and outdoor therapy spaces, an anti-gravity treadmill and more. Upstairs, Ortho Central’s sports medicine program will expand from its Tecumseh office, freeing up essential space in the original clinic. NMotion, Norman Regional’s sports and human performance center, will also share the upstairs space, providing a range of services aimed at helping patients achieve their peak performance goals. “All of the spaces have been designed to focus on all levels of healthcare from injury prevention to performance and recovery,” shared Kuklinski. “We are very thankful for all that have been involved to get this to the finish line. It will be incredible for the city of Norman.” To learn more about the services offered, visit or– BSM

The Sooner Theatre’s Armstrong Bank Studio Series Presents

Book by Joseph Stein Music by Jerry Bock Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick Original Production Directed & Choreographed by Jerome Robbins Based on Sholem Aleichem's stories, by special permission of Arnold Perl

*Featuring a cast of 8th-12th grade students

March 1-3

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COMMUNITY AMENITIES 24 hour fitness gym Club house “I moved in nearly a month ago and I love it! Clean, quiet, and friendly apartments. The "little things" make a big difference such as trash pick-up and proactive maintenance. I definitely recommend The Falls.”

Swimming pool Business center On-site maintenance

A MOVE-IN DAY DESERVING OF A SELFIE! When it’s the “little things” that matter, you’ll love The Falls (405) 701-8233 3730 W Rock Creek Rd, Norman



SP U D WEEK 20 24


PUD Week is an annual tradition at Norman North High School, one of fun and philanthropy. Students plan a variety of activities, with the goal of raising money for local families and organizations in need in the Norman community. This year, students enjoyed a mix of new events along with some annual favorites including a golf tournament, movie night, dodgeball, talent show and a lip sync battle. This year, the student-led initiative raised $206,764.15, propelling the total funds raised over the years to more than $2 million. SPUD’s 2024 beneficiaries are Leavyn, a 6-year-old with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia; Michael Mohr, 1998 Norman North alumni diagnosed with Glioblastoma brain tumor; Sofia, a 7-year-old with Aicardi Goutieres Syndrome; Mary Abbott Children’s House and Bridges Norman. For several years, students have put an emphasis on community service, shared Logan Curtis, SPUD advisor and teacher at Norman North. This year, students dedicated 1,823 hours to serving in the Norman community. “That is something we are very proud of,” Curtis said.

28 | February 2024

SPUD Week, which stands for students performing unselfish deeds, started in 2001. For those interested in learning more about SPUD Week, visit– BSM



f there has been one constant for University of Oklahoma head basketball coach Porter Moser, that constant has been change. In the transfer portal era of college basketball, the third-year coach has had to rebuild his roster each season to compete at the highest level. Now, as Oklahoma hits the heart of conference play, it looks as if the 2023-24 Sooners may have Moser’s most impressive roster as they attempt to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 2020-2021 season. To truly understand the wild nature of the roster changes the Sooners have faced, only one player remains on the Sooners’ roster from the first season when Moser took over. More recently, only five players remain from the 15-member 2022-23 Oklahoma basketball roster. That’s 75 percent of the Sooners’ scoring and rebounding production gone from a team that was 15-17 and in last place in the Big 12. The glass-half-full crowd would argue that the Sooners are better off rebuilding because the players leaving weren’t able to get the job done, and so far, this season, they have been right. Javion McCollum, John Hughley IV and Jalon Moore have added instant athleticism and offense to a group that has seen seven of its top nine scorers added in the transfer portal. Moser told us about the improved portal haul from day one, and now it’s playing out as he projected. “We’re noticeably playing faster, we’re more athletic, we’re long,” Moser said. “I think we’re deeper. We can go into the bench and have some guys that have played a lot of college basketball.” As the portal continues to be a dominating topic in college sports, understanding and embracing the portal, retention and talent are all key elements to having success in the portal.

Photos by: Mark Doescher


PORTER & the PORTAL s o o n er m en’s b a sket b a ll

The NCAA’s transfer portal opened Oct. 15, 2018, and, according to the NCAA, the portal was created as a “compliance tool to systematically manage the transfer process from start to finish, add more transparency to the process among schools and empower student-athletes to make known their desire to consider other programs.” In simpler terms, it is a database that allows coaches to know who is available and who is not.

30 | February 2024

Javion McCollum



The portal took on a much bigger role in 2021 when the NCAA allowed a one-time transfer without a oneyear penalty in several sports including football, men’s and women’s basketball, baseball and men’s hockey. The website labeled the transfer portal in college basketball as College Basketball’s most powerful force. Transfer rates in men’s basketball have steadily risen, more than doubling over the last six years. Over 1,600 players entered the portal in both 2021 and 2022. This year, all 32 Division I conferences saw at least 15% of their players enter the portal. Six conferences (NEC, American, American East, Ohio Valley, MAC and MAAC) surpassed the 30% mark. “Absolutely, it is more difficult with the transfer portal. It’s hard because everybody wants the quick fix, if you’re not playing right away, the grass is greener somewhere else,” Moser said. “But unequivocally, I’m not changing directions. What I mean by that is, just because it’s more difficult to build a program doesn’t mean I’ve stopped believing in what I believe in.”

EMBRACE AND ADJUST In the eyes of Moser, retention is a major key to having success in the portal. As important as it is to bring in talented players, having a foundation of players who understand your culture makes rebuilding as seamless as it can be for new arrivals. “When you get to keep those key pieces, the new guys coming have guys that say this is how we do it, instead of starting from fresh right out of the gate,” Moser said. The key foundational pieces for the Sooners have been Milos Uzan and Otega Oweh. After seeing significant playing time last year, both have emerged as trusted leaders and contributors. Add in what Sam Godwin has brought to the program in his two seasons and Oklahoma has been able to retain the talent necessary. “Milos and Otega were thrown in last year as freshmen... they both started by the end of the year. We were the only team in the Big 12 that did that. Sam Godwin got a lot of minutes,” Moser said of his core. “Those three coming back set the expectations. The new guys that we brought in were veterans and we recruited to that DNA. They came together in the summer, and it was intentional on both parts.” That intentionality helped lead OU to its best start to a season since the 2015-16 season. The 10-0 Sooner start tied for the seventh-best start in program history with the 1991-92 and 2003-04 seasons. 32 | February 2024

CJ Moore covers college basketball for The Athletic and has been impressed with what Moser has done in the portal this season. “I think it’s hard to build something sustainable, but I think he’s learned the combination of player that fits him and fits the league,” Moore said of Porter. “If you look up and down that roster, the athleticism and quickness is better than they’ve had in years past and I think it’s the reason they’ve turned things around.”

THE SUCCESS Easily one of the biggest positives for Sooner hoops is the addition of Fort Myers, Florida product Javion McCollum. McCollum came to Norman by way of Siena, which was his only Division I offer out of Fort Myers High. He averaged 6.7 points and 1.8 assists per game in 23 appearances as a freshman. He doubled those numbers as a sophomore after becoming a starter for the Saints. In 2022-23, McCollum put up 15.9 points and 3.9 assists across 25 starts. “I’ve always believed in myself because of the hard work I put in,” McCollum said. “I believe in myself, I believe in my teammates, I believe in my coaching staff and we’re all in it together. We all want to win.” McCollum has been an instant contributor and difference-maker as a Sooner, and each time he steps on the court he’s gotten better. “The journey is always exciting, even when I was at Siena, it was exciting to see basketball at that level,” he said. “And now I’m at Oklahoma seeing what it’s like at this level. I’m enjoying the journey and just taking it all in.” McCollum has enjoyed the chemistry in the Sooner locker room and has provided solid on-the-court results. “We have a great group of guys that are willing to do everything,” McCollum said. “They know their roles, I think that’s a big part of our team, everyone knows their roles. When you have a group of guys like that, the sky’s the limit.” Despite stops in Loudonville, New York and now Norman, McCollum has not forgotten his roots. In Fort Myers, he was a member of the growing ministry group “Hoops On A Mission”, an organization that uses basketball as a vessel for life lessons and personal growth for children and teens. “I want to set an example for those kids back home, to see that there is more,” McCollum said. “If you work hard, you can achieve anything in this world.”

“With the transfer portal, there’s a lot of turnover,” Moser said. “We can talk about the negatives, but the positives are you can add key additions. We feel like we have.” THE FUTURE For everyone who has a complaint or a disdain for the transfer portal and what it has done to college sports, stories like Javion McCollum remind you that it can and does work. It also isn’t going anywhere, and Moser has embraced it. “It’s about development, about instilling your culture, then it’s about retaining them,’” Moser said. “Then you’ve got to combine that with upgrading your talent every year to get your roster right.” The NCAA recently adjusted the length of time in which the portal is open, cutting it from 60 to 45 days and adjusting the dates by sport. But the fact that you can still transfer multiple times without sitting out a year will make it tougher to slow down player movement. “The rulings recently have made it tough and opened up the second transfers. It’s going to set us up where

Jalon Moore

no one has to sit,” CJ Moore from the Athletic said. “You’ll have this wild free agency year in and year out and it will be up to coaches to get the right guys in the program that you can keep around the program.” Despite the constantly evolving rosters and ever-changing landscape involving player movement, Moser has stayed true to what he believes. And while the fight continues to return to the NCAA Tournament, Moser still looks to find talent that features the right character. “With all the factors involved, you still try to combine your character, what you believe in, the work ethic and toughness with talent and athletic ability,” Moser said. “Let’s not get it twisted, you need talent. It’s ok to want to be a pro. I want guys who want to be a pro... I want guys that want to achieve the highest level, but you want them to be invested in their journey of getting better and winning for the University of Oklahoma.”– BSM BOYD STREET MAGAZINE | 33


Jayda Coleman

Tiare Jennings

36 | February 2024



he Oklahoma Sooner softball team is in the midst of a historic run. During this dynastic stretch, the Sooners have won three straight and seven of the last nine National Championships. They also enter the 2024 season riding a record-setting, 53game winning streak and feature a roster that includes 10 seniors. But despite all its accomplishments, the best may still be yet to come as the Sooners open the year as preseason favorites while playing in a new stadium.

s o o n er s of t b a ll p review

New Season New Home Same Goal

It might be hard to fathom that the Sooners could actually be “better” when you consider the overall numbers from last season. Oklahoma won its third straight National Championship last season after posting a 61-1 record, which was good for the best winning percentage (.984) in NCAA Division I history. Twenty-eight of the team’s 61 wins came via run rule, as the Sooners outscored opponents 50159. OU registered a nation-leading and school-record 35 shutouts and threw four no-hitters. Add into the equation the transfer of Jory Bahl to Nebraska and the graduation of standout shortstop Grace Lyons, it would be hard to imagine any team being better than what the Sooners were in 2023. Despite all the accolades, the Sooners did not spend the offseason shining up awards while relaxing and counting trophies. Head coach Patty Gasso and the staff spent the offseason adding to its already talented and deep roster with one of the top recruiting and portal classes in the nation.

STAR-STUDDED LINEUP Competition has been a cornerstone of Sooner softball in the Gasso era. Despite returning a group of position players that have started 872 games in a Sooner uniform, there is competition for several key positions in the lineup.


Rylie Boone

38 | February 2024

But there are certain areas that the Sooners feel very confident. “Not everything is up for grabs... some of these positions are pretty locked in,” Coach Gasso said of a returning lineup that includes consistent starters at eight of nine positions. “Kinzie Hansen is going to be the lead behind the plate, but I have a very viable option in Riley Ludlam who can do a good job when we need to give Kinzie a break. Riley can also swing it well.” Hansen returns for her final season in a Sooner uniform after winning the Johnny Bench Award as the best college softball catcher. Hansen is one of 10 Sooners playing their final season in Norman. Included in that group is one of the most electric players in college softball, center fielder Jayda Coleman. Coleman has started every game of her career in a Sooner uniform and is a 3-time, first-team All-American. In boosting her power numbers to a career-high 17 home runs last year, Coleman was named the Big 12 Player of the Year. Tiarre Jennings returns as a fellow 3-time, first-team All-American, has been named to the College World Series All-Tournament team in each of her three seasons, and is the career record holder for career RBI in the College World Series. Riley Boone is back in the outfield after her most productive season in a Sooner uniform which included being named to the WCWS All-Tournament team. After hitting a career-high 17 home runs and being named a first-team All-American, third baseman Alyssa Brito returns along with Cydney Sanders and Alynah Torres who both became regular starters during their first season at OU. There might not be a more impressive group of returning players to one team in college softball since the early 90s for Arizona and UCLA. Despite the amount of talent and stars that return, Gasso has challenged her players to continue to fight and grind for an opportunity. “You might not win a position on defense, but maybe you’re a great runner - you’re going to do something to help us win,” Gasso said. “I do feel like I’m able to move people in and out and potentially empty the bench every single game. I’m looking forward to that. “Part of it is the mindset, it’s the maturity of the team first and the mindset of saying even though I’m not the starter on day one, I’m still going to show you and I’m going to fight. I want them to prove me wrong. My goal is to keep them all pushing because they are all capable.” It’s not just the returning production on offense that

brings a ton of talent to the Sooners in their fight for four in a row. The Sooners signed one of the top recruiting classes in the country and it did not take long during Fall Ball to realize that Kasidi Pickering and Ella Parker have a chance to contribute from day one. “I worked so hard to get Kassidy Pickering here because she has amazing leadership qualities...I don’t know if you see a leader play centerfield but, on her team, she was and she pitched,” Gasso said of the Humble, Texas product. “She’s very confident in her abilities and doesn’t listen to the noise. She is very strong and mature for her age. She will absolutely be vying for a start spot along with Ella Parker.” One glaring piece is missing from the last five seasons in Norman. Standout shortstop Grace Lyons exhausted her eligibility after one of the most consistent and spectacular careers in Sooner history. The playmaking shortstop was awarded the gold glove last season and finished her Sooner career ranking in the top 10 of several statistical categories including home runs and runs batted in. Lyons was the Sooner captain last season and was as smooth of a fielder as Oklahoma has ever seen at shortstop. It will be hard to replace Lyons. In fact, she is such a challenging player to replace that there will not necessarily be one player who will be challenged with doing so. “Everybody wants to know who is going to be the next shortstop and the answer is going to be more than one person. You can be assured that Alyssa (Brito) and Tiarre (Jennings) will always be in the lineup,” Gasso said. “The beauty is Brito is so good at 3rd base, but she is good at shortstop. Tiarre is so good at 2nd but she’s good at shortstop and their experience is beyond anyone else on the team. Then you’ve got both Quincee Lilio and Avery Hodge. Avery could play second or short and be great. Q could be a very good 2nd baseman.” Bottom line for Gasso and the lineup in 2024? “You’re gonna see different looks in different positions,’ she said.

THE NEW-LOOK PITCHING STAFF Despite the turnover in the overall pitching staff, standout pitching coach Jenn Rocha remains. Rocha helped lead a staff that led the nation in ERA and had three pitchers on the All-Big 12 team. Under Rocha’s guidance, it will be a new-look rotation with a dose of familiarity. BOYD STREET MAGAZINE | 39

While the Sooners said goodbye to Jordy Bahl and Alex Storako, the Sooner pitching staff welcomed back veteran Nicole May, along with standout youngster Kiersten Deal and the rapidly improving SJ Guerin. To replace the exits of Storako and Bahl, the Sooners loaded up in the transfer portal including grabbing one of the best pitchers in college softball from its archrivals, adding Kelly Maxwell from Oklahoma State. “It was weird at first,” Maxwell said about adjusting to life at OU. “But I’m feeling more comfortable and getting to know (my teammates) a lot better now.” Maxwell joins the Sooners after a stellar career in Stillwater that included a career 1.58 ERA, 58 career wins and 746 career strikeouts. “I wouldn’t say anything surprised me,” Maxwell said of the transition to Oklahoma. “I always knew of the program just being down the road, but I always respected how hard they worked, their blue-collar mentality and the love for the game that they played on the field, and it shows every day. That’s kind of what attracted me here.” Maxwell joins a talented group of transfers that includes Paytn Monticelli from Wisconsin and Liberty ace Karlie Keeny. The Sooners’ impressive haul in the portal is a product of players wanting to get better and be coached by the best. “They want to be coached by the elite Jen Rocha,” Gasso said. “I think that means a lot to them. I think from afar some of these guys, they see our culture, and it’s very intriguing to them.” Keeney managed a 2.61 ERA and 27-12 record in 2023. Keeney dealt seven innings and allowed one run, an unearned one, on five hits in the Flames’ 1-0 loss to the Sooners on Feb. 9. She also helped Liberty eliminate No. 2 UCLA in the NCAA Los Angeles Regional with a one-run, seven-hit complete game outing on May 20. Monticelli pitched 21 games for the Badgers last season, starting 13 of them. The Cedarburg, Wisconsin, native recorded a 2.71 ERA and 82 strikeouts in 80 innings. The meshing of the group was not immediate during the fall, but it started to come together as the fall season concluded. “It took a while to get everyone together and gel because we have so many new faces and Karlie was out for the fall,” Gasso said of the group coming together. 40 | February 2024

“Kelly Maxwell got much better as we got through the end of the semester. Monticelli came from a tough situation in Wisconsin and is trying to find herself here and is making good strides. She’s going to help us. Add the returning of Kierston Deal, the steady force of Nicole May and SJ had a good offseason, we have six pitchers and all very viable options. “I don’t know who our ace is... Someone is going to step forward and be that person.”

LOVES FIELD In a lot of ways, the 2024 season is one of finality – it is the last season for 10 record-setting Sooner seniors and the final season in the Big 12 before the Sooners move to the SEC for the 2025 season. But it is also a season that marks a new era in Sooner softball and a new beginning. When the Sooners open the 2024 home schedule, they will do so in the brand-new, state-of-the-art Loves Field. Loves Field spans 44,000 square feet, doubling the seating capacity of Marita Hynes Field, with a 10,000-square-foot indoor practice facility. “Every day you get reminded that you started over at Reaves Park. And now we’re going to a palace and it’s just hard to comprehend,” Gasso said of the new facility. “But it’s what has been built from the ground up and so many athletes are a part of it. “I can’t wait to bring all of the alums back in so they can be part of it and watch these guys just shine on that.” Even with a new stadium and the weight of incredible expectations, the focus and goal have not changed. “The Championship Mindset” will continue to guide the University of Oklahoma softball program as it chases history and does so with a foundation set in hard work and preparation. “Confidence. Hard work. Humility. Things that I don’t know if you find in programs anymore,” Gasso said of the Sooner softball approach. “They’re searching for excellence. It’s why I coach. It’s why they love to play here. Fans are drawn to it. We won’t ever change who we are.”– BSM

Kenzie Hansen




Owen Eshelman



The Norman Tigers made their 6A State Tournament return last season, the first time since a runner-up finish in 2000. Now, Norman wants to make this a regular occurrence. Several of the flashes of that potential were on display during the Tigers’ championship march through the Joe Lawson Memorial Invitational Tournament in December. Norman toppled the OKC Storm, Putnam City North and Norman North en route to the tourney crown. Behind veteran star forward Trashaun Combs-Pierce and a supporting cast that is constantly improving, a return trip to the state tournament is something Tiger fans can envision. “(Trashaun is) a utility knife,” Norman head boys basketball coach Cory Cole said “He does so many things well. He’s scoring, he’s defending, protecting the paint. He’s one of our best playmakers. He’s our energy guy.” It’s the growth in Trashaun Combs-Pierce’s leadership that has pleased his coach the most.

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“Just seeing him take on more of a leadership role, be more consistent on both ends and also in the huddles, that’s been the biggest reassurance for me,” Cole said. “We’ve got a lot on his shoulders and he’s not running from that.” The 6-foot-7 forward is joined on the Tigers’ frontline by junior forwards Isaiah Amous (6’5”) and Matt Kalinski (6’3”) as well as senior forward Hunter Miller (6’6”). “We can play different ways, which is good, being very versatile,” Cole said. “They’re very good at rebounding. They’re very good in press situations, pick-and-roll and switching.” Junior BJ Randle (6’3”) doubles between Norman’s front and backcourts. On the perimeter, he’s joined by senior guard Tony Jefferson (6’) and sophomores Gideon Holt (5’10”), Beau Billingsley (6’1”), Montrel Combs-Pierce (6’1”) and Addox Sanders (6-foot-2). An injury to junior guard Phoenix Murphy opened the door for that group of sophomores to be featured more prominently and Cole says they’ve handled it well.

BY: JOSH HELMER “They’ve done a good job of every day coming in, putting in the work,” he said. “We need them to be playing as juniors and that’s been our goal in practice - every day getting better. The future is bright with those guys.” That youth is one of the biggest reasons for optimism as the season enters its final stretch. As the Tigers embark upon another march toward the state tournament, learning that the defensive end can be fun has been pivotal. “We spent a ton of time over Christmas break just going through the analytics and watching a ton of film and teaching the game,” Cole said. “They’re seeing that defense is kind of fun. It takes the pressure off your offense.” NORMAN NORTH BOYS BASKETBALL After a one-season absence, Norman North looks to battle its way back into the 6A State Tournament this spring. In its two tournaments this season, the Timberwolves flashed the type of play that will be required for a serious postseason run in spurts. North advanced to the tournament finals of both the Joe Lawson Memorial Invitational Tournament and the Putnam City Invitational before falling to Norman High and Midwest City in December and January, respectively. “Defensively, I think we’ve been good,” Norman North head boys basketball coach Kellen McCoy said of his squad. “We’ve got good size and some good ability that allows us to make people uncomfortable. I think that’s probably the thing that we do best right now is making it hard for teams to score. We’re able to change defenses and do some different things that cause teams to slow down a little bit and take some tough shots. “Offensively, I feel like we’ve got to continue to improve and figure out different ways to score.” In the backcourt, senior guard Noah Jones (6’2”) runs the show. He’s joined by junior guards Luke Bauman (6’4”), Hezekiah Green (6’3”) and Owen Eshelman (6’3”). “Our point guard, Noah Jones, does a great job of facilitating and handling the ball,” McCoy said. “We’ve got Luke Bauman, Hezekiah Green and Owen Eshelman that play on the wing for us that do a really good job of scoring and attacking and making plays.” In the interior, North has been led by sophomore Tracy Leslie (6’3”) and juniors Monte Hines (6’ 7”), Max Moser (6’3”) and Rylan Phillips (6’4”). “They all do a really good job for us on the inside. I think the four of those guys give us a lot of different looks,” McCoy said. “They give us a little bit of variety where we can change things offensively or

sively. Monte’s very, very hard to guard individually in the paint, so he causes a lot of double teams and we’re able to play off of that.” After a tough stretch with several early district contests, McCoy is optimistic that his team is rounding into form as the most important games await. “I think the second half (of the season) we can bounce back and win some close games. We’re in a much better rhythm right now,” he said. NORMAN HIGH GIRLS BASKETBALL After advancing to the 6A State Championship game a season ago, Norman High’s girls basketball is looking to put all the pieces together for another postseason push in 2024. With several new faces in key roles, it’s been a season marked by moments of brilliance and expected growing pains. “We are about where we expected to be prior to the season starting. We’re a pretty young group and we’re still learning a lot - learning how to play together and things of that nature,” head coach Frankie Parks said. “We have come a long way since the first game of the season. It’s been great to see our young kids develop and learn how to play together.” Several of the season’s highlights thus far include the Tigers’ two tournament performances. In the annual Joe Lawson Memorial Invitational Tournament back in December, Norman advanced to the championship game versus Putnam City North, after wins over Lawton MacArthur and an overtime triumph over Midwest City. Norman is led by junior Keeley Parks and the 5-foot11 guard is regarded as one of the nation’s prized recruits. Per ESPN, Keeley Parks is a five-star recruit and the country’s No. 19 overall player in the 2025 cycle. She is joined in the Tigers’ backcourt by freshman Bailey Johnson (5’5”), sophomore Ady Hybl (5’5”) and junior Gabi Lee (5’7”). Frankie Parks said Hybl’s performance in the MidFirst Classic to open January was the best three-game stretch that Hybl has had in terms of her ability to control the game’s pace and her decision-making. He also raved about Lee’s defensive work and her burgeoning offensive game. Similarly, he praised Johnson’s defensive contributions and described her as “an effort kid.” “Those kids are growing, and it’s been fun to watch them grow into who they are currently, knowing that they’re only going to continue to get better,” he said of his backcourt. On its frontline, there’s one primary name to highlight in junior forward Destinee Deer. The 5-foot-10 big provides some versatility for Norman. BOYD STREET MAGAZINE | 45

“She’s an undersized big, but she holds her own,” Frankie Parks said. “She’s a tough, aggressive kid on the defensive side. She’s stepped up to that challenge. On the offensive side, she’s got great footwork in the post, but being undersized sometimes allows her to step out to the perimeter.” Frankie Parks celebrated his team’s willingness to be coachable. “They’re very receptive to everything that’s being taught to them. It’s made it a pretty good environment for us,” Frankie Parks said. As the offensive end of the floor continues to grow, Parks has been hammering home the need for his group to remain committed on the defensive end for the season’s final stretch run. “We have to continue to defend at a high level. When we’re all locked in and everybody’s head is on a swivel, we’re really good on that defensive side,” he said. “For us to continue to have success throughout the remainder of this year, we’re going to have to stay locked in defensively. If we do that, we’ll have some success along the way.” NORMAN NORTH GIRLS BASKETBALL The Norman North girls basketball team advanced to the 6A State Tournament a season ago as well. The Timberwolves’ season came to a close at the hands of the Norman Tigers in a quarterfinal loss. The return of North’s talented group of juniors with an always-improving cast of underclassmen has the T-Wolves thinking about a state tournament encore. In one of the defining moments of the season’s first half, Norman North went to Norman High and handled the aforementioned Tigers in a 60-50 win on Dec. 15. Junior guard Seleh Harmon (5’10”) and junior forward Olivia Watkins (6’1”) have continued their ascents for head coach Al Beal. “I love their aggressiveness on the offensive end. But, when I say they’re aggressive, that doesn’t just necessarily mean shooting the ball,” Beal said. “Attacking the basket, sharing the ball with open teammates, they’ve been a pleasure to coach.” The Harmon and Watkins duo is joined by fellow junior guard Whitney Wollenberg. The 5-foot-5 junior helps space the floor with her shooting, but it’s what she’s doing on the other end of the equation that has impressed her coach the most. “Whitney brings that toughness,” Beal said. “She reminds me a little bit of Kelbie Washington, just in terms of the way she can change the complexion of the game on the defensive end. She sets her teammates up and handles a whole lot of the pressure.” 46 | February 2024

Olivia Watkins

Sophomore guard Kenzie Clouse (5’8”) and sophomore forward Lydia Plummer (5’10”) have both elevated their games during the 2023-24 campaign. Plummer transferred over from Norman High and has been a key addition for the T-Wolves. “Lydia brings a toughness inside,” Beal said. “We lost Hannah Fields and Avery Robins from last year and they were our inside players. (Lydia is) very young in terms of playing experience at a varsity level. She’s having her ups and her downs, but I think this is going to be a real breakout year for her.” Freshman guard Camille Mason has impressed as well. “She can shoot it. That’s probably her biggest strength,” Beal said. “She’s been thrust into playing time due to injuries. As a freshman, I think she’s going to benefit from all the blows she’s having to take early because she progressively has gotten better with each game.” – BSM


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n the ballot in the upcoming special election on March 5, Norman voters can cast their vote on an agreement with Oklahoma Gas & Electric (OG&E). The measure would reinstate access to repair powerlines and other equipment in public rights of way, according to OG&E officials. Without an agreement, OG&E would have to go through the city government permitting process each time they need to work on the grid which could significantly delay restoration efforts. OG&E serves 50,434 customers in Norman, using approximately 14,000 poles, seven substations, 767 overhead conductor miles and 386 underground distribution miles. The deadline to register to vote in this special election is Feb. 9; the deadline to request an absentee ballot is Feb. 19. WHAT DOES A “YES” VOTE MEAN? In any situation where a customer loses power – a car hits a pole, storm damage, or a streetlight is out – OG&E crews would have access to rights of way where powerlines and other equipment are installed so linemen can swiftly and safely restore power to homes and businesses. The agreement would be in place for 25 years, which would allow OG&E to continue making long-term investments in the community and infrastructure, explained Alba Weaver, senior manager of local and community affairs for OG&E.

Constitution requires electoral approval of all franchise agreements so operating without the agreement would put both the City of Norman and OG&E in violation of the state constitution. The agreement has nothing to do with negotiating terms for rates, infrastructure, energy mix or vegetation management.– BSM


OG&E is Oklahoma’s largest and oldest electric company, providing power to 894,000 customers in Oklahoma and western Arkansas. The total financial impact of OG&E in Norman is approximately $9.2 million, which includes $6.7 million in municipal franchise fees and sales tax and $1.8 million in property taxes.

A “no” vote” means OG&E linemen would have to obtain permits from the City of Norman each time they need to work on the grid and equipment that power homes and businesses in Norman. The Oklahoma

For more information about how OG&E supports Norman, visit

For perspective, when an outage occurs, average restoration times across the industry range between 150 and 170 minutes, nationally. From July 1, 2023 to January 13, 2024, the average restoration of outages affecting the downtown area of Norman was 67 minutes.

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VOTE ‘YES’ FOR THE LINEMEN . Access to build,

improve and repair electric infrastructure

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MAPPING THE HEART Cardiac Electrophysiologist Brings Life-Saving Care to Community


rrhythmias, abnormalities in the heart’s rhythm causing it to beat too fast or too slow, affect 1 in 50 Americans under 65 and about 1 in 10 over 65, according to the Arrhythmia Alliance, a coalition focused on education and awareness. Atrial fibrillation (AFib), the most common type of arrhythmia, can increase a person’s risk for stroke. The Centers for Disease Control estimate that AFib causes one in seven strokes. Dr. Robin Singh, MD, a board-certified cardiologist specializing in cardiac electrophysiology and the treatment of various cardiac arrhythmias, recently joined Norman Regional’s Heart and Vascular Associates. He aims to help build the cardiac electrophysiology program within the health system and attributes his choice to join Norman Regional to strong administrative support and an excellent core staff “well experienced at taking care of patients,” he said. “In the past, patients with these needs were referred to specialists in the OKC area,” Dr. Singh explained. “This program is a new opportunity for patients to be able to maintain providers within one network. “From my years of training, it is always better for patients to have their care under one network because it streamlines their care.” Dr. Singh employs a series of tests to map the heart’s electrical signals, utilizing technology that allows him to see in real-time what is happening inside a patient’s heart. “The procedures let us visualize the internal anatomy

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and electrical information of the heart,” he shared. “The way I like to describe it is we use a specialized catheter like a paintbrush and create a 3D virtual model of the patient’s heart. We are able to obtain information about how healthy each part of the patient’s heart is in real time.” This vital information aids doctors in locating the source of the problem and determining how to correct it. Dr. Singh notes that a person’s risk of developing arrhythmia is influenced by age, lifestyle and genetics. Smoking, alcohol consumption, caffeine intake, high blood pressure and lack of sleep can trigger symptoms, which include lightheadedness, extreme fatigue, shortness of breath and chest pain. Dr. Singh credits his family for his interest in becoming a physician. “My parents have been incredible role models. They are both doctors - my father was in cardiology; my mother in internal medicine,” he said. “Growing up around them and watching them every day had a huge influence on my career arc. In addition, I was blessed with the opportunity to work with several fantastic educators who helped me along the way.” Outside of medicine, Dr. Singh enjoys art, travel and watching sports, especially Duke basketball. He attended Duke University before medical school at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Medicine. Most recently, he completed a clinical cardiac electrophysiology fellowship at Brigham & Women’s Hospital at Harvard Medical School. – BSM



oby Rowland and TJ Perry have been waking up Oklahoma for 20 years, a milestone accomplishment in an industry that is known for change. As the morning team on the Ref Radio Network, Toby and TJ continue to be entertaining and informative with great guests and a whole lot of fun. “I remember very early on thinking that this guy has the same sense of humor that I have,” Toby said. “But, in my opinion, we really bonded in 2007 and 2008 when the Thunder thing happened. “That was hard on me and my family. TJ was so steady and supportive. We developed a deeper friendship going through that which has continued to grow. I can’t imagine ever doing a show with anyone else. He’s my guy!” In 2007, Toby was offered the opportunity to become a sideline reporter for the Thunder Radio Network but was not allowed to take the job due to his contractual situation at the time. In the end, the dynamic duo solidified, and Toby was eventually named as the sideline reporter for the Sooner Radio Network. Today, he is the Voice of the Sooners. “Our team is so excited to celebrate 20 years of the T-Row in the Morning Show,” said Casey Vinyard, owner of KREF. “Toby and TJ bring so much joy to our mornings. They truly set the foundation for the KREF lineup and are so beloved by the KREF Army.

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“They are both amazing entertainers and even better people.” What might be most impressive is how fresh and entertaining the show continues to be. It is challenging to spend 20 years in a world that demands you be at your best every day. Toby and TJ have excelled at making the show a fun, almost family event. In fact, the 20-year mark was a goal that TJ set for himself when he started working in radio. “Twenty years on a morning show is the one goal I set for myself going into radio,” he shared. “I didn’t set out necessarily thinking I would go into sports talk. Originally, I thought I would end up working at a country or rock station. “My one goal was to somehow end up on a morning show that people wanted to listen for a good laugh.” Toby credits TJ’s patience for the show having the incredible staying power that it maintains to this day. “Our longevity speaks to TJ’s patience and his ability to put up with my nonsense over and over and over again,” Toby said. “He’s the glue that has held this thing together. “In addition to being hilarious and endlessly entertaining, he is consistent and reliable. TJ has been the gravitational force around which our show has orbited for two decades.”


KREF prides itself as the home of Sooner Fans and its foundation is set on not just Sooner sports, but sports in general. But what makes the T-Row in the Morning show so special is its ability to dive into topics not necessarily related to what’s going on in the field of play. “My favorite thing is how many times we’ve been having a random conversation about everyday things, and it spins into a roaring debate that all of the listeners get sucked into,” Toby said. “Chili with beans or no beans? Is pimento cheese tremendous or terrible? Am I too old to wear my hat backward? Who would win a fight between an alligator and a tiger? And so on.” The ability to mix serious sports conversations with irreverent debates is what has made Toby and TJ a must listen. “Toby and TJ’s commitment to promoting Brown O’Haver has been a key factor in the growth of our company over the past 10 years. However, more than any business relationship is the friendship we have developed with these guys. They are excellent partners for us and better friends. Alice and I congratulate them both on 20 years of radio excellence!” One of the best days of the year is “Joe C. Day” on the TRow in the Morning Show, a day when OU Vice President and Sooner Athletic Director Joe Castiglione spends the day at a local breakfast establishment talking with Toby, TJ and fans of the show. It is a product of not just the incredible bond that Toby and TJ have created with the listeners of the show but also the community and

the University of Oklahoma as well. “Twenty years together on the radio is simply remarkable. Listening to Toby and TJ day after day is a treat,” Castiglione said. “Their chemistry is undeniable and the entertainment they bring to listeners is unmatched in our market. “Every segment, every topic, every disagreement – and every Twitter poll – is sure to create conversation. I’ve loved every opportunity I’ve had to go on the show and I’m grateful to count both Toby and TJ as friends.” Toby and TJ are a special combination because they make you feel like you are a part of their world, a part of their family. They make you feel like you’re right there with them in everything they do. If it’s Perry catching grief from Toby over his lake house or his circle drive or TJ firing back at Toby for his odd habit of picking up coins during his walk, you feel like you’re part of the fun. You find yourself choosing sides in each argument, just like you would with a family member. Toby and TJ live in your community. Their kids go to school in the same schools your kids attend, and they face the everyday problems that we all face and aren’t afraid to talk about them or poke fun at themselves when they struggle with real-life issues. They’re real, they’re fun, and while they are serious about being entertaining, they don’t take themselves too seriously. Cheers to Toby and TJ, and cheers to another 20 years of making sports radio fun. – BSM BOYD STREET MAGAZINE | 55





ife’s stresses have a way of getting us down, and there are so many ways to unwind to get serotonin levels spiking again. The problem is, many of these outlets, like shopping, eating out and getting a Swedish massage, will set the budget back a bit – or a lot! Take a deep breath and relax. With an open mind and the willingness to try new things, you can lift your spirits for less. Here are 8 ways to boost your mood without spending a penny.

TAKE A WALK IN THE WOODS Nature has the remarkable power to soothe our minds and lift our spirits. Take a walk in the woods and you’ll come home in a far better mindset than you were in when you left.

EAT MORE CHOCOLATE Dark chocolate is a known mood-booster, and it provides other health benefits, too. Look for chocolate having at least 70% cocoa content, and the next time you need a mood lift, take a chocolate break.

PET A FURRY FRIEND When life’s got you down, your pooch can provide the perfect pick-me-up! Give your pet a little extra love when you need to de-stress and you’ll feel your mood lift almost instantaneously.

LISTEN TO MUSIC Ready to jam to a mood lift? Researchers in the Nature Neuroscience journal reported that people’s brains released large amounts of dopamine when they listened to their favorite music. So when you’re feeling blue, tune into a playlist of your best songs and you’ll soon be smiling again.

TAKE A BUBBLE BATH When it’s been a long day at work and you just need to relax, there’s no better place to do it than in the tub. Let the warm, sudsy water wash the tension away and improve your mood. Extra points if you add scented soap and light some candles for a fully immersive experience. 56 | February 2024

MEDITATE Meditation is a powerful tool for finding inner peace. Sit comfortably in a quiet space and focus on your breath or a calming mantra. Free your mind and let go, allowing your thoughts to travel anywhere without judgment.

TUNE YOUR BRAIN Our brains operate in different states of mind at various times, each of which affect our mood. The good news is, you can easily tune your brain using a free audio that automatically tunes it to a certain state of mind. In general, most people find listening to alpha frequencies to be the most relaxing. A quick YouTube search will bring up free audios for you to try for an instant lift.

DIGITAL DETOX Spending hours glued to a screen can leave you feeling moody. For a daily mood boost, challenge yourself to unplug from your devices for an hour or more each day. Use the tips here to boost your mood without spending a penny.

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Corks, Closures & Cans


orks have been the go-to closures for wine bottles for hundreds of years. French wine makers started using cork in the 1700s, replacing oil soaked rag plugs. Corks created a better seal, and was the first step in trying to defeat fraud. Winemakers could burn the seal of the winery on the cork before it was inserted, then apply a wax or foil capsule to the bottle. Purchasers could then examine the cork when presented with the wine to assure the goods were from the specific winery they desired, which is why a sommelier presents the cork. Corks can help detect the possible presence of taint. Wine that is spoiled is often referred to as corked, but while the cause of the spoilage may not be the cork, the defect can be detected by smelling the cork. Of all the closures, corks are also the most environmentally friendly for a variety of reasons including its biodegradable properties. Also, cork trees are not harmed by harvesting, and protect endangered species in the Iberian Peninsula.

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Australian wine makers were among the first to adopt the Stelvin Cap, commonly referred to as a screw top. These caps have a plastic liner to seal the bottle under the cap. Industry claims are that there is less loss to taint, and less leakage with these caps. But in my opinion, screw caps actually leak more often and spoilage rates seem to be about equal. One thing is for sure, they are easier to get off the bottle. Other closures include glass caps, crown caps and plastic corks. Glass caps are found on more expensive wines, and have the attraction of being re-useable. The bottle and cap can be used for infusions after the wine is consumed. Most consumers find crown caps to look cheap in appearance and a bottle opener is necessary. Plastic corks can be the most difficult to remove and seem to be losing their appeal in the industry. Regardless of the closure, your local wine merchant can advise you on the content and quality of the wine within the bottle. Kathy


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3R D ANNUAL C OM M ON G ROUND COF F EE FESTI VAL Annual Festival Brings People Together to Support a Local Cause, Celebrates a Unique Blend of Culture & Commerce


he highly anticipated 3rd Annual Common Grounds Coffee Festival is set to take place on Saturday, March 2 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds in Norman. This year’s festival promises an immersive experience with exciting activities, including the chance to win fantastic prizes and support the community. Admission to the festival is $10 per person, granting access to a vibrant atmosphere filled with over 70 vendor booths. Notable participants include Rose Rock Habitat for Humanity, coffee culture vendors, artists, musicians and the Not Your Average Joe’s VW Van Photo Booth. Attendees can also engage in STEAM activities, including a maker-lab presentation by the Pioneer Library System, story times and more. To enhance the family-friendly nature of the event, the festival is introducing family packs, which include tickets for 2 adults and 3 kids (ages 6-17) for $30. Children aged 5 and under can attend for free. Elle Shroyer, vice president of donor and community engagement, expressed her enthusiasm for the upcoming event. “The Common Grounds Coffee Festival brings our community together in a unique and impactful way,” she said. “It’s an opportunity to celebrate our shared commitment to creating positive change and supporting families in need.” This year, attendees will have the opportunity to purchase raffle tickets and try their luck at winning a selection of items from local businesses. Additionally, coffee enthusiasts can enjoy a

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unique coffee pull experience by purchasing a mystery bag of coffee. To add a fun twist, festival goers can earn a free raffle ticket by scouring the event for construction rubber duckies hidden throughout the grounds. Another festival highlight is the chance for attendees to meet Habitat staff, board members, volunteers and homeowners, gaining insights into ongoing projects and the community impact of Rose Rock Habitat for Humanity. In 2023, the festival raised funds that led to significant achievements. “With the funds raised, we were able to complete two home builds, provide essential emergency home repairs, revitalize communities, construct ramps for enhanced accessibility, and offer valuable support and referrals to families,” Shroyer said. Purchase tickets for the Common Ground Coffee Festival at



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ydia Means is recognized as one of the top dispatchers at the Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO), as affirmed by Kurtis Pittman, a deputy in the Community Outreach division.

“He was already in the back of the cop car and said he had epilepsy and wanted someone to turn the emergency lights off on the vehicle,” she said. “We have a couple of regular callers who report ghosts.”

Growing up in Moore, Means has an older sister and brother and a twin. After earning an associate degree from Oklahoma City Community College in Applied Science for Automotive, Means worked as a Honda technician. A friend who previously worked at the Sheriff’s Office informed Means about an opportunity in dispatching, prompting her to make the career transition.

Means emphasized the necessity of patience in her role as dispatcher, stating that even seemingly nonsensical calls must be carefully evaluated as to whether to dispatch a unit in case the caller is legitimately in need. Some calls, she noted, may involve mental health issues.

Having dedicated the last two years to dispatching, Means acknowledged the daily challenges that keep her engaged. Despite the demanding nature of the job, she expressed genuine enjoyment, even when handling peculiar calls. “One call was from a person who saw that our office had just confiscated a bunch of drugs,” Means remembered. “He called to find out if he could buy those drugs.” Another memorable call involved a person reporting that someone took their money in a drug deal without delivering the drugs. She also recounted a call from a man in the process of being arrested.

Means shared that people can in fact text 9-1-1, which can particularly be useful in domestic violence situations. “We’ve had people text if there’s someone in the house with them that they don’t want to hear that conversation,” she explained. “I’d also like for people to know that if they call 9-1-1 on accident, they need to stay on the phone to let us know or we will have to send deputies out to that location.” Outside of work, Means enjoys reading thriller and suspense books and likes exploring coffee shops across Oklahoma. Means lives in Mustang with her twin. “It’s just a 30-minute drive to work and I love it. It’s like therapy as I listen to music or a podcast,” she said. This is a continuation of our series on public servants in Norman.

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