South Metro Standard May 2024

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MPS Athletic Trainers On the Sidelines Moore Animal Shelter Vision to Reality Riverwind


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MPS Athletic Trainers On the Sidelines Moore Animal Shelter Vision to Reality Riverwind Beats & Bites STANDARD May 2024 • Issue 5 Volume 1 SOUTH METRO YOUR LOCAL COMMUNITY MAGAZINE SPRING GAME HIGHLIGHTS EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Mark Doescher MANAGING EDITOR Lindsay Cuomo PHOTOGRAPHY Mark Doescher CONTRIBUTORS Roxanne Avery | Lindsay Cuomo Chelsey Koppari | Chris Plank T. J. Turner | Tim Willert ADVERTISING REPRESENTATIVES Trevor Laffoon - Perry Spencer - Tanner Wright - PUBLISHER Casey Vinyard South Metro Standard Magazine 2020 E. Alameda Norman, Oklahoma 73071 Phone: (405) 321-1400 E-mail: Copyright © 19th Street Magazine Any articles, artwork or graphics created by 19th Street Magazine or its contributors are sole property of 19th Street Magazine and cannot be reproduced for any reason without permission. Any opinions expressed in 19th Street are not necessarily that of 19th Street management. MAY CONTENTS ISSUE 5– VOLUME 1 2024 what’s inside on the cover 26 Cleveland County’s Economic Renaissance Public-private partnerships unveils the Startup 405 Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence 30 From Vision to Reality Moore’s state-of-the-art animal shelter opens 10 SOUTH METRO STANDARD On the Sidelines An inside look at the MPS athletic trainer assistant program 32 Spring Game Highlights Images from the Sooner’s 2024 Red White scrimmage 24 Rose Rock Habitat for Humanity Nonprofit kicks off capital campaign to build its new home 14 International Honors Le Monde International School earns prestigious accreditation 18 A Little More Country Riverwind’s Beats & Bites Festival returns for 8th season 22 NIL X The REF KREF’s collaboration with the Crimson and Cream Collective 26 Big XII Champs Sooner women’s gymnastics brings home the Big XII trophy 36 Advancing Obesity Treatment Empowering patients through comprehensive weight management 40 From Kickoff to Comeback The REF High School Streaming scores big with OAB honors 42 Cover photo by: Mark Doescher
10 | May 2024 COMMUNITY
Moore’s State-of-the-Art Animal Shelter Opens

Thanks to area voters, the City of Moore recently celebrated the grand opening of the Moore Animal Welfare and Adoption Center. The brand-new shelter features just over 15,000 square feet, with the ability to house 66 dogs and 28 cats in the adoption center, plus 48 dogs and 30 cats in the animal hold area.

The city’s previous shelter had about 3,500 square feet with space for 29 dogs and nine cats. The new center has a spacious adoption lobby, a multipurpose staff training room, multiple kennel rooms with indoor and outdoor access, a medical suite, laundry room, quarantine rooms and indoor and outdoor meet-and-greet spaces for animal adoptions. There is also a barn to temporarily house larger animals.

“We had a semi overturn with horses inside and we didn’t have any place to put them,” shared John Fryrear, animal welfare supervisor. “We have a place now to keep livestock until their owners can get them and we can also use the stables if we have a weather emergency that causes animals to be displaced.”

Perhaps Fryrear’s favorite feature is the location - the new shelter is located right off I-35 near the 34th St. Bridge, which keeps the center top of mind for families interested in adopting.

Moore Pawsabilities is a non-profit organization providing volunteer support for the shelter as well as financial resources for families wanting to adopt. Learn more about volunteering and supporting their mission at

“This facility is for the citizens,” Fryrear explained. “We want them to come in and be able to be active with us and help us serve the community they live in.”

Fryrear hopes to eventually have a veterinarian on staff, which is second on his list of long-term goals, the first being the new facility. Currently, the center has a partnership with Silver Leaf Animal Hospital to provide for the medical needs of the animals in the shelter.

The center was constructed by Crossland Construction.

“This achievement is a testament to the commitment of the citizens of Moore,” said Mayor Mark Hamm. “We want to say thank you to the men and women who voted and approved the funding for this amazing facility. We now have an amazing place to care for animals.”– SMS

14 | May 2024 COMMUNITY
“Getting our clients into the home is only one stage,” Gardner explained. “Keeping them at home is part two, and part three is allowing them to maintain that home.” - President and CEO Randy Gardner

AAfter almost 10 years, Rose Rock Habitat for Humanity and their ReStore will soon move to a different location, and the nonprofit is kicking off a capital campaign to raise funds to build its new home.

With the lease running out on the current Main Street location and the organization having outgrown the space, President and CEO Randy Gardner said it was the perfect opportunity to consider options for the future. Next year, the ReStore will relocate to 901 Sonoma Park Dr in Norman.

The ReStore supports Rose Rock’s mission of building homes, community and hope by selling new and used items including building materials, appliances, furniture and other household items, by putting the money generated from sales back into the organization’s programs. In addition to accepting donations from the community, Rose Rock also partners with companies like Lowe’s, Ashley and other local businesses, who provide overstock items or ones with dents or dings for the ReStore.

“The new ReStore is going to certainly enhance the shopping experience for our customers because we’ll have a much better facility suited to our customers’ needs,” Gardner said.

Along with the ReStore, the facility will host a Client Solution Center. This center will focus on meeting the needs of Rose Rock’s clients by serving as a space to talk to potential homebuyers and people who need repairs to their homes, providing financial literacy counseling, and hosting homeownership classes.

“Getting our clients into the home is only one stage,” Gardner explained. “Keeping them at home is part two, and part three is allowing them to maintain that home. We’ll teach them how to do basic maintenance and take care of routine stuff that allows them to do it more economically.”

More information about the capital campaign can be found at or by emailing questions to The website includes links where people can donate, let

Rose Rock know if they would like to be an ambassador for the project, and sign up for updates.

“We’ve already purchased the land for the new building, and we also have to apply for grants,” shared Elle Shroyer, vice president of donor and community engagement. “For the larger grants we’ve looked at, we have to have a certain amount raised before we can apply, so we’re looking for those people who can help at the ground level.

“That can be as small as funding a square foot of the ReStore, which is $200, to funding a larger area for naming rights of different parts of the ReStore and the Client Solution Center.”

In addition to monetary donations, people can support the mission of Rose Rock Habitat for Humanity in a variety of ways, including volunteering at the ReStore, at events or with the construction team, helping to plan fundraisers, or by making material donations to the ReStore.

Rose Rock Habitat for Humanity, previously named Cleveland County Habitat for Humanity, serves all of Cleveland and Pottawatomie Counties. The move to Pottawattamie County was recent, with the opening of a ReStore in Shawnee in February.

According to Shroyer, a common misconception about Rose Rock is that by being part of Habitat for Humanity International, the local nonprofit receives funding from them. However, that is not the case as the international organization is there to provide resources to find grants and connect them with companies, not provide funding.

“All of our funding is local,” Shroyer explained. “We have grants, and we partner with local and national businesses. We are the local Habitat for our community, so it’s really important we have local support.”– BSM



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Le Monde International School Earns Prestigious Accreditation

18 | May 2024 COMMUNITY

Le Monde International School recently welcomed dignitaries of the French Consulate to formally celebrate the achievement of the LabelFrancÉducation accreditation. This distinguished recognition positions Le Monde among an exclusive cohort of educational institutions – one of 66 schools nationwide and the only school in Oklahoma to receive the certification for outstanding bilingual education in French.

“We have had a relationship with the French Consulate since we opened the school in 2018. They recommended we apply,” said Lance Seeright, the school’s executive director. “This award validates all of the hard work of our students and teachers.”

Marcus Madlock, Le Monde board of education vice president, said the accreditation places the school in “an elite group of institutions” not only in the country but worldwide.

“There are only 587 schools worldwide with this distinction,” Madlock said. “Beyond language acquisition, our curriculum emphasizes an immersive approach, ensuring students engage with French and Francophone literature, history and arts.”

Le Monde is a French and Spanish immersion public charter school that opened following the

closure of a French Immersion program at Reagan Elementary. Currently, Le Monde is open to students in Pre-K through 8th grade.

Stephanie Caimbella, PTA president at Le Monde, said the accreditation is a transformative milestone that “will have a lifelong impact on our students and our community.”

“Being a bilingual school is all about connections and this award highlights our global connection,” she said. “As our students grow and are out seeking jobs, they now have a concrete international connection.”

Le Monde is currently housed in a shared space in Downtown Norman. Seeright said efforts are underway to find a location for a permanent facility, adding that they hope to soon expand their program to include all grades up to 12th.

“Our enrollment has increased every year since we opened and we are approaching the 500-student mark,” Seeright explained. “We have added more opportunities for fine arts, athletics and other extracurricular activities.”

To learn more about Le Monde International School or the LabelFrancÉducation accreditation, visit – BSM


Oklahoma City Community College’s concurrent enrollment program allows high school juniors and seniors to earn college and high school credits at the same time. Visit or call 405-682-7543 for more information.


Valliance Bank isn’t just another bank in Norman. We’re deeply rooted in this community and in creating meaningful relationships with our neighbors. Our commitment extends beyond banking – it’s about fostering genuine connections that make you stronger and help you grow. When you bank with us, you’re not banking with a bank in Norman. You’re banking with a Norman bank. Scan the code below; let us show you what Relationship Banking is all about.

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Riverwind’s Beats & Bites Festival Returns for 8th Season

22 | May 2024 COMMUNITY

Norman area residents looking for entertainment on a budget need to look no further than Riverwind Casino’s 2024 Beats & Bites presented by Michelob Ultra. The festivities include four concerts throughout the summer with a selection of local food trucks and retail vendors, inflatables and face painting for kids, all kicking off May 25.

In the festival’s eighth year, organizers are making some exciting changes. Instead of having an opener and a headliner, they will have two headliners for each festival performance. Musicians include Chris Janson, Easton Corbin and more.

“It’s something different. I don’t think anyone is doing anything quite like this,”, Heather Rudd said, the casino’s project manager. “It’s fun for the entire family - getting to support local businesses and see artists that you may never get the opportunity to see otherwise.”

Every year in February and March, local vendors apply to be a part of the Beats & Bites vendor lineup, and about 25 vendors are selected to participate in each festival performance.

“We have quite a few vendors who we call our OGs because they have been with us from the beginning,” Rudd said. “They get to grow their business as well as see the crowd and enjoy the show.”

Rudd says a lot goes into planning and setting up for each event, including about two weeks of preparations for each vendor, but the hard work also brings with it unique experiences, like riding electric scooters around the casino campus with the 90s American rock band Everclear.

“It’s been a lot of fun to get to know these artists on that level and see that they are enjoying the event too,” Rudd said.

The most popular event in the festival’s 8-year history has been Scotty McCreery, selling over 10,000 tickets. The next most popular was Gary Allan with close to 9,000 tickets sold.

The festival is not just for adults, each event includes inflatables and face painting for kids, as well as snow cones, Dippin’ Dots and appearances from the OKC Thunder Girls and Rumble.

Tickets are available for pre-purchase on the Riverwind Casino website for $10 per person. Children 12 years and under are free. Visit for more information.– BSM


• Pre-purchase your tickets.

• Bring your own chairs, seating is limited.

• Any items brought in are subject to bag check. New this year, a nobag line is available to streamline entry.

• Sealed water bottles and baby bottles are the only food and beverage items allowed.

• Photo and video is allowed.

24 | May 2024
Spring Game - SEC Style
Photos by: Mark Doescher


It doesn’t seem that you can talk about college sports without talking about Name, Image, Likeness (NIL) and collectives. It is a different world than we ever could have imagined, but one thing is clear - NIL is not going anywhere.

If you want your program to compete at the highest level, you need to have a strong NIL foundation.

As the home of Sooner fans, KREF has partnered with the Crimson and Cream Collective to help strengthen the NIL foundation for the present and the future of Oklahoma Sooner athletics. Throughout this process, fans have had an opportunity to get to know student athletes on a level almost unheard of in the past.

To understand where we are today with Name, Image, Likeness, it is best to probably look back.


The start of NIL traces back to the late 2000s when former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon and 19 others sued the NCAA, arguing they violated the United States antitrust laws by not allowing athletes

to earn a share of the revenues generated from the use of their likeness in broadcasts and video games.

The NCAA lost in court and was ordered to pay $44.4 million.

The O’Bannon ruling opened a flood gate of opposition to the NCAA’s rules about student-athlete compensation. The state of California pushed the NCAA to make a move in 2019 when state legislators enacted the Fair Pay to Play Act. Copycat legislation started to pop up in other states across the nation.

In the final blow to the NCAA, the Supreme Court unanimously upheld a district court rule on the NCAA v. Alston, essentially ending amateurism. The ruling stated the NCAA was violating antitrust law by placing limits on the educated-related benefits a school can provide to athletes.

Perhaps the harshest criticism came from Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh who called the ruling “an important and overdue course correct” before stating that the NCAA is not above the law.

26 | May 2024 OU SPORTS

In the summer of 2021, the NCAA’s Board of Directors adopted an interim rule opening the opportunity for NIL activity with little to no directives or guidelines. Once NIL became official, the creation of collectives helped to better organize the process. Collectives, which are independent of the university, pool funds from boosters and business to help facilitate NIL deals for the student athlete.

The Crimson and Cream Collective is the official collective of Oklahoma Sooner athletics. In its mission statement, the organization “seeks to help student-athletes maximize their NIL opportunities, without compromising the values of the university and the legacy of all those who have donned the Crimson and Cream in the past.”

The collective hired Sooner legend Lauren Chamberlain Gipson to serve as general manager and face of the Sooners NIL movement.

“People aren’t accustomed to embracing NIL,” Gipson said. “As someone who fans know and trust and has been a part of their experiences as a Sooner fan before, it’s been a good transition so far.”


With a legend leading the charge, KREF and the collective are working together to find ways to take the mystery out of the collective’s role, pushing for a better understanding of how powerful NIL dollars have become to the success of college athletics.

“When Crimson and Cream was initially announced, I had a few discussions with Jason Belzer regarding how KREF and our KREF Army could be a vehicle to increase the awareness of the collective with athlete exposure via interviews on our station,” KREF Station owner and General Manager Bryan Vinyard said. “Fast-forward nine months or so, when I was invited to attend a lunch meeting with Noah Allen and Bart Shelley, Bart had been in contact with Jason Belzer regarding our station and how they might access our listener base to increase the number of Crimson and Cream members.

“After the lunch and a few subsequent discussions, we worked with the Crimson and Cream team to create the current partnership. Beyond the on-air interviews of athletes, KREF regularly posts assets on our social media account to assist in the growth.”

The partnership grew from there with a shared desire to make Oklahoma the best it can be for years to come.

“First of all, love KREF, I’ve been a fan since my playing days,” Gipson said. “This partnership is important because KREF is the voice of Sooner fans. You are in the community; your fans are loyal and true. When you get an opportunity to bring on our student-ath-

letes to talk about their sports, their interest in life, what their stories are and how NIL has positively impacted their life, it’s important.

“Also the KREF Army can get involved with our membership model where the average fan can commit X amount of money, it can be as much as your Apple music or your Netflix membership per month and really play a part in keeping OU athletics successful, especially as we head into SEC territory.”

Part of the partnership has included regular on-air interviews with current Sooners in just about every sport. Having these regular interviews with Sooner athletes has allowed fans to get to know these men and women and has helped to magnify the good in NIL.

“To me, it’s almost like an insurance policy for your fandom. You’re ensuring that we stay on track to win championships,” Gipson added. “More than that, you are helping positively impact a student-athlete’s life while they are in college.”

“While I’m not a fan of the current combination of limitless transfers without penalty and NIL, I do think NIL is here to stay,” Vinyard added. “NIL resources will be critically important for OU to continue to attract and retain top-tier athletes in all sports.

“Given the present landscape, I just don’t see how any Power 5 school can win at the highest level without NIL funding to keep the school competitive with their peer schools.”


Being a part of the Crimson and Cream Collective helps fans have a direct connection to Oklahoma Sooner athletics through its NIL program. While the impact goes beyond the field, it is also impactful to keeping a team together.

“Think about guys like Billy Bowman and Danny Stutsman who were thinking about going to the NFL and instead decided to come back, taking another year to get better,” said Sooner defensive lineman and captain Ethan Downs. “To have some financial comfort coming back is invaluable, to have another year of growth in the system to prepare us outside of football, but also have a little money in our pocket to live comfortably now… it’s also been a great advantage for non-scholarship athletes.”

“It’s been exciting, but it’s also torn a lot of locker rooms apart,” he added. “OU has done a great job to keep order behind it all and not make it about money or comparing dollar figures. We are very focused on the season and what’s coming up with the SEC. Coach V has done a fabulous job in laying out that this isn’t about money but the love of the game. The more we can bond the team, the further we can go in the season.”


When Bowman talked about why he decided to return to the Sooners for another season, NIL did play a role, not the most important role, but a very impactful one.

“It didn’t play too much of a factor, but it was definitely a factor,” Bowman said “NIL helped me come back in a way where I didn’t have to chase the money. I can get it all here while still finishing my schooling and enjoying my full college experience.”

While the focus shines brightest on football, perhaps NIL dollars make the biggest difference in sports like softball. Without a professional league promising millions to its best prospects, the commitment to NIL for diamond sports can help build a foundation for the future and beyond for players like Kelly Maxwell.

“It’s helping tremendously,” Maxwell said. “With NIL, I have been able to set up for my future. I have aspirations to be a veterinarian. To have that money to help pay my way through school and have those foundations so I am able to be successful after softball.”


NIL is not going anywhere. The rules may adjust, and certain restrictions or allowances could be added, but the ability for student-athletes to earn money from their Name, Image and Likeness is here to stay.

While the relationship between Crimson and Cream and KREF is in place to help strengthen the Sooners NIL

program and build a solid foundation for years to come, it has also provided some incredible content and stories that have been shared on the air. We learned why Maxwell chose 28 as her number and it shines a spotlight on a deep-rooted love for the Sooners.

“When I was younger, I was always 27, I don’t really know why. I just picked it. I went to a travel ball team and 27 was taken,” Maxwell said.

“From a young age, I was always an OU fan. My dad’s family all came to school here and this was my dream school. I had always admired watching Sooner football and Adrian Peterson. When 27 was taken, my coach at the time, who was an OU fan, said ‘Why not 28, it’s AD’s number.’ It just stuck and I’ve been 28 ever since.”

We were able to learn about Downs’ wife, her athletic endeavors and why he got in trouble for cheering at her first-ever rowing event.

“There was a walk-on tryout for rowing, and she lit up with the idea. When she moved up here after we got married, she gave up track and I encouraged her to give it a shot,” Downs said. “Now she’s on the team and is making phenomenal times for a beginner.

“At her first regatta, I’m used to sporting events being loud, so I bring some blow horns and sit in a lawn chair next to the river. As they’re flying by, I fire off the horn. They went by a few times and the coach was looking at me, telling me to cut it out. I later found out it’s illegal to have horns because they’re the same horns as they have in the race. It’s like bringing a whistle to a football game.”

We also learned about the grand plans that Trace Ford has once he finishes his football career.

“My dream is to own a baseball park,” Ford said. “I would love to run baseball tournaments in Edmond and own something like Hafer Park. It is my dream to own something where I can host tournaments and leagues for little league baseball.”

The stories are plentiful, and the impact is undeniable. You can make a difference, helping Sooner athletics and student-athletes prepare for the future. Join today at and be a part of sustaining and growing the future of Oklahoma Sooner athletics.– BSM

28 | May 2024

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Public-Private Partnerships Unveils the Startup 405 Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence

In a collaborative effort aimed at fostering sustainable economic growth, business leaders and public officials, including Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt, unveiled a series of innovative economic development initiatives for Cleveland County.

These initiatives are the culmination of a new strategic alliance between the Norman Economic Development Coalition (NEDC) and Boyd Street Ventures (BSV), facilitated by investments from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) provided by the Cleveland County Commissioners and the Norman City Council, alongside contributions from private-sector entities such as the Sooner Centurions Economic Development Council.

A pivotal component of these initiatives involves the acquisition of a new incubator facility. Cleveland County and Norman officials unanimously approved $1 million each in 2023 ARPA dollars to purchase an 18,000-square-foot space, locat-

ed at 425 West Main St. The location previously served as the Copelin’s Office Center building for more than 40 years. Sooner Centurions are currently in a capital campaign to raise nearly $5 million for renovations.

“The partnership between the Norman Economic Development Coalition and Boyd Street Ventures will uplift business in Cleveland County,” Stitt said. “Everybody knows Cleveland County is on the rise, and I’m excited to see how Oklahomans will benefit from this bold new approach.”

Coalition President and CEO Lawrence McKinney outlined the multifaceted functionality of the new space, which will accommodate the county’s sole state-certified incubator and feature the Boyd Street Ventures Studio, multiple conference rooms, offices, a community room and an open co-working space.

30 | May 2024

“No other community in Oklahoma has attempted, much less succeeded, in what we’ve announced today - a one-stop shop where emerging businesses can receive typical services, plus potential seed funding, intensive and personalized support, and venture capital funding too,” McKinney said. “Our goal for this county-wide incubator over the next twenty years is to double the jobs and increase the average salary.”

The transformation of Startup 405 from a business incubator to a comprehensive resource center signifies a paradigm shift that is designed to empower entrepreneurs with a spectrum of business expertise encompassing accounting, legal counsel, sales, marketing, branding, human resources and more.

“The biggest impediments to job growth are access to capital and talent attraction and we have solutions for both,” McKinney said. “Although NEDC continues to court new companies, the reality is we have very limited industrial property so the likelihood of recruiting another Hitachi or Johnson Controls is quite small.

“Where we can do well is by helping local businesses to expand… helping to grow our own startup companies.”

Startup 405 programming will be provided by the Startup 405 Advisory Board, Boyd Street Ventures, the Tom Love Innovation Hub at OU, SCORE (Society of Retired Executives), SBDC and others.

“Startup 405 will assist companies with the basics of accounting, business plans, product design, human resources, sales, marketing and so on, while also running workshops and seminars and providing mentorships,” said James Spann, Boyd Street Ventures founder and general partner. “The BSV Venture Studio will provide additional guidance as needed with founder advisory, team assessment and expansion, goto-market strategy, branding, industry connections and additional fundraising.”

“It’s exciting for us not only to help these entrepreneurs achieve their dreams, but to help create jobs and economic growth for Norman, Cleveland County and the state of Oklahoma,” he added. “We’re committed to Norman, to Cleveland County, to OU and to Oklahoma. We want to bring Oklahoma innovation to the world.” – BSM

James Spann of Boyd Street Ventures presented Gov. Stitt with a favorite childhood treat. Stitt grew up in Norman.

On the Sidelines

An Inside Look at the MPS Athletic Trainer Assistant Program

Athletic trainers are often an overlooked part of the sports’ world, but Moore Public Schools understands the vital role in which they play. If you check the sidelines at any game of any sport, there is a group of professionals waiting to respond.

This can be quite the challenge at the highschool level, but Westmoore head athletic trainer

Phillip Tucker acknowledges that Moore Public Schools is doing everything they can to provide quality care.

“When I was growing up, my high school didn’t have an athletic trainer,” said Tucker. “I’m really proud to be a part of something where parents can know their kids are in good hands from middle school and up.”

Being an athletic trainer is a year-round gig with no offseason and many of their responsibilities go unnoticed. Providing water, wrapping ankles and taping athletes up before and during a game are well known, but Southmoore head athletic trainer Adam Burns says there is far more being done behind the scenes.

“Injury prevention, diagnosis, rehabilitation and helping out with hydration are responsibilities

everyone thinks of first,” said Burns. “Concussions are a big part of what we do. We partnered with an app called Sway, and it is essentially a baseline concussion test.

“At the beginning of the school year, the athletes take a test that will rate their symptoms, balance and reaction times. If a concussion takes place during the year, we run the same test and compare the numbers.”

The athletic trainers also provide another pivotal role for the youth in the Moore community. Each high school gives students an opportunity to learn from athletic trainers and to become an assistant. The process of becoming an athletic training assistant is quite rigorous.

“They have to go through an application and interview process to make sure they meet the criteria,” said Burns. “They have to have the right behavior, attendance and grades just so we know that we’re going to be able to rely on them.”

Student athletic trainers are taught how to properly rehab ankle sprains and to tape ankles, wrists and hands, along with a plethora of other responsibilities.

32 | May 2024

“If we’re being completely honest, we can’t do what we do without our athletic training student aids,” said Moore head athletic trainer Taylor Bracci. “What people don’t realize is that they’re there 30 minutes before practices start to help set up our hydration and help us preventively tape our athletes.”

Bracci credits her athletic training students for sacrificing their own time to put others first.

“I try my hardest to make sure that they’re happy and still enjoying their high school career,” said Bracci. “It’s my maternal instinct to take each one in and see what they want to do after high school. Some of my kids want to go into sonography, physician assistants and some even wanted to become athletic trainers.

“Whatever it is that they want to do, we back them up 100 percent. During their time with us, we feel like we set them up for success by making sure they have a strong work ethic and that’s not always teachable. We’ve been extremely blessed to have such hard-working students for the last four years.”

Some students become athletic training assistants because they can gain experience in the field they want to pursue after high school, but

that was not the case for one Southmoore senior.

“My freshman year, I played volleyball until I got injured,” said Ryan Gipson. “I was always in and out of the training room doing treatment trying to get better and honestly fell in love with how things worked and made the decision to join.”

For Southmoore senior Logann Johnson, it was about about staying close to sports while gaining valuable knowledge.

“I grew up playing sports at Westmoore before transferring and didn’t want to start over. I had a friend who was an athletic trainer,” said Johnson. “I wanted to stay close to sports and I want to go into the medical field, so it seemed like a great fit.”

While Gipson enjoyed playing volleyball, she found out something about herself when she joined the athletic training staff.

“Last year, I juggled both sports and athletic training,” Gipson said. “I found out that I loved athletic training more than playing sports. I like helping other people and finding ways to make myself healthier.”

Gipson and Johnson acknowledge the responsibility of putting others first can be exhausting, but they are extremely grateful for the opportunity to give back to the Moore community. – SMS


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Playing Hurt? Don't!

The 2024 season has been another record-shattering season for K.J . Kindler and the University of Oklahoma Women’s Gymnastics team. Backed by a solid group of returning stars and future headliners, the Sooners once again set the standard for greatness.

OU advanced to a 20th-straight NCAA Championship with its 14th-straight regional title. In advancing to compete for the ultimate prize, the Sooner made their 23rd overall NCAA Championship appearance and 17th under head coach K.J. Kindler. Despite a disappointing finish in the National semi-finals, the Sooners elevated the bar in 2024, rewriting the record books in a way that will be challenging to match for years to come.

“The consistency has been beyond what I ever expected, for us, that’s a pillar of our program,” said Kindler, head coach of OU’s Women’s Gymnastics team. “As the season progressed, we stayed healthy. With seven seniors, there was a lot of collaboration and unique leadership styles that had to learn how to coexist and work together. It’s been interesting to watch that evolve over the year.”

As the Sooners marched through the regular season undefeated with a series of dominating performances, not many were as impressive as their record-setting night in the Big 12 tournament held inside the Lloyd Noble Center, which was the final Big 12 event inside the LNC before the Sooners leave for the SEC.

Oklahoma set the record for the highest team score in NCAA history, breaking a 20-year-old record of 198.875 set by Stanford and UCLA in 2004. Oklahoma is the only team with multiple scores higher than 198.600, all coming this season. Jordan Bowers tied the OU record in the all-around, earning three 10s and a 9.925 on beam to become only the second gymnast in OU history to reach an all-around score of 39.900-plus.

Amid the record-shattering performances, the Sooners combined for five perfect 10s, earning a team “Gym Slam” with a perfect score on every event. Bowers earned a perfect score on vault, bars and floor, Ragan Smith earned a perfect 10 on beam, and Faith Torrez earned her first perfect score on floor.

“I’ve been doing this a long time and I’ve never seen that. I got a little emotional because those moments aren’t every day, to see something happen like that in that kind of a moment is really special,” Kindler said. “Those people who were there to see it have no idea that some of us have been waiting a lifetime to see it. That’s special… especially in our final Big 12 Championships on podium in our own arena.”

Five members of the team combined to capture a conference-leading 10 All-Big 12 accolades, marking the 15th straight year the Sooners have led the league in All-Big 12 selections and the 15th consecutive season the Sooners have earned at least eight spots on the All-Big 12 team.

After their domination in the Big 12, the Sooners had to battle to attain the level that has become the expectation during the NCAA Regionals. Despite advancing to the Regional Finals, the Sooner were not very “Sooner” like on day one of the Ann Arbor Regional.

“We have a high standard of where we want to be,” Kindler said. “We reconvened the day in between. Championships are won from the neck up… I totally believe that.

“Physically, you are where you’re going to be. It’s hard to make big adjustments in 10 days. Championships are won in your mind. We had to do a

36 | May 2024 OU SPORTS
Sooner Women’s Gymnastics
Photos by: Mark Doescher BIG XII Champs

little mental exercise to get ourselves back on track which we did.”

The Sooners dominated the second day and in doing so won their 14th-straight NCAA Regional title to advance.

“We set an NCAA record for the postseason with the highest beam score in history and we had to start on beam,” Kindler added. “We prepared for it, but they seriously lit it up.”

As the Sooners continued to break records and set new levels of greatness, the seven seniors helped lead the way for the historic run in 2024. Among them, Regan Smith became the only Sooner to reach double-digit perfect scores on a single event with her 10th career on balance beam.

The Lewisville, Texas product wrapped up her career as a five-time WCGA All-American.

“Regan unexpectedly came to us early because we were expecting her to vie for the Olympics in 2020, injury prevented that from happening,” Kindler said of Smith. “Leadership is the number one space where she has grown. You come in as an elite athlete, you’re very individualized and you’ve been doing things for yourself for 18 years and now you have to meld into a team.

“You can see her passion. Sometimes the match doesn’t stay lit for all four years in college athletics, but for Reagan to stay lit for five years with the same

passion she walked in with, maybe even more… she’s grown so much.”

Audrey Davis has been a picture of consistency and perfection. According to, Davis has hit 194 routines in a row, dating back to Feb. 7, 2021. The senior holds a hit percentage of .995, hitting 205 of 206 career routines. She has been 100% in each of the last three seasons and has a perfect hit rate on vault, bars and floor in her career.

“She is an incredibly grateful person, a truly kind person, the best team player,” Kindler said of Davis. “She wants the best for the team all the time, and she is always pumping people up.

“She’s very emotional, she lets it out and I think that’s incredibly good for her. It gets rid of all that pent-up anguish or emotion if she’s not having a good day. I also think it’s a good leadership trait when you can show your vulnerability. She’s been an incredible leader for us.”

With the commitment and consistency of Katherine “Kat” LaVasseur, the Sooners had a consummate pro who was always dedicated to the craft. LaVasseur committed to the Sooners as a 14-year-old and has lived out her dream of continuing the Championship tradition for the Sooners.

“As an athlete, she executes gymnastics better than anyone on our team. No form deductions. Her toes are always pointed, her legs are glued together,” Kindler said of LaVasseur. “When she does gymnastics, it’s smooth and beautiful.

“She’s just glowing this year. She’s embracing the expectations. Her belief in herself and her confidence is in a place it’s never been. I love watching her go out this way, I think she will have zero regrets. That’s your hope as a coach, that they walk away saying I did it all, I did everything I could and I’m happy.”

With an elite legacy in place, the Sooners will now start the process of transitioning to the SEC - a conference where the sport holds a much more high-profile spot in the conference’s portfolio than it ever did in the Big 12.

As their seven leaders move on, the Sooners are still loaded with talent ready to tackle the next challenge. The sting from coming up short for a third-straight National Championship will also serve as a motivator for those who will help lead the charge into the SEC. The future of the Sooner’s roster means the Oklahoma Women’s Gymnastics will likely find themselves in the same spot near the end of next season - competing for a National Championship, which at the University of Oklahoma has become the standard set by its legendary coach. – BSM

38 | May 2024


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Empowering Patients Through Comprehensive Weight Management

There has been a surge in attention in recent months towards medically assisted weight loss, particularly with the FDA approval of new medications such as Wegovy and Zepbound. Dr. Lana Nelson, a bariatric surgeon at Norman Regional’s Journey Clinic, confirmed that bariatrics is “an ever-evolving field,” pointing to “significant advances in recent years.”

“We now have more effective treatment options to treat obesity and metabolic conditions,” Nelson confirmed.

Nelson has been a bariatric surgeon for more than 20 years and says that she finds building long-term relationships with her patients her motivation. Treating a complex and often misunderstood disease such as obesity allows her to provide “life-changing results” for her patients.

“It is important to recognize that obesity is a disease process,” she said. “Providers are changing the way we see obesity treatment.”

Acknowledging obesity as a multifaceted disease process influenced by genetics, hormones, environment, stress, age and other factors, Nelson advocates for a holistic approach in treatment, veering away from blame and embracing a broader perspective.

“We wouldn’t only treat heart disease with lifestyle changes,” she explained. “If you feel like you are fighting a losing battle, it is important to know there is help out there. If you start to see health problems associated with your weight like prediabetics or high blood pressure, we have several tools available.”

40 | May 2024 HEALTH
Dr. Lana Nelson, bariatric surgeon at Norman Regional’s Journey Clinic

Nelson said that Journey Clinic employs a “layering approach,” integrating various modalities including nutrition counseling, medications, meal plans, alongside laparoscopic and endoscopic surgical interventions.

Nelson said advances in endoscopic procedures offer patients less invasive options compared to tradition or laparoscopic surgery.

“Endoscopic procedures are out-patient. We go through the mouth and the work is done inside,” Nelson said. “Patients are able to come in and then go home the same day. There is shorter recovery time, and the modifications are adjustable and reversible.”

Journey Clinic offers two endo-bariatric procedures – endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty and an intragastric balloon. Both procedures reshape the stomach to help patients feel full with smaller portions of food. Patients also work with a dietitian to make long-term lifestyle changes.

“It is important to understand that patients need to be willing to make changes to get the best results,” Nel-

son said. “If you are expecting surgery to force those changes, then you won’t have as good of results.”

Patients with a BMI of 30 or higher can be a candidate for an endoscopic bariatric procedure, additionally patients with a BMI of 27 or higher with a metabolic condition can also be eligible.

If you are considering seeking medical treatment for weight loss, Nelson recommends talking with your primary care physician, visiting the Journey Clinic website, or making an appointment to discuss treatment options.

“We have a lot of great information on our website for patients thinking of coming to see us,” Nelson said. “It can be scary making an appointment with a surgeon, but we can have a conversation to see what fits best, whether that be surgery or not.”

To learn more about the medical and surgical treatment options available at Journey Clinic, visit– SMS

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The Ref High School Streaming Scores Big with OAB Honors

The Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters recently honored The Ref High School Streaming during their annual Outstanding Achievement Awards Banquet. The Ref earned top accolades for Outstanding Play-by-Play and Outstanding Video Streaming Sports in the radio division.

“This recognition is a testament to the dedication and talent of our team at The Ref,” said Casey Vinyard, owner of The REF Sports Radio Network. “We are so proud to partner with Oklahoma school districts to provide live streaming services for their athletic events.”

The award-winning play-by-play segment narrated Norman High’s electrifying opening kick return for a touchdown during the playoffs, while the video streaming portion captured a thrilling comeback game by the Moore Lions football team against the Norman Tigers.

KREF was also recognized with a Community Service award honoring their outstanding commitment to their audience through their community service campaigns.

KREF Radio began streaming high school sports in 2009 for Norman High and Norman North. Since, The Ref has added 11 schools across five districts, streaming over 1,300 events in 2023.

Over 800,000 viewers have tuned in during the 2023-2024 school year.

Coverage extends to a myriad of sports, including volleyball, fast-pitch softball, football, wrestling, basketball, slow-pitch softball, soccer and baseball. Additionally, a weekly Coaches Show, held at a local Buffalo Wild Wings, showcases student-athletes and coaches from the various sports as well as highlights participants in band, esports, cheer and pom. Perry Spencer, director of high school streaming, said the program is designed to shine a spotlight on the achievements unfolding in local schools.

“We want to give schools every opportunity to promote their programs and their student-athletes,” Spencer said. “The best part is that we are able to do this for no or a very low cost to the schools.”

Viewers can access live streams free of charge, enabling friends, parents, grandparents and out-of-town fans to immerse themselves in the community and cheer on their favorite school’s student-athletes as they compete.

To catch the Lions, Jaguars and Sabercats, visit If you are interested in supporting local schools by advertising your organization, please email – BSM

42 | May 2024

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