One Oklahoma legacy supporting another

Love's Field: A reminder of humble beginnings, teamwork, work ethic and perseverance.

A replica of the University of Oklahoma Sooners’ 2023 NCAA championship softball trophy sits in Chief Culture Officer Jenny Love Meyer’s office as a reminder of humble beginnings, teamwork, work ethic and perseverance. And now she has an additional point of inspiration to turn to.

In late 2021, Love’s generously provided the lead and naming gift for Oklahoma's new softball stadium. On March 1, 2024, the first pitch will be thrown at Love’s Field, which includes the company’s name proudly displayed at the top of the scoreboard in center field.

“My family and I are so proud to play a part in making Love's Field a reality,” Love Meyer said. But she is quick to point out that while the stadium might have the company name on it, this project took years and a village of dedicated people to complete.

“This 44,000 square-foot complex is a nod to Coach Gasso and all those who have been instrumental to building the Oklahoma softball dynasty and hopefully an inspiration for the female student-athletes who compete in it. They are our leaders of the future,” Love Meyer said. “Love’s is humbled to stand alongside the more than 1,100 donors who graciously supported this project. The $37 million raised is the largest dollar amount privately fundraised for a female-specific facility project in college athletics history.”

A photo of the scoreboard and construction at Love's Field at the University of Oklahoma
Photo courtesy of Morgan Givens/OU Athletics

This year, Love’s is celebrating its 60th anniversary and is the only remaining family-owned and operated travel stop company in the industry. According to Love Meyer, she sees many commonalities from when her parents opened the first store in Watonga, Oklahoma, in 1964, and Oklahoma’s softball Coach Patty Gasso’s journey to building a softball powerhouse in Norman, Oklahoma.

“With little money to invest and a growing family to support, my parents used a $5,000 loan to lease an abandoned service station in Watonga a small community 60 miles west of Oklahoma City. That initial willingness to start and grow a business required confidence, innovating thinking, hard work and perseverance and is why Love’s is where it is today. Similarly, when Coach Gasso arrived in Norman in 1994, she organized practices at a local park and needed to schedule practice in between slow pitch softball leagues. And sometimes had to clean up the dugout from festivities the night before. She never gave up. From former OU Associate Athletic Director Marita Hynes, Coach Gasso, softball alumni, to current players, and the university, they persevered through all the challenges. That championship mindset is how success is built.”

A photo of the grand stands and construction at Love's Field at the University of Oklahoma
Photo courtesy of Morgan Givens/OU Athletics

New stadium, but championship mindset continues

Love's Field aligns state-of-the-art training facilities for OU Softball student-athletes and coaches. The new facility will feature a 10,669 square-foot indoor training facility, which is more than double the size of the previous training space, and several team spaces including a training room, locker room and classroom. It will also have space for a recognition area to showcase national championships, All-Americans and other outstanding accomplishments. The overall square footage of the complex is 44,000 compared to 15,168 at the past Marita Hynes Field facility. It will accommodate 4,200 fans compared to a seating capacity of 1,378 in the other facility.

“I feel this stadium is the final piece in the verification of our program," said Patty Gasso, Head Coach, OU Women's Softball. "It’s been a long time coming, with our fan base growing so rapidly and the emergence of our program over the last decade to reach the forefront of college softball. It’s truly a full-circle moment to see our journey from Reaves Park to Marita Hynes Field and now to Love’s Field. Jenny Love Meyer looking into our program, seeing a need and believing in Sooner Softball means everything to us. Love’s generosity will continue to impact our program for years to come. We are truly honored to represent the Love’s family and the University of Oklahoma every day we practice and play at Love’s Field.”

Impact on Love’s employees

It’s fitting that the first pitch in Love’s Field coincides with the start of Women’s History Month. That makes it even more special for Love’s Director of Retail Technology Casey Bookout. A decorated University of Oklahoma baseball player (1996-1999), Bookout has been with Love’s for 11 years and has a daughter, Maggie, who is a freshman on the Sooners’ Track and Field team as a female discus athlete.

"I am incredibly proud to work for a company that invests in the local community, especially in championing women's sports,” Bookout said. “Love’s Field isn't merely a venue, it's a gathering place, where we unite to honor the achievements of young women. It resonates a powerful message of recognition, value and unwavering support for their dreams. What an exceedingly generous gift by the Love’s family to honor the journey of female athletes!"

Love’s team members across the country often quote one of Tom Love’s infamous sayings – “yesterday’s trophies don’t win tomorrow’s games.” Despite earning seven national championship trophies the Sooners will no doubt take Tom’s advice to the new Love’s Field and continue their championship mindset as they seek national championship trophy number eight.