How a Norman family 'adopted' Wayman Tisdale

COMMENTARY — Charles and Cheryl Hollingsworth forged a lifetime bond with the late OU star. It began over meals at their house, but grew into much more.
by Jenni Carlson Published: March 26, 2013

NORMAN — The framed photo sits alongside those of kids and grandkids at Charles and Cheryl Hollingsworth's house.

On the left is Charles. On the right is Cheryl. Flashing that broad, familiar grin in the middle is Wayman Tisdale.

The Oklahoma legend is family in the Hollingsworth house.

The couple “adopted” Tisdale 30 seasons ago as part of a booster club program. He was a freshman, on the cusp of a rookie season for the ages and a season in which he would lead the Sooners back to the NCAA Tournament, but the relationship that grew out of that arrangement created memories that still make the Hollingsworths smile.

“It was such a special time in our lives,” Charles said. “It was maybe special to Wayman because of the connection (that we had), but it was definitely special to us.”

Cheryl said, “It was just a joy.”

Before he made March Madness an annual staple at OU, set the standard by which all other Sooners are measured and became the name on the national freshman of the year award for the way he played and lived and died, he was simply a teenager coming over for Sunday dinner.

The Hollingsworths' relationship with Wayman started because the cafeteria at the dorm didn't serve dinner on Sunday. Someone with OU's Tip In Club suggested a player adoption program where families would fill the void and provide a home-cooked meal on Sundays. Interested boosters would throw their names in a hat and be randomly assigned a player.

A neighbor who was involved with the Tip In Club asked the Hollingsworths if they were interested. They were longtime season-ticket holders, and with two young sons, they knew it would be fun for their family to adopt any of the players.

They just happened to get Wayman.

“How 'bout that?” Charles said.

He smiled and laughed, still a little giddy after all these years at their luck at drawing Wayman.

Truth is, they got a two-for-one. That's because Wayman's brother William was also a member of the basketball team, and he always tagged along.

Since William also had an adoptive family, Wayman asked if they could alternate weeks when they came to dinner.

“Could we come to your house one Sunday and his the next and yours the next and switch off?” Wayman asked.

“Certainly,” Cheryl said.

Her eyes widened as she recalled the story.

Cheryl: “And after I paid the food bill, I said, ‘Cer-tain-ly.'”

Charles: “Bottomless pit.”

Cheryl: “Their favorite was chicken. I couldn't fry enough.”

Even the Colonel struggled to keep up with the Tisdale brothers. The Hollingsworths would buy three buckets from Kentucky Fried Chicken, and there would be no leftovers.


by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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