The story behind Oklahoma Wesleyan Keep Your Fork team motto

fork better.jpg

Tonight is the title game of the Avista NAIA World Series and nine teams were eliminated throughout the week-long tournament. The first of those, Oklahoma Wesleyan. But even in defeat, this team has one thing keeping them working hard…. a fork.

KLEW News Reporter Shannon Moudy has the story of how a utensil can inspire a team, and how a coach gave them a lesson for life.

Matt Parker is used to a full email inbox. He gets around 50 a day...

Coach Parker said, "It was an email I got from my dad..."

Just from his father. He admits he doesn’t always open them, they’re usually a dreaded chain letter. But one his dad sent a few years ago...

Coach Parker said, "She asked the pastor, 'Can I be buried with this fork in my hand?' "

Sparked his interest.

"Seems like such a strange story to begin with,” said Parker.

Coach Matt Parker shared the story, about an elderly woman planning her final days, with his Oklahoma Wesleyan baseball team back in 2014.

Coach Parker said, "Anytime they took a plate away somebody would say, 'Hey keep your fork.' That meant another plate was coming and eventually we'd get to dessert."

He made it into a baseball metaphor, and that’s how the story about a little old lady and a fork turned into a team motto.

Coach Parker said, "We'd say 'keep your fork, keep your fork.' "

That same year, Oklahoma Wesleyan made it to their first World Series placing third.

Back home in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, they give out a fork award to the player who works the hardest, and even a picture of a fork on their practice jerseys as an everyday reminder.

"Fall practice is necessary, conditioning and weight-lifting, the off-season and February and all the things you have to go through,” said Coach Parker. “You do have to go through all of that to get to dessert. Lewiston, Idaho and hopefully someday a World Series championship is the dessert."

This year they had their second shot at the title. Sadly, they were the first team knocked out of the series. Parker knew this was an opportunity to take their motto, and make it a lasting lesson.

"The best is still yet to come,” said Coach Parker. “We don't think that this was the end. If we'd won the World Series here, that wouldn't be the highlight of our life."

And as they go into their off-season, they’ll keep a tight grip on that fork because the Eagles of OKWU aren’t giving up on their change at a heaping helping of sweet victory.

"We'll try to be back again next year, but if they don't keep their fork, grandma's not giving you another fork."

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