When the OSU Cowgirls run a lap around the border of Cowgirl Stadium, greeting every fan on the outside of the wall after victories, it is an exercise planned for decades.
Two years into Kenny Gajewski’s stint as Oklahoma’s turf and maintenance director, the Sooners hired a new football coach who he learned from, thinking he would never use the information one day.
That coach was Bob Stoops.
“They used to take pictures after big wins,” Gajewski said. “(Stoops) used to say, ‘What I find important is celebrating wins, because winning is really hard.’ And that always stuck in my mind.”
Stoops immediately took the Sooners to bowl games, national championship games and conference titles after taking over. The immediate success became coincidental mentorship from Stoops to an onlooking Gajewski, which paid dividends over a decade later when Gajewski became OSU’s softball coach in 2015.
Like the legendary college football coach, Gajewski turned OSU’s softball team from a drought of success to contention, reaching a regional in their first season together, something he foresaw months before.
“It was my expectation during the first year to go to a regional,” Gajewski said. “I wasn’t worried, we were going to be successful. Success comes in a lot of ways. That team reaching the postseason in the first season was crazy. We were setting the standard then.”
OSU was indeed just getting started.
The Cowgirls, who barely had a winning record, took No. 2 Georgia to a win-or-go-home game at the Athens Regional in 2016, where they eventually fell, but it changed the dreams of OSU.
Seven years after taking over, Gajewski has a chance to take his Cowgirls to their third straight Women’s College World Series with a win in Super Regionals vs Clemson this weekend. While the OSU has seen its ups and downs in Gajewski’s tenure, the only change he’s seen is the possibility of success.
“I think it’s the expectation of our fans,” Gajewski said. “Expectations are really hard to achieve. That’s why we have to continue to celebrate the little things."