View a special story about one Sooner mom, plus photos and comments from every sport.
Story by Andrew Gilman
NORMAN, Okla. --
Terry Nowotarski gets text messages daily. Phone calls, too.
It's tough being so far from her daughters. They get homesick sometimes. Nowotarski misses them, too.
She won't be with her four daughters this Sunday for Mother's Day, and that's going to be tough on her and her family.
"We'll still celebrate somehow," she said. "We'll have a toast."
Nowotarski is the proud mother of three Sooners, including current OU soccer player Zoe Dickson who was preceded in Norman by older sisters Norrelle and Tiana.
"I wish I could spend it with my mom," said former softballer Norrelle, who now lives in Dallas. "She's the rock. She's everything. We're all really close with her and we all wish we could spend the day with her."
Nowotarski raised her daughters in Orange, Calif., as a single parent, playing mother, cheerleader and taxi driver, taking her family from event to event and game to game, while attending night school and working at the same time.
Her daughters aren't around, but Nowotarski has never stopped being a mother -- for her kids and for others.
A home hospice worker, Nowotarski spends her days caring for others, providing emotional and physical assistance. "Sometimes it's difficult to deal with, but it also puts life into perspective," she said.
So, while she may not be with her family this Sunday, she'll be there for others. Just like she's always been.
"She's a really strong female," Norrelle said. "She always found time to cook, do laundry, boss four bossy girls around and be a great mom. I think mom's calling was to be a mom. Even a mom to people she doesn't know -- taking in kids and mothering them. Ever since I was little, my mom has always worked really hard. She sets a good example for us."
Norrelle was the first of the sisters to come to Norman, playing softball. Next was Tiana, who played soccer, and now it's Zoe, who's on the soccer team. But without Norrelle coming east to Oklahoma, her sisters might not have made the trip, too.
"I went on the recruiting trip, checked it out and fell in love instantly," Norrelle said. "I remember crying when I told my mom, and then she started crying, too. She never said not to go. I think she knew it was right for me."
What's right for Nowotarski is knowing she tried to teach them the right way.
"I tried to raise them to know they have to work hard for everything," Nowotarski said. "I'll do anything for them, but I don't believe in making everything happen for them. They have to do it for themselves.
"Work hard and be generous. There's nothing better than helping other people. They have good days and bad days; when they go away it forces them to grow up. I'm blessed they are at such a great school."
So, while Zoe misses her mom -- "I miss her every day," she said -- she knows that being more than 1,000 miles away is also difficult for her mom.
"That's the hardest thing, being so far away," Zoe said. "When we were younger, she never missed any of my games, so I know it's hard for her to miss our games now."
So, here's a toast to the mother of three Sooners:
"She's said her girls are away," Norrelle said. "But we're all sending her a gift -- some of her favorite things. Hopefully she'll like it and I hope I can model my behavior after my mother. I think we all turned out pretty good. She's a good mom."