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by BERRY TRAMEL on Oklahoman.com

Liz McLaughlin remembers the days when she and her husband weren’t trying to impact other people’s kids. Their own children kept the McLaughlins quite busy.

“It’s hard to look back when you have this many kids to see what you physically did besides get up every morning,” McLaughlin said. “Everyone got home, and every single person were on one or two teams. So you were either going to a practice, you spent all day Saturday and Sunday in some remote town somewhere, in some tournament.”

The routine was constant. Get kids to practice. Get everyone fed. Make sure everyone still liked each other at the end of the day.

“As they get older and you get out of the weeds and you think about what’s possible, that’s where we started listening more to what was on our heart,” McLaughlin said.

The result was Fields & Futures, the organization the McLaughlins founded to build new athletic fields for Oklahoma City Public Schools. Fields & Futures set out to build 33 fields, tracks and courts across 16 schools, and 30 have been completed. The rest nearly are finished. The fields also are provided with an endowment to sustain maintenance.

“We know it was a God thing,” Liz McLaughlin said.

In 2011, the McLaughlins were selling the family business, Advance Foods, that came with a financial windfall. The McLaughlins knew a new season of their life had arrived.

They toured Jefferson Middle School with Wes Welker, the NFL star from private school Heritage Hall whose foundation was providing grants to Oklahoma City Public Schools for items ranging from new uniforms to refurbished weight rooms.

Fields & Futures