Before flying off to Australia where she will play on an Arizona All-Star soccer team against foreign competition, 16-year-old Jennifer Plumb took time to e-mail a thank-you to many of those who helped her and her three friends earn the more than $2,000 each that it took to make the jaunt.
"Well, I'm off and looking forward to playing the Australians in a game of futbol. This would not have been possible if it was not for the help of a lot of nice people who bought shirts, raffle tickets, car wash tickets, goodies at the bake sale, the burgers at Chaparral Pines' BBQ, the baby-sitting jobs, Town of Payson for employment, Mr. Foster's newspaper articles and the thirsty fans at high school graduation.
"Some of the local businesses that also helped out were Roy Haught Excavating, Payson Concrete, Carl's Towing, Phil White Ford, the staff at Frontier Bank, Payson Jewelers and Pizza Factory.
"Thank you for this exciting and wonderful opportunity."
At a time when many teenagers are whining that there's nothing to do in Payson, or suffer the "what's in it for me" philosophy, the attitude of Jennifer and friends, who earned the money to make the sports/cultural exchange trip to Australia, is refreshing.
When offered the opportunity to travel abroad to play in the all-star games, the teenagers went about performing every odd job they could find.
After months of their fund-raising efforts, the girls LeeAnn Owens, Ashley Grubbs, Jamie Peace and Jennifer finally had the money.
They'll travel abroad knowing no one gave them the trip they earned this opportunity.
You can bet that during the two weeks the girls are in Australia, they'll serve as great ambassadors for Payson.
Inaugural Little League team
For the first time in the history of Payson-Pine Little League, a minor division (9-10 years) all-star team was fielded to participate in post-season tournaments. Officials were able to send an all-star team because this year the league abandoned using machines or coaches to pitch and instead used players, as is done in area and district LL tournaments.
The inaugural team traveled to Continental Sports Club in Flagstaff early this month and finished with a 1-2 record. Payson opened with an 11-1 loss to Page, but then rebounded to whip Mount Elden 14-4. The Payson stars were later eliminated 12-8 by Flagstaff Continental.
In the final game, a pitcher of the future might have been uncovered in 10-year old Adam Haught.
The son of former Payson High baseball coach Bruce Haught, Adam hurled five innings, did not walk a batter and had several strikeouts. The youngster put on a display of resiliency late in the game when he shook off a line drive to the chest and returned to the mound to strike out the next batter at the plate.
Billy Bob on a roll
With a second-place finish in a JPGAA Southwest Sectional tournament played Monday at Rio Verde Golf Course in Fountain Hills, 14-year-old Billy Bob Hoyt added yet another medal to his already bulging trophy case.
His tally of 74 was just two strokes off the winning pace. On the front nine, Hoyt carded a two over par 33. On the back nine, he shot even par.
Next up for Hoyt is a 36-hole pick-a-partner tournament to be played today (Friday) at Sun City Pebblebrook Golf Course. Hoyt's partner will be 14-year-old school friend Brandon Kelley.