Teenager Whitney Hardt's letter to the editor published in last Friday's Payson Roundup has tongues a waggin' in local sports circles.
An articulate and bright youngster who has competed on the national track and field level in grueling long-distance runs, Whitney expressed concerns about the recent resignation of former Lady Longhorn basketball coach Jerry Daniels. She also posed several interesting queries into the less-than-respectful treatment afforded some prep coaches including her father, Coach Shaun Hardt.
Coming off a banner 1998-99 school year in which Payson High School won for the first time the most prestigious award given out by the Arizona Interscholastic Association, it first appeared coaches might have less friction to deal with as they led their teams into 2000.
But not even the Don F. Stone Award and four state championships have slowed the criticism of the past. No middle or high school coach has been immune from naysayers.
In almost every nook and cranny lies an upset fan or parent eager to waylay already overly beleaguered coaches working for paychecks less than what babysitting pays.
Possibly the best solution for parents to handle concerns they might have was offered by Daniels himself.
In 1998, I was the coach of the Rim Country Middle School eighth-grade football team and on our roster was one of Daniel's sons. Apparently, Daniels didn't believe his son was receiving sufficient playing time.
Prior to an afternoon practice, Daniels discreetly approached me and asked what his son could do to make himself a better football player and earn more playing time. We discussed the issues and he left vowing to help his son any way possible.
The boy evolved into one of the top-notch young players on an undefeated, championship team.
Certainly, all problems aren't solved that easily, but Daniels handled his concerns in a way that was in the best interest of his son and the team.
Young Whitney Hardt is right, we all need to support our coaches. Enough of the second guessing.
The Second Annual Coaches Symposium will be held from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Murdock hall on the campus of Arizona State University.
The symposium is for all coaches -- Little League, high school, junior college and collegiate --in any sport.
Sponsored by ASU and the Arizona Tobacco Education and Prevention Program, the topics will cover total fitness, nutrition and health, tobacco use awareness, oral health and spit tobacco and youth cessation resources.
The symposium will also include lunch and visits from celebrity sports guests.
Call (800) 432-2772 or (480) 727-2772 for more information.
Can you say "Gonzaga?"
The happiest man in Payson this week might be former PHS boys' basketball coach Jim Quinlan whose alma mater Gonzaga pulled off another one of its patented NCAA tournament upsets beating highly favored St. John's 82-76 Saturday in the West Regional played in Tucson.
Prior to tip off, Quinlan was as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs, but with the win he now has a week to gather himself before the Zags play Purdue in the Sweet 16.
Gonzaga, a small college in Spokane, Washington, has captured the attention of America's basketball fans for their entertaining and fearless play.