A contingent of four promising athletes, accompanied by coach Linda Gibson, will jet to Australia this summer where they will represent the Longhorn soccer program in international competition.
Another PHS soccer player, Ashley Hollobaugh, is one of just three Arizona players chosen to tour Europe for similar soccer competition.
On the Australian tour with Gibson are Ashley Grubbs, LeeAnn Owens, Jennifer Plumb and Jamie Peace.
That crew will visit Down Under July 13 to 28 as part of the G'day Sports International competition that each summer sends Arizona teams to the country to participate in athletic/cultural exchanges.
Twenty other athletes from around the state will accompany the Payson contingent to Australia.
There, they will compete in two tournaments, Gibson said. One will be against several Australian teams and the other is slated to be an international tournament.
Gibson said she didn't yet know which countries would be represented in the international shoot-out but believed at least one squad would represent Africa.
Playing against quality foreign soccer teams, she said, could prove to be a unique molding experience to help the young players prepare for title runs in next year's post-season tournaments.
While in Australia, the Arizona team will visit the cities of Cairns and Toowoomba.
Gibson said they will tour animal parks, the Kuranda Village by rail, the Great Barrier Reef and the country's "surfer paradise." Also on their agenda is the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park.
For a few days, the youngsters will reside with a host family and also visit the Australian schools
On the return trip to America, the team stops at famous Waikiki Beach in Oahu.
The cultural exchanges that occur during the visit, Gibson said, are once-in-a-lifetime experiences her players are looking forward to.
The athletes will not be the first Payson High School student/athletes to participate in the Australian tour. Since the late 1980s, Longhorn athletes have competed on the tours in the sports of baseball, football and wrestling.
Only last summer, Horn all-star baseballer Bryan Zumbro starred on an Arizona All-Star team that played a series of international games in the country. Zumbro said it was an experience he will long remember.
In 1995, former PHS football coach Dan Dunn escorted an Arizona gridiron squad Down Under and returned praising the country, saying it was a place he could live happily.
To be a part of the 2000 tour, Grubbs, Owens, Plumb and Peace have worked to raise just over $2,000, which will be used to pay their traveling expenses.
Ongoing fund-raisers include raffle tickets at $5 each for a chance at two round-trip airline tickets from Los Angeles to Sydney.
They're also selling USA team T-shirts at $15 each, have held bake sales and are working concessions at Phoenix Bank One Ballpark.
An upcoming car wash will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., May 27 at Energy West, 200 W. Longhorn Road. The fee is $5 per car.
All four girls traveling Down Under were starting members of the 1999 varsity Lady Horn team coached by Gibson.
Grubbs, Owens and Plumb are all sophomores. Peace was a senior who graduated with the Class of 2000.
Grubbs was chosen for the touring team as a defensive halfback and forward, Owens is a fullback and Plumb a goalie and halfback. Peace is a fullback.
In addition to being superior athletes, the four are also honor students.
Hollobaugh, a junior three-year starter for the Lady Horns, will tour Europe July 24 to Aug. 7 as part of a United States team that will play similar squads representing Germany, Holland, Belgium, England and other countries.
"Girls for that (USA) team have been selected nationwide," Gibson said.
To earn the $4,245 to make the journey, Hollobaugh has hosted several garage sales and has been awarded sponsorships from local individuals and businesses.
To help sponsor the girls on the Australia trip or Hollobaugh's European excursion, contact Gibson at 474-0964 or 474-2233.