Like most every coach on the junior high and high school level, Chuck Hardt is not in the profession for its paycheck.
Prep and junior high coaches are paid on a season's contract which usually turns out to be much less than minimum wage.
Because there is no significant monetary compensation, coaches like Chuck remain in the profession for a variety of reasons, one of which is the self satisfaction and gratification of seeing athletes and teams succeed.
Last week had to be a special moment in Chuck's career in that he was able to wield for his team which is still in its fledgling stages an inaugural invitation to the most acclaimed cross country invitational in Arizona.
After anxiously waiting for weeks, the invitation to participate in the 28th Annual Conley Tempe Cross Country Invitational arrived.
Saturday, Chuck's Lady Longhorns will find themselves where the coach always envisioned going head to head against the best 19 teams in Arizona. The event will represent a type of coming of age for the PHS cross country program.
Attaining a status the equal of Phoenix Class 4A and 5A powers and those on the reservation is a remarkable accomplishment for the Lady Horns. Not long ago, there was no cross country program at Payson High.
But thanks to the vision of Chuck and others like him, the Longhorns were finally able to field a cross country team eight years ago.
In the early years, it was a rag-tag program that functioned without a budget. As coach, Chuck was working as a volunteer. The turnout for the team was low and there wasn't overwhelming success.
But following its inaugural season, the team was finally recognized as a full-fledged sport at PHS and given funding by the governing board.
Since the inception of the team, Chuck has spent countless hours building it into the state power it is today.
Tomorrow, the team members have earned the honor of taking to the Kiwanis Park course to test their skills against the best Arizona has to offer.
It's what high school sports is all about.
The Payson Elks Lodge will host its annual youth soccer shoot out Saturday on the North Rumsey Park multi purpose field. Registration begins at 8 a.m. Competition kicks off at 9 a.m. and continues until about noon.
Youths will compete in various age/sex divisions. The divisions include boys and girls ages 7 and under, 8 and 9, 10 and 11, and 12 and 13. The age is determined as of Aug. 1, 2001. A birth certificate is required at registration.
Winners in the Payson competition earn the right to advance to the district kick-off, which will be held later this fall in Prescott. The state finals will be held in Tempe.
Youngsters interested in participating should show up tomorrow at Rumsey prior to 8 a.m. There is no registration fee.