Local Teacher Braves Heat

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As evidenced by the number of locals who make the trek south each time the Arizona Diamondbacks play a home game day, it's obvious there is no shortage of baseball fans living in the Rim country.

Among the most dedicated of those D-backs faithful is longtime Rim Country Middle School science teacher Gloria Joe.

Through most of her life, Gloria wouldn't have been caught in a baseball park. She was a science nut and UCLA graduate determined to outdo Bill Nye.

After all, test tubes and Bunson burners have no place in the world of fast balls and sliders.

But about six years ago after attending her first Diamondback game, Gloria got hooked on the sport.

Today, she and husband Victor, along with son Michael, are frequent visitors to Bank One Ballpark.

Gloria's dedication to the D-backs runs deep enough for her to have weathered the searing desert heat last week trying to be one of the 15,000 fans who received a Luis Gonzales bobblehead doll.

Only trouble was, after several hours in line at Bank One, the dolls were gone before Gloria reached the give-away booth.

She had been denied by bobblehead mania.

Undaunted by the disappointment, Gloria vowed to return to Bank One Friday afternoon for a chance at picking up one of the Randy Johnson bobbleheads to be given out prior to that evening's game against the New York Mets.

Rim Country Middle School Principal Frank Larby got into the act by moving a late morning faculty meeting to 8 a.m., giving Gloria a jump start at driving to Phoenix.

Just as the meeting ended, Gloria was seen hunched over the wheel of the family van with sights firmly set on Bank One Ballpark.

Standing in line at Bank One for almost five hours was a humbling experience for a teacher who was once honored by Walt Disney for her excellence in the classroom.

"I had my folding chair, plenty of water and we bonded with a lot of people, but it was still really hot," she said.

At 5 p.m., officials opened the ballpark gates and the six-city-block line that began forming Thursday evening moved quickly allowing rabid fans to claim their dolls.

Finally it was Gloria's turn.

As she cradled her first bobblehead, the boredom of waiting in 108-degree heat turned to shrieks of excitement.

Oh yes, the day was also Gloria and Victor's 38th wedding anniversary. But that had to take a back seat to bobblehead.

The mania lives on.

Air Force cadet returns home

Former Payson High School baseball/football star and honor student Bryan Zumbro was in Payson last week for a short vacation with his family.

The cadet was on leave from the United States Air Force Academy.

He said he's excited about completing his freshman year at the academy and now can begin living a more normal life.

As a first-year cadet, he had to survive the constant hazing that is part of the rich tradition of the military academies.

Bryan is continuing his baseball career at the academy as both a pitcher and outfielder.

Next year, his goal is to earn a spot on the varsity as the designated hitter when not hurling. Academically, Bryan is majoring in aeronautical engineering and doing well.

His success at the AFA is a constant reminder to small-town high school students around the state that they too can set their goals high.

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