In researching past issues of the Payson Roundup for today's "Year in Review," a common thread wound through many of the sports stories.
Much too often, we were writing about coaches resigning and new ones replacing them.
In all, five new head coaches were hired at Payson High School in the past year. Other coaches stepped aside at Rim Country Middle School and some on local youth teams.
That kind of turnover isn't good for the sports programs, the athletes, the school or the community.
In making New Year's resolutions, maybe one should be to better support the coaches we now have.
Financially, coaching is a losing proposition, but many chose it as an occupation as corny as it sounds to have a positive impact on the students.
Most coaches come from backgrounds in which sports and athletics played a prominent role in their development. As adults, their motivation is to give back to youth what someone usually a former coach once did for them.
But, sometimes the pressures of the job become so great that even the best of coaches decide to step aside. Those pressures often come from well-meaning but ill-informed parents who have only the interests of their children at stake.
Parents should remember that coaches must make their decisions based on what's best for the entire team.
No matter how upset, there's absolutely no room on the high school sports scene for parents to publicly second guess underpaid and overworked coaches.
No matter how much a parent or fan thinks they might know, they don't have the first-hand knowledge a coach has about his or her team and players.
When a handful of unknowing parents do become a distraction, school administrators must have the courage to step to the forefront and protect their coaches.
If a coach needs guidance or a reprimand, there is a system in place for administrators not parents to do just that.
Bowing down to parent pressure is not a part of that system.
The Arizona Trail
Since the Arizona Trail passes near Payson and through the heart of the Rim country, local readers will be interested in a recently published book entitled, "Crossing Arizona," by Chris Townsend.
Hiking alone for two months, Townsend traversed the Arizona Trail that spans from the Mexico border to Utah.
During his jaunt, Townsend hiked the Santa Catalina, Santa Rita and San Francisco mountains, as well as the Mogollon Rim, Sonoran Desert and Grand Canyon.
He writes he rarely encountered another hiker and that heat, discomfort and the quest for water were constant concerns.
Also, he wrote, that he "experienced moments of profound solitude and extraordinary beauty gazing across the endless vistas of the Grand Canyon, making camp under the stars each night, or reflecting on the stark beauty of this vast, wild, uniquely American place."
The book is illustrated with maps and photographs taken on the trip.
Locals might recall the Arizona Trail began more than 20 years ago when a Flagstaff school teacher visualized a hiker being able to cover the entire state, from north to south. The trail is being built by dedicated outdoor enthusiasts of all types with the organizational aid of the Arizona Trail Association.
Payson Parks and Recreation is also playing a role in developing the trail in the Rim country.
The book, priced at $17.95, is published by The Countryman Press. Call (802) 457-4826 for information. Also, visit the website www.countrymanpress.com.