Coaches Praise Msa's Rim Country Mission

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In a thank-you letter penned over a year ago, former Longhorn wrestling coach Dennis Pirch spouted praise for the Mogollon Sporting Association.

In it he wrote, "What you do as a group of civic-minded citizens who come together for one target purpose of improving opportunities for young people, is second to none."

Although Pirch authored the letter, it could have just as well been written by any one of the many local youth coaches whose programs have received help from the association.

Athletics, however, is not the only benefactor the MSA has chosen. Last fall, Payson High School band and choir director Larry Potvin received $2,500 to purchase a bass clarinet.

Several years ago, MSA donated money to purchase ellipsoid lights for the Payson High drama program.

MSA also has funded numerous Rim country wildlife enhancement projects including water guzzlers, controlled burns, seeding projects, habitat improvements and signage.

Several years ago, the association donated metal detectors to the Arizona Game and Fish Department. Those are currently used by officers in their investigations of poaching and other wildlife violations.

And the association helps sponsor the annual Payson Wildlife Fair/Fishing Derby and has contributed to the educational exhibits in the Rim Country Museum.

MSA's generosity has reached other programs as well, including the Chance Amon Memorial playground fund, PHS speech and debate team, Payson Youth Football League and extracurricular music classes at PHS and Rim Country Middle School.

Most of the local high school wrestling, basketball and cross country tournaments and meets received financial support from MSA. Donations have been used to purchase uniforms and equipment for several sports at both PHS and RCMS.

Last spring, the association awarded baseball coach Teddy Pettet $600 to purchase new game pants.

Coaches also received donations to send teams and individuals to summer training camps around the state.

Most of what is purchased with MSA funds would not be available from the limited school athletic budgets.

Since the inception of the MSA in 1993, more than $300,000 has been donated locally. Those contributions have helped the members meet the original MSA mission statement: "to enhance wildlife, environment, education and our economy in the Mogollon Rim country by supporting local quality game management and our local businesses."

Longtime member Jack Koon says he became involved with MSA because he was encouraged that all the money earned is used to benefit the Rim country.

Also, he said, all MSA members are volunteers, so there are minimal administrative costs within the organization.

The banquets

Generating more than one-quarter of a million dollars in 10 years would be a tall order for almost any association.

But folks should check the ledgers the MSA has done that by hosting once-a-year banquets, auctions and raffles.

Held each spring, the event has grown to become one of the Rim country's most anticipated festivities.

The evening traditionally begins with a no-host cocktail hour and continues an hour later with a dinner, raffle and auction.

At past events, the list of prizes has included rifles, pistols, shotguns, fishing poles, muzzle loaders, archery equipment, camping gear, outdoor prints, sculptures, automobile tires, wildlife mounts, travel vouchers and gift certificates.

MSA members usually make sure there is a long list of prizes and auction items for the women. Last year, a 14K gold amethyst and diamond ring was given away.

According to Koon, the items that are raffled, auctioned or given away are donated by local businessmen who wish to help the MSA in its cause.

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