The past two weeks at Rim Country Middle School, basketball tryouts were held and teams selected. Those who didn't make the teams were more than a little disappointed ... a few tears were even shed.
It's tough on young people to be told they might not be good enough to participate on their school's team.
Equally gut-wrenching is the coach's responsibility to make the decisions of which players are cut and which ones make the team. Every decent coach detests the chore of paring a roster. Cuts are a nasty fact of life and will probably remain so as long as public school athletic programs go underfunded.
When cut, it's important for teenagers to remember that there have been many successful high school, college and professional athletes who didn't make their elementary or junior high school team.
Through the years, I've witnessed athletes who were mediocre, at best, in junior high go on to become exceptional high school performers. Some even went on to excel in college.
In the late '60s in South Phoenix, I watched a young football player who didn't make his school's flag football team eventually star in high school and earn a collegiate scholarship. He accomplished all that while being raised in the heart of the ghetto.
The one characteristic that teen, and all other, athletes had in common was perseverance. When cut from a team, they found another way to participate in their chosen sport. Eventually, their determination paid off when they made the varsity as juniors as seniors.
Fortunately for the Rim country young people who didn't make the Maverick basketball teams, there is another local hoop program they can turn to.
The Payson Parks and Recreation Department is hosting a seventh- and eighth-grade boys and girls basketball league that will begin play Feb. 16. Games will be played Saturdays and some weeknights until March 30.
Registration for play runs until Jan. 25 at the Parks and Rec offices at Green Valley Park. The registration fee is $20, which includes a T-shirt and team pizza party at the conclusion of the season.
Players may request teams and coaches, but those requests are not guaranteed.
Parents of children not selected to the RCMS teams should encourage their youngsters to participate in the town program.
The league is a great opportunity for youngsters to keep their basketball dreams alive.
Local Little League officials held the first of five player registrations yesterday at the Payson Police Department meeting room.
The next opportunity for players to sign up will be from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Jan. 17.
Follow-up registrations will be Jan. 22 and Jan. 25. On both days, registration will be from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The last chance to register will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 26. All will be held at the police department.
Officials urge parents to register their children as soon as possible to ensure that each player has a place on a team, and also to help the board better plan for the season.
Along with a registration fee of $40, players and their parents must take a certified birth certificate and proof of residence, such as a driver's license or utility bill.
Photocopies of birth certificates, baptismal or hospital certificates are not accepted by Little League.
For families with more than one youngster involved in the program, the registration fee is $35 for a second child and $30 for a third. The fees include a complete uniform, which the player may keep.
Youngsters ages 7 to 15 years (as of July 31) may participate in the league.
This season, the league will field four divisions farm (7 and 8 years), minors (9 to 11), majors (9 to 12) and seniors (13-to 15).
League officials also are in need of coaches, sponsors and other volunteers.
Call Kevin Sokol (472-4617, Don Bell (474-4303), Kim Sleeper (476-5275) or Michelle Halenar (474-6635) for more information.