Athletes Sacrifice Free Time

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There is a minority of coaches out there, and I stress a very small minority, who fancy press coverage for their teams only when they are victorious or win a championship.

In the good times, those coaches clamor for ink without regard to the many other athletes and teams also worthy of space on the sports pages. Those coaches are usually the most vociferous and raucous when they erroneously deem they have been slighted.

But when their teams fall into a funk and victories are far and few behind, those coaches are nowhere to be found. They don't answer e-mails or phone calls and usually fail to provide scoring summaries to the press as the Arizona Interscholastic Association has asked all coaches to do. From this side of a sports reporter's desk, those coaches make it doubly tough to provide proper news coverage.

It seems to us in the editorial department, that all coaches should hope their teams be adequately represented on the sports pages whether they win or lose.

Holiday cheer

Although the Christmas holiday vacation represents a much anticipated two-week break for most Payson School District students, it's no cakewalk for the athletes.

Most of the young athletes take up winter sports knowing they will be asked to willingly attend most holiday practices and tournaments.

Among the teams with a busy holiday agenda is the PHS wrestling squad. The Longhorns host the Rim Country Duals matches Dec. 19 and 20 in Wilson dome and almost immediately begin preparations for the Mingus Invitational Jan. 2 and 3 in Cottonwood.

The Lady Longhorns basketball team members will be among the busiest of student/athletes. They'll be preparing to host 16 teams in the Holiday Hoops tournament to be held Dec. 29 and 30 in Wilson dome and the old gymnasium. For two full days, teams from around the state will battle for tournament honors. It's an exciting, but busy, couple of days for the teens.

The Longhorn boys basketball squad will conduct regular holiday practices in preparation for its first-ever appearance Dec. 29 and 30 at Bradshaw Mountain Invitational.

Also on the PHS holiday agenda is the Lady Longhorns soccer team's visit to the Moon Valley Invitational Tournament. Coach Randy Wilcox will take his charges to the Rockets' campus Dec. 29 to Jan 2 where the team will battle for tournament honors.

Trudging off to grueling practice sessions and tournaments when fellow students are kicking back enjoying the pleasures of a holiday vacation is tough for any teenager.

But to a teen, most realize it is among the sacrifices they must make as athletes.

Fans and supporters should also recognize the many sacrifices dedicated coaches, their wives and kids make during the holidays. Often, family vacations and holiday celebrations are put off or rescheduled so the coaches can be with their teams.

If you see a coach or athlete around town this month, give them a pat on the back and a huge thank-you for the many sacrifices they willingly make during the holiday season.

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