Since the inception of the Grand Canyon State Winter Games 11 years ago, the Rim country has been well represented in the Olympic Festival designed for amateur athletes of all ages and abilities.
Several years ago, GC officials departed from the norm by naming the Tonto Apache Track and Field team the games' "Male and Female Athletes of the Year."
Prior to the Tonto Apaches' selection, individuals were always chosen for the honors.
In addition to participation by the Tonto Apache team, hundreds of local athletes -- including a large contingent of young wrestlers -- have showcased their skills in the games.
With the onset of winter, it's time for local athletes to be thinking about training and entering the games.
To enter the winter version of the games, a participant must be a resident of Arizona for at least 30 days immediately prior to the first day of competition.
Booklets detailing the winter games are free at statewide Circle K/76 and Bashas' stores. Both Payson Circle K North and Payson Bashas' have a supply of the booklets and entry forms.
The booklets provide a complete description of each sport and the requirements for participation. Among some of the most popular offerings of the winter games are basketball, bowling, cycling, four-on-four flag football, softball, soccer, volleyball and tennis.
Competitions in less well-known sports include arm wrestling, dance and billiards.
The earliest events begin Feb. 22. Others are held throughout the month of March. Most are slated for various venues in the Phoenix area.
Registration fees vary from $20 for some individual events to $175 for team competitions.
The executive commissioners of this year's games are Arizona Diamondbacks pitching star Randy Johnson and Tom Gugliotta of the Phoenix Suns.