Hoop, Soccer Campaigns To Change

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Season changes are the name of the game at the Payson Parks and Recreation Department.

Most of the modifications that Parks and Rec director Bill Schwind and his staff have scheduled involve youth soccer and youth basketball.

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This fall, high school aged soccer players will have the opportunity to tune up for the winter prep season in a town-sponsored recreational league. Parks and recreation leaders changed the teen-age league from the spring to the fall to better coordinate the program with the high school league.

Play in a trio of age divisions in the recreational soccer league -- 5-years-and-under, 7-years-and-under and 17-years-under -- will now be held during the fall season.

In past years, a 16-and-under league was held during the spring. That division was eliminated and replaced by the 17-and-under fall league.

According to recreation coordinator Teddy Pettet, the change was made to better coordinate the sport with the high school.

Because Payson High has moved from the 3A East region, where soccer was played in the fall, to the 4A Grand Canyon, where soccer is played in the winter, the rec department opted to change the recreation soccer season. "Now, (the youth soccer players) can participate in the fall league then go right into the high school season," Pettet said.

Parks and Rec also raised the maximum age to accommodate more players.

Soccer leagues for 10-years-and-under and 13-years-and-under players will continue to be played in the spring.

For young athletes who opt to participate in both spring soccer and Little League baseball, there could be some scheduling problems, Pettet said, "but those can be worked out individually."

Registration for play in the fall soccer leagues began this week and will continue throughout August. The fee is $20 per player. Pettet projects the season will last about five weeks and each team will play two games a week.

About eight to 10 teams are expected to participate in both the 5-and-under and 7-and-under divisions. Pettet predicts the 17-and-under division will attract about four teams.

The changes in the basketball program include moving the eighth-grade league from its former January start to late fall.

According to Pettet, the hoop season will begin in late October and continue until December.

Since the Rim Country Middle School White Mountain League basketball season doesn't tip off until January, eighth-graders can participate in both the recreational league and the school team.

"All the changes were made to better coordinate with school programs," Pettet said.

The second-, third- and fourth-grade basketball league will now start in early January. The fifth- and sixth-grade league is expected to begin in February.

For more information about the schedule changes, call Parks and Recreation at 474-5242, ext. 7.

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