Grand Canyon Games Begin

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The Grand Canyon State Games, which kickoff today (Friday) at 100 sports venues in the Valley, are expected to draw more than 10,000 athletes.

Amateur athletes from 3 to 99 years old have competed in past games.

The games were founded 11 years ago with the mission of providing competition for everybody, regardless of age or ability.

The Rim country is again expected to send a large contingent of athletes to the games. Among the local squads will be the Tonto Apache Track and Field team that three years ago was named the games' outstanding male and female athletes.

When the Tonto Apaches were chosen the recipients of the award, it was a marked contrast to previous years. Traditionally, officials had named a single male and female as winners of the award. But after watching the Tonto Apaches sweep through both the summer and winter games, officials opted to name the entire team, rather than an individual, as winners of the prestigious award.

The most popular sport among the 37 offered at the games is basketball. Also extremely popular with the state's amateur athletes is soccer, track and field and baseball.

Some other offerings include arm wrestling, BMX racing, softball, tae kwon do, tennis, weightlifting, cycling, bowling, in-line hockey and baton twirling.

Booklets and entry forms are available at the Bashas' and Payson 76/Circle Ks.

Let us know

If you're one of the individuals or teams that participate in Grand Canyon Games, we would like to hear from you. Call Max Foster at 474-5251 and let us know about your accomplishments. We'll try to get them in print.

Football sign-up

Payson youth football and cheerleading registration will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. tomorrow (Saturday) at Manny's Batting Cages at 1205 N. Beeline Highway.

Prospective players and cheerleaders must bring a copy of their birth certificates to the registration.

The registration fee is $70 for players and $60 for cheerleaders. Discounts are available for families who have more than one child participating in the program.

Players are assigned to leagues --ighty mite, minor or major --ased on a combination of their age and weight.

Youngsters from 6 to 13 years old and weighing less than 115 pounds are eligible to participate. Ages are determined as of July 28, 2003.

Last year, 250 youngsters participated in the program. Also last season, Payson fielded six Central Arizona Youth Football Association teams -- two in each age/weight division.

According to youth football spokesperson Karen Schrank, Payson might add more teams this year because early registrations are on the upswing especially among the younger players. All new players will be drafted onto their respective teams July 26.

Practices begin July 28. The season kicks off Sept. 6.

Call Schrank at 474-5613 or Angela Parker at 468-6482 for more information.

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