"There's nothing for teenagers to do in Payson."
That squabble has been sounded by hundreds of Rim country youths.
The validity of it would most likely be questioned by anyone strolling through the bustling Payson High School campus last week.
Activities included a youth baseball camp, an elementary/junior high volleyball camp, a wrestling clinic and two-a-day football practices for aspiring high school gridders.
To participate in any of the activities, youngsters didn't need to be outstanding athletes. The only requirement was a commitment to attend each session and a strong work ethic.
At the diamond
The baseball camp, which was sponsored by the Payson Parks and Recreation Department, attracted more than 40 campers to the weekday sessions.
Instructors included Payson High School baseball coach Teddy Pettet, assistant coach David Daniels and several varsity players.
During the sessions, the youngsters worked on perfecting the fundamentals of the sport including throwing, hitting, fielding, pitching and base-running. Coaches also scheduled games and challenges as motivation.
At the conclusion of the camp, Pettet said it was a complete success and said he was elated with what he considered a very good turnout of players.
The volleyball camp in Wilson dome drew more than 20 campers eager to improve their court skills.
Lady Longhorn coach Chris Schwind, assistant coach Trevor Creighton and several high school players served as camp directors.
The reward for high school players who worked as coaches was a 50-percent tuition payment for an upcoming prep training camp.
After warm-up and conditioning drills, the coaches separated the campers into two groups. The older group was made up of players entering eighth and ninth grades. The younger group was mostly fifth and sixth graders.
"We tried to teach the younger players basics and rules of the game," Schwind said. "Some had never seen a (volleyball) game before."
The more seasoned players worked diligently at improving their passing, setting and serving skills.
On the mat
The wrestling training camp in the Wilson Dome drew 30 wrestlers entering seventh to 12th grade.
Newly appointed Longhorn coach Rich Ormand served as camp director.
Staff clinician's included an array of well-known tacticians including former Payson High School coaches Dennis Pirch and Dave LaMotte. Also on hand were former PHS wrestling stars R.C. LaHaye and Christopher Pirch. Pirch attended Cornell University on a wrestling scholarship and LaHaye is a member of the Western State University of Colorado team. Rounding out the staff was PHS assistant coaches Doug Eckhardt and Don Heizer as well as Gilbert High School coach Dave Reuter.
According to Ormand, the focus of the sessions was to train the wrestler in techniques, strength training, conditioning and mental attitude. Many of the campers were on hand to prepare for summer regional and national competitions.
Playing the field
Football preseason practices -- under the supervision of newly appointed coach Jerry Rhoades -- are being conducted Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Last week, more than 20 players attended each session.
The purpose of the camp is to train and prepare high school age youngsters for the upcoming season.
In addition to weight training and conditioning, the youngsters were taught the basics of offensive and defensive football.
Rhoades stressed the importance of attending the sessions and asked that all prospective players make every effort to participate.
The football campaign kicks off with a controlled scrimmage Aug. 22 in Snowflake.
Next season, Payson will move to the Class 4A Grand Canyon region from the 3A East where the school has resided the past several years.
Instead of playing longtime rivals Blue Ridge, Show Low and Round Valley, the Longhorns will be battling the likes of Coconino, Mingus, Flagstaff, Page and Sinagua.