Thanks to the generosity of the Tonto Apaches and the Mazatzal Casino, the Payson High School boys and girls basketball teams enjoyed a rare and very welcome treat during their Feb. 5 journey to Page.
The coaches and teens rode to Page in two comfortable, state-of-the-art tour buses rented for the teams by the tribe and casino.
The buses were equipped with heavily padded reclining seats, plenty of leg room and head rests.
Riders were able to stretch their legs, recline in sheer comfort, catch a few winks and enjoy a smoother, faster ride than they are accustomed to.
The buses also had screens to watch movies on.
Simply put, the buses were much better suited for long-distance travel than the yellow buses that usually transport the teams to away games.
Those buses, which are equipped with rock-hard bench seats, little legroom and have no restrooms, are designed for taking younger students short distances, not for five- and six-hour jaunts.
All those associated with the Longhorn basketball program want to give a big "Thank-you" to the tribe and casino. Their generosity made the long, grueling trip from Payson to Page a much more pleasurable.
Big crowd would help
Longhorn boosters are hoping a huge crowd turns out to support the Lady Longhorns at 6 p.m. this evening in Wilson Dome. The game, against Chinle, will be a Grand Canyon region tournament opener.
The visitors from the reservation northland will probably bring their usually huge contingent of fans whose vocal support of the Wildcats could erase some of the Lady Horns home court advantage.
If Payson can equal Chinle's turnout, the Lady Horns can enjoy some of that old-fashioned home cookin' they worked so hard to obtain in the regular season.
When Payson traveled to Chinle in early January, the local players marveled at the number of fans who turned out to support the Wildcats.
Now it's Payson's turn to show our community is equally as supportive of our youth.
Booster group to meet
Kristi Ford, Farrell Hoosava and a band of ardent football supporters are laying plans to form a booster club that could rival the potent and highly active organization of the late 1980s when they were headed by Pat Velasco.
An organizational meeting for the new group will be held at 7 p.m. Feb. 10 at Payson Eye Care.
At the meeting, an executive board will be formed that Hoosava has agree to head.
Ford invites anyone interested in the football program either at Rim Country Middle School on Payson High School to attend.
"There is no reason that more people are not involved and that we don't have more (players) participating," Ford said.
With PHS moving back to 3A region next year, the goal of the group will be to help Jerry Rhoades build the football program into one that can rival those powerhouses that exist in Blue Ridge, Show Low and Snowflake.
For more information, call (928) 474-8665 or (928) 978-1567.