Payson High School football coach Jerry Rhoades has started a program that rewards athletes for their accomplishments on and off the field.
Known as "Ring of Honor," recipients receive a ring much like football players on state championship teams are given. The rings for PHS's first class were designed by Jostens -- a firm that has been selling class rings to high school students for decades.
The rings are of the quality they could eventually become lifelong reminders of the players' commitment to excellence.
To become a member of the Longhorn Ring of Honor, football players must meet stringent criteria during about a nine-month period that begins in November when the regular season wraps up and ends in early August just as preseason drills are getting underway.
The requirements for being accepted into the ring include participation in a PHS winter or spring sport, commitment to the off-season weight program, participation in spring football, commitment to the three-day-a-week summer program, academic excellence, and school and community involvement.
Football players receive a designated number of points for each of the requirements they meet.
For example, the higher the grade point average a player earns, the more points he receives toward induction into the ring of honor. Players also can earn points for participating in student council, drama and plays, volunteering at the senior center, attending early morning weight training, tutoring other students, working in the middle school reading program, and a variety of other activities.
The object of the ring of honor is to help athletes mold themselves into well-rounded students and citizens.
During the program's inaugural year at PHS, 155 points were needed to be inducted into the program.
Eight players met the requirements: Nick DeGroot, Kyle Sachak, Donnie Engler, Derrick Hoosava, Tyler Williams, Chris Skinner, Luke Apfel and Donnie Wilbanks.
With 218 points, Wilbanks was the highest point producer. Skinner earned 217 points.
In the ring of honor system, players keep track of their own points and turned them in to Rhoades at the beginning of preseason practices.
Eventually, the number of points needed to be a member of the exclusive band of players will be increased.
Rhoades said he eventually wanted to make membership in the ring of honor a requirement for playing varsity football at PHS.
The coach says he couldn't make the requirement this season because only eight players made the commitment to participate in the inaugural program.
Although membership is not what Rhoades had hoped for, he's confident future players will eagerly look forward to participating in the ring of honor program.
Little League to host sign-ups
The Payson Little League has scheduled a series of five upcoming player registrations.
All sign-ups will be held at the Payson Bashas' store.
The dates are:
- Jan. 12, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
- Jan 15, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Jan. 19, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
- Jan. 22, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Jan. 29, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The registration fee is $60 per player. Families with more than one player participating receive a discount of $5.
For those players who register on time, tryouts and the annual draft is Feb. 19 at Rumsey I. League play begins April 16 at Rumsey Park with the traditional opening ceremonies and first round of games. Action continues in the league weekdays until the regular season wraps up June. 11.
In addition to appealing for more participation, Little League officials are in need of volunteers to oversee the snack bar at Rumsey Park.
For more information, call (928)-468-1711.