Since its founding 44 years ago, the Arizona Sports Camp (ASC) has developed strong ties to the Rim country.
Most of the bonds have been with local aspiring players who have turned to the legendary basketball camp to improve their skills for junior high and high school play.
Among the first Payson players to attend the camp were Nikki and Colleen Hale in the mid-1980s. The two used their experiences there to go on to become two of the Lady Longhorns' finest players.
Last season, Payson High School senior Andy Sargent was named the most valuable player at the camp.
In addition to attracting local players, ASC has also drawn Payson coaches to serve on the camp staff.
Among those is former Payson High School boys basketball coach Mike Loutzenheiser who will return June 20-24 to ASC for a second successive year.
Another tie ASC has to the Rim country is camp director Gary Ernst.
The highly successful Mesa Mountain View coach maintains a summer home in Payson and enjoys nothing better than escaping the searing Valley heat with a weekend trip to the Rim country.
Each June, he also brings his Toro teams to the Rim country where they participate in the Payson Invitational Summer Tournament
During Loutzenheiser's upcoming stay at the camp, he's issued an invitation to aspiring boys basketball players in grades 3 to 12 to accompany him.
He says, a week-long stay at the camp can take a player's game to the next level.
During the camp sessions, Ernst, Loutzenheiser and other coaches teach the campers to focus and teamwork and fundamentals to help them gain greater confidence on the court.
According to Loutzenheiser, the camp promotes a positive attitude on and off the court while emphasizing basic skills and techniques.
Campers receive individual attention, and techniques to improve their weak areas while developing their total game performance.
The camp is held on the campus of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott.
The facilities include a spacious gym, an outdoor swimming pool, air-conditioned residence halls and a cafeteria that supplies nutritious, good tasting meals.
In addition to the June 20 to 24 session attended by Loutzenheiser, sessions will be held for boys June 27 to July 1 and July 4 to July 8
A girls' session will be held July 11 to 15.
The fee for overnight campers is $340. It includes room, board, on-the-floor instruction, classroom sessions, video-taped analysis, full time trainer, T-shirt, films, swimming and game room.
ASC entry forms are available at the Payson Roundup, 708 N. Beeline Highway.
For more information call Loutzenheiser at (928) 474-8004 or Ernst at (480) 835-6485