For high school athletes this is the most exciting time of the year.
The onset of the fall sports season brings new challenges and with those come the opportunity to reap the rewards of successfully representing your town, school, family and yourself.
Extracurricular activities, whether it be sports, band, drama or spirit line, are as an important part of the public education process as academics.
Lessons can be learned on the playing field -- sportsmanship, character, work ethic, teamwork and commitment -- that are often not part of the algebra or English curriculum.
Also, friendships are forged that can last a lifetime.
Spend every afternoon after school for three consecutive months on the field or court with a teammate or a coach and you get to know that person very well.
The hours traveling on buses to Blue Ridge, Show Low, Alchesay or wherever, also tend to build a camaraderie that is unique to sports.
Sadly, some students choose not to participate in extracurricular activities choosing instead to go home after school and play video games.
I feel sorry for those teens. They are missing out on so much of their youth.
I can't imagine what there is about sitting on a couch playing video games that could replace the thrills of hearing chin straps buckle and seeing Friday night lights brighten the evening skies.
Charging onto the field in front of your parents, classmates, friends and teachers is a thrill never to be forgotten.
For parents, teachers and coaches, an adult obligation is to continually remind those participating in extracurricular activities that their commitments are being recognized.
It would be easy to go home after school, kick back, pop open a soda and flick on the television.
But, it's tough to wrap up a day in the classroom with two or more hours in a grueling practice session that often involves wind sprints, strength training, head butting and possibly a little tail-chewing.
After that, it's home for a late bite to eat and a few hours of homework.
It's challenging, but in the end it's worth it.
Around town, if you see an athlete or any teen participating in extra curricular activities, give him or her a pat on the back.
They deserve it.
NFL/Pepsi Punt, Pass and Kick
The Punt, Pass and Kick competition allows boys and girls ages 8 through 15 to show their football skills in punting, passing and placekicking. Scores are based on distance and accuracy. Competition will be held at Payson High School's Varsity Baseball Field on Sept. 8, beginning at 5 p.m. Registration begins Aug. 28. The finalists in both boys and girls divisions will advance to regional competition. Regional winners may advance to the state championship that will be held during an Arizona Cardinals football game.
Participation is free. Participants must provide a valid birth certificate.
Contact Mary McMullen at 474-5242 ext. 358 for more information.
Parks and recreation news
NFL Flag Football: Registration has been extended through today, Aug. 4, for the NFL Flag Football league.
The league is for boys and girls ages 6 through 14. The cost is $25 per player.
All participants receive an NFL Cardinals backpack and team jersey.
The league begins Monday, Aug. 28.
There is no late registration for this league.
Turn and Burn Series: Progressive, no age group, pole and barrel racing begins Aug. 9 and continues through September.
Books open at 5:30 p.m. Races start at 6:30 p.m.
Entry fee is $5 per event.
Monsoon 5K Run: The Monsoon 5K Run is slated for 9 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 5.
The pre-registration fee is $15 for the 3.1-mile course around Green Valley Park. It costs $20 to enter the day of the race.
For more information on these events, contact the Payson Parks and Recreation Department, 1000 W. Country Club Drive; call (928) 474-5242 ext. 7, or visit the Web site www.paysonparks.com.