Seniors Head To World Games

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The Payson Cougars senior softball team is prepping for its appearance in the upcoming Huntsman Senior World Games by participating in a Fountain Hills slowpitch league.

The World Games, which have been held since 1987 in more than 15 sports, will be staged Oct. 9 through 13 in St. George, Utah, according to Cougars manager and player, Abe Yamada.

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Abe Yamada is a coach and manager on the Payson Cougars softball team.

Although the summer senior league is based in Fountain Hills, about one half of the games are played at Rumsey Park.

"When the heat is too tough down there, we move the games up here," Yamada said. "We usually play Wednesday mornings on the Rumsey II field."

The Cougars, formerly known as the Payson Grays and the Panthers, sport a roster of 23 players who are 60 and older.

The team's affiliation with the Fountain Hills league dates back to 1999 when the Cougars first began playing games at both FH fields and at Rumsey.

Some of the original seniors from the Grays continue to play for the Cougars, including Walt Knasick, Neil Macvicar, Tom Neblett, Dusty Wright and Fran Doering.

In 2000, the Payson senior team probably enjoyed its finest moments when it compiled a 11-5 record and won the Apache Junction 55-years-and-older senior league championship.

The Cougars' origins go back more than two decades to when the seniors competed in the Town of Payson men's league against much younger players than those on the senior roster.

The team absorbed some beatings in the early years, but continued to attract more and more players into its fold.

In 2000, a senior team was formed to compete in the Valley area. At the time, some of the Grays players expressed their desires to change the team name to Panthers.

The reason for the new moniker, coach Ron Maksymowski said at the time, was because "some of the players said they just weren't that old to be called ‘gray.'"

Later, the Panthers moniker was dropped and the team was renamed the Cougars.

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