Tourney Keeps Memories Alive


Most of us have our cherished memories of Jack Morris, the former Payson High School football player and coach who died Feb. 23, 2004 of complications from a stroke.

Morris was 34 at the time of his death.


Jack Morris was a popular, well-liked football coach who took special interest in offensive and defensive linemen.

Having coached Jack in high school and co-coached the Rim Country Middle School eighth-grade team with him, I have 20 years of very fond recollections.

Among them is one that occurred just months before his untimely death.

My wife, Kay, had just been released from intensive care at Payson Regional Medical Center and was recovering in our Pine home.

I heard a knock on the door, answered, and saw Jack standing alone, looking rather doleful and clutching a bouquet of flowers

In a melancholy voice, he uttered, "Is Mrs. Coach OK?"

I answered, "Sure, she's inside watching TV."

"Wow, that's great news," he said. "I went to her hospital room, and there was no one there. The bed was empty.

"The nurses told me she had gone, I thought maybe, you know, something bad had happened to her."

After a hearty belly laugh, Jack sauntered in, embraced Kay and presented the bouquet.

Our fond memories of Jack are among the reasons his memorial tournament always draws an overflow crowd of family and friends.

It's our way of paying tribute to him while helping the Payson High School football team to which he devoted so much of his life. The money earned at the tournament also funds a scholarship, in his memory, that is awarded each spring to a PHS graduate.

This year's Jack Morris Memorial tees off at 7:30 a.m. June 17 at Payson Golf Course with a shotgun start and best-ball format.

The entry fee is $85 per player, which includes green fees, cart, food and prize money.

The field is limited to the first 110 golfers who register by the June 10 deadline.

Prizes include closest-to-the-pin awards on all par-3 holes, longest drive in the fairways and a hole-in-one prize on a preselected hole.

Other prizes are being gathered by the tournament golf committee.

In addition to accepting players for the tournament, the golf committee is searching for more event sponsors.

All donations are tax deductible and a tax ID number is available.

Entry forms are available at the Payson Roundup, 708 N. Beeline Highway.

For more information, call tournament director Gary Cordell at (928) 474-4401.

At the time of his death, Morris was an assistant football coach at Payson High School and was instrumental in helping the Longhorns earn the 1998 Class 3A state championship.

His younger brothers, Cable and Josh, were starring members of that team. Jack graduated from PHS in 1987 and was a senior member of the 1986 football team that reached the state championship.

D-backs visit

The Arizona Diamondbacks will host both baseball and softball training centers July 10 to 14 at Rumsey Park.

The camps are conducted each day from 8 to 11 a.m. and are open to both boys and girls 6 to 12 years old.

This summer, more than 95 week-long camps will be held in 35 Arizona towns over a nine-week period beginning Memorial Day.

The camp fee is $150, which includes a Diamondbacks hat, T-shirt, wristbands and two tickets to a 2006 Diamondbacks home game at Bank One Ballpark.

The camp curriculum, which is endorsed by the Arizona baseball staff, is matched to the age and skill level of the campers, Smith said.

Instructors are handpicked by the organization to teach the fundamentals of hitting, fielding, throwing and base running, as well as specific position play.

Each camp day and session is highly choreographed to maximize participation and activity time. Instructors are from a group of former professional players, as well as local collegiate and high school coaches.

In previous years, the camps have not only drawn from the Rim Country, but also from young players from the Valley whose parents are eager to escape the heat with the hour-and-a-half commute.

Registration can be completed online at or by calling (800) 821-7152.

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