One Man Who Should Never Be Left Out

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In penning a Sept. 1 sports story about a sports medicine team at Payson High School, I inadvertently left out the name of a physician who has been on the Longhorn sidelines for almost 20 years.

That clumsy oversight is compounded by the fact Dr. John Vandruff is our family physician and I'm one of the former Payson High School coaches who helped coax him into becoming the football team's doctor.

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Dr. John Vandruff has long been a fixture on the PHS sidelines.

Through the years, Dr. Vandruff has spent hundreds of volunteer hours each Friday night looking after the welfare of young athletes.

He also cares for many of them in his office and has donated his time helping perform annual physicals exams to middle and high school athletes.

His, and the other medical staff's presence on the sidelines, allows coaches to concentrate on their jobs and leave the medical diagnosis and treatment to professionals.

Dr. Vandruff has contributed a great deal to the high school sports program, but the one moment I remember most vividly was at the conclusion of the 1991 football season.

Following a bitterly cold season ending game in Show Low, during which the team and coaches stood on the sidelines thigh-deep in snow, a Longhorn player returned home with a leg injury.

His parents were out of town for the weekend so he remained in the home both Saturday and Sunday without telling anyone the pain and swelling in the leg was worsening.

He was a mentally tough kid who probably thought complaining was not something a rough and tough football player was going to do.

When the pain became too severe for him to endure, the teen contacted Dr. Vandruff.

Dr. Vandruff quickly diagnosed the injury and immediately had the player admitted to the hospital where his condition was considered critical.

I remember clearly being in the teen's hospital room when members of his church arrived to pray and deliver rites.

Dr. Vandruff performed the medical treatment needed and, in about a week, the grateful teen was up, walking and was released from the hospital.

The boy's father later attributed the recovery to the quick thinking of Dr. Vandruff.

The father also told me his son's condition was so critical there was not time to fly him to a metropolitan area hospital.

A couple of years ago, I went to a spring training baseball game with the boy, now over 30 years of age and working in the Valley.

Together, we relived that entire scary incident and what the results could have been had Dr. Vandruff not been there to treat him.

The former Longhorn attributes Dr. Vandruff with saving his life.

Dr. Vandruff has long looked after the needs of Payson High School athletes allowing parents to breathe a sigh of relief that their children will be well cared for.

Gearing up for a challenge

Profits from the upcoming Rim Country Challenge will help the Payson Area Habitat for Humanity meet its goal of providing "decent, affordable and healthy housing for low-to-moderate income residents who are unable to obtain conventional financing."

Currently, PAHH is building its 13th home in the Rim Country.

The Rim Country Challenge, which includes a half-marathon, 5K and young athletes fun run, will be held Oct. 28 on Payson streets.

The half-marathon and 5K-start line will be on the east side of Beeline Highway near the Mazatzal casino which is a main sponsor of the event.

The half-marathon course will be just what the event title says -- a "challenge" mostly because it contains about a half mile climb up Airport Hill.

That climb is widely considered among Rim Country runners as one of the most rugged and demanding in Payson.

Former Payson High School wrestling coach and teacher Dennis Pirch used the hill run as a conditioning tool for his athletes and students.

Event organizers warn, "The course is not flat and fast. So, don't expect to set any speed records."

The 5K course is also a challenge mostly because it contains a climb up McLane Street.

The remainder of both the half-marathon and 5K course wind through scenic area of Payson.

The event is USATF certified and sanctioned and timing chips will be used for the first time in a Payson race.

The small chips are attached to the runner's shoelaces and are activated when the entrant passes through both the start and finish line.

Entry fee into the half-marathon, if paid before the Oct. 22 deadline, is $40. After than it is $60.

Entry fee for the 5K is $20 before the deadline and $30 afterward.

Young athletes Fun Run entry is $10 before the deadline and $15 for late registration.

Entry forms are available at the Payson Athletic Club or the Payson Parks and Recreation Department at Green Valley Park.

For more information, visit www.rimcountrychallenge.com.

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