Payson has long been fortunate in that many volunteers have stepped up over the years to spearhead the local Little League baseball program.
Ted Pettet and Ronnie McDaniel founded, coached and administered the program that has grown in both size and stature.
Unfortunately, the long hours often take their toll and volunteers must turn over leadership reins to others with interest, and usually children, in the national baseball program.
Among those who's been actively involved the past several seasons in keeping the Payson program among the finest in small town Arizona is Craig McMullen.
Although he holds down more than a full-time job with Arizona Game and Fish, he's always found time to volunteer, often as a coach, to Little League.
He and others have been instrumental in leading local Little League teams to three trips to the state tournaments and to several area and districts' titles.
Because of his interest in providing a quality athletic and maturing experience for the Rim Country's young people, McMullen is urging the public to turn out for Payson Little League's first meet of the season. It will be held at 6 p.m. Dec. 6 in the Payson Elementary School cafeteria.
"The Little League needs your help ... it is run entirely by volunteers," McMullen said. "The meeting is open to the public, and it will be to install board members for the 2008 season."
McMullen lauds Little League as a sport that teaches "discipline, sportsmanship, spirit of competition, companionship and team work to its participants.
"Please come join the board to help provide an experience for you children that will last a lifetime," he said.
After 41 years of coaching football, three at Payson High School, Dan Dunn is hanging up his whistle.
The former Longhorn coach, now the head coach at Mesa Community College, announced his retirement Dec. 1, following the Thunderbirds 47-31 win over Fort Scott, Kansas in the 2007 Valley of the Sun Bowl.
Following the Mesa victory, the players -- including ex-Longhorn Kevin Allen -- carried Dunn out of the stadium on their shoulders.
Five gears ago, while doing some repairs on his summer cabin-home outside of Payson, Dunn said he was taking the football game at MCC "to try and turn this thing around."
Although rebuilding the program might have taken Dunn a little longer than he originally anticipated, he led the T-Birds the past season to 9-2 record and a No. 8 NJCAA ranking.
Dunn has not yet thought through what he will do now that coaching football won't consume the majority of his waking hours.
"I just know 41 years is enough," he said.
At the conclusion of the regular season, Dunn was named the NJCAA Region 1 Coach of the Year.
Carlen a state leader
Payson High School player David Carlen's 149 tackles last season was the fifth-best mark in the state for all classes, 1A to 5A.
For Payson, Carlen played middle linebacker.
The state's tackling leader, Travis Trickey of Round Valley, finished with 174.
Another of the players the Horns faced the past season, Chino Valley's Garrett Worster, of Chino Valley, was second in the state in tackles, with 167.