Thanks to the generosity of the Tonto Apache Tribe, the Payson High School track and field team traveled May 12 to the searing Phoenix heat in air-conditioned luxury.
For the trip to Mesa High School, where the state finals were held, the tribe rented a state-of-the art charter bus for the team's travel.
Having the bus, which came equipped with cool air and comfortable reclining seats, was sheer opulence for coaches and members of the team.
"It's hard to put in words how much we appreciated what they did," said coach Chuck Hardt.
"It's nice to have people step up to the plate and do something for the kids."
Hardt also called the traditional yellow-school buses the team would have had to travel in, "sweat boxes" -- a lament uttered by almost every coach who has had to travel long distances in them.
Having the tribe donate the upscale busses is nothing new in the PHS extracurricular program.
Often, when teams or groups have been forced to travel long distances, such as to games in Page, when PHS was a member of the 4A Grand Canyon region, the tribe has donated travel busses.
The generosity of the Tonto Apaches has not gone unnoticed by outgoing PHS athletic director Dave Bradley.
"When the schools have needed something urgently, they have always been there to help us," he said. "We are truly grateful for that."