If there is a feel-good story at Payson High School, its starring character is Keisha Waterman.
Early this school year, the teenager turned out for the Lady Longhorn cross-country team choosing a sport she is not a "natural" in.
She took up the sport partly to help the team out, because at the time, it was in danger of not having the required five runners needed for a team score.
Keisha hasn't won any medals or set any records this season, but she has shown a determination that makes her a winner in the eyes of her teammates, teachers and coaches. Long-distance running is not easy for Keisha. She labors to finish 5K runs, but has crossed the finish line in every event she has entered.
She debuted in Payson Sept. 5 at Rumsey Park, finishing 23rd in 42:51.
At the Sludge to the Judge homecoming run, she drew cheers and words of encouragement from most spectators, who watched her run the about 2.5-mile course in 25:11. She was 52nd overall, in a field of 55 boy and girl runners.
For the Tonto Apache field team, Keisha throws the shot put and discus. At her first-ever meet, in 2005 at Glendale Community College, she won the shot put gold medal in the intermediate girls division.
Watching Keisha work to improve in cross country and seeing her will to take on a challenge certainly not easy for her, is inspirational to all who know the teen.
But as motivating as her cross-country running is, it's her engaging personality that makes Keisha a divine teen to be around.
She's quiet, respectful, courteous, well-manned and polite.
Keisha is also quick with a smile, down-home honest and most have never heard her utter a bad word about teammates, teachers or others.
In short, she possesses all the traits most any parent would want their child to be blessed with.
If a poll of teachers and administrators were taken at PHS, Keisha would rank as a favorite among all those who know her.
Most importantly, Keisha reminds us that winning -- while important -- should not be the sole mission of high school sports.
Athletics should also reward good character, integrity resolve, fortitude, respectful behavior and enthusiasm.