A new tradition linking the town, fans and the Lady Longhorn volleyball team could be just over the horizon.
It involves a first-ever PHS vs. alumni volleyball game and a benefit steak dinner all in the same evening.
The festivities are the work of Lady Horn coach Arnold Stonebrink who says he hopes the evening turns fun and enjoyable for all involved including "the average Joe whose never seen a volleyball game."
The activities are on the school calendar for Aug. 1 at Wilson Dome.
The dinner kicks off at 5 p.m. and will be followed by the volleyball tournament at 7 p.m. The meal menu will include steak, beans, salad and rolls. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for children 10-years-and-younger.
"The price is very affordable and the dinner is available to anyone, whether you are alumni, friends or family," Stonebrink said.
Following the meal, the volleyball tournament will begin inside the dome.
"It will be open to anyone who has ever played varsity volleyball for Payson," Stonebrink said. "I will also enter a ‘varsity' team."
The formation of that team, however, had some Arizona Interscholastic Association restrictions laid on it.
"Originally, we wanted to wait until after tryouts (Aug. 4-6) before we held the tournament, but we found out the AIA would consider it a scrimmage if we did that."
Since AIA rules allow only one scrimmage per season and the Lady Horns have one scheduled for Aug. 21 against Camp Verde, Stonebrink's plans for a post tryout alumni tournament had to be changed.
"We have to do it before tryouts and the varsity team will consist of girls who will likely make varsity and those who will vie for positions on varsity," he said.
With the AIA mandates straightened out, Stonebrink began calling alumni hoping to attract enough former players to form one graduate team to play his so-called varsity.
"As I called to gauge interest, the response was pleasantly overwhelming," he said. "So I decided to make it a tournament."
The coach now anticipates there will be at least three, and possibly four, alumni teams.
Among those former Lady Horns participating will be Haylee Huff, a three-year varsity setter who wrapped up her career in 2004, Stonebrink's first year as head coach
"I called and asked Haylee if she would be there and she said, ‘heck, yeah' and then she proceeded to start trash talking, even though there was no one yet to trash talk to."
Huff, a Grand Canyon University senior majoring in nursing, says she is stoked about the idea of playing with some of her former teammates.
"We're hoping Britney Owens, Rikki Ray, Celena DeSchaaf, Retosha Marshall and some others can come back and play," she said.
Four years ago, Huff and Marshall were senior All-Grand Canyon Region honorees for the Lady Horns.
Huff's enthusiasm over the upcoming game has convinced Stonebrink that the skirmish will be a spirited one that should provide the school and the town with links to the past.
The coach would also like all alumni to know that it's not too late to enter a team.
"If players would like to band together to form a team they can do that," he said. "Otherwise we will divide the alumni up on teams."
The teams will be formed the evening of the tournament, Stonebrink said.
He is, however, hoping the alumni can form their own squads with a central theme.
"Such as the Sommars sisters or the 2004 team," he said.
Alumni interested in participating should call Stonebrink at (928) 468-6903.
Dinner tickets may be purchased at Payson Eye Care and from assistant coach Trevor Creighton at (928) 595-1844 or Stonebrink. There is no admission to the volleyball tournament.