The turnout at Payson's first-ever Team Sorting held March 22 at the Payson Event Center wasn't what sponsor Sandra Walker of Rafter M Performance Horses in Camp Verde was hoping for.
But that hasn't dampened her enthusiasm for the next competition to be held April 19 also at PEC.
"We have had a lot of positive feedback and inquires for future events," she said. "We were all tickled to see everyone who attended, to watch participants have such a good time and encourage people to come to the next one."
Walker also promises upcoming ones will be bigger and better.
"As Team Sorting events grow, we will be making positive changes in how we produce them," she said.
Among the changes will be the addition of novice, youth and ladies divisions as well as more sophisticated prize rewards and added money.
In the competition, the trio of Byron Haught, Jill Ridley and Felicia Daddabo won the championship of Sorting No. 1.
In Sorting No. 2, Destry Haught, Shea Nelson and Sally Wills emerged victorious.
At the conclusion of the event, Walker thanked the volunteers who helped produce the competition including Bill and Nancy Pohlman, Charlene Hunt, Jerry and Sally Wills, Donnie Haught, KMOG radio, Travis Stodghill, Elsie Aronson and Destry Haught.
For those who have never taken in a Team Sorting, Walker describes it as "a working cow horse sport featuring fast-paced action in a friendly, yet competitive, environment.
"It is an entertaining spectator sport that is fun and affordable for the whole family. Horse and rider are challenged to learn how to read and control cattle.
"This popular sport will improve your horse's performance, cow sense and overall athleticism."
Learning to play the D-backs way
Aspiring young baseball players will have the opportunity to learn the skills of the game from top-notch coaches at the Arizona Diamondbacks Training Center to be held July 7 to 11 at Rumsey Park.
Shannon Godfrey, Diamond-backs assistant for Baseball Outreach and Development, said both baseball and softball will be offered.
The camps, which are held through the week from 8 to 11 a.m., feature instruction in all aspects of baseball and fast pitch softball, including hitting, fielding, base running, pitching, strategy and sportsmanship.
Coaches usually throw in spirit contests and games to keep the camp sessions fun and interesting.
Godfrey said the purpose of training centers are to instill an enhanced self-image, increased skills, improved knowledge of the game and greater community pride in the participants.
Godfrey estimates that since the inception of the program, "over 17,000 kids have ‘learned to play the D-backs way.'"
The training centers are open to all players 6 to 18 years of age.
The fee of $150 includes 15 hours of instruction, a Diamond-backs cap and T-shirt, instructional DVD and the opportunity to attend select Diamondback home games.
All profits benefit Diamond-backs Youth Charities.
"We are excited for camp and we will be in Payson," Godfrey said.
The baseball camps usually fill to capacity, often attracting players who commute from the Valley eager to escape the searing desert heat.
The training centers have traditionally been held in Payson about the same time as Little League postseason area, district and state tournaments.
That will be the situation this summer. Which means, some of Payson's finest baseball players -- usually the Little League all-star selections -- cannot participate.
Diamondbacks Training Center coaches sent to Payson in the past say they are aware of the problem, but because the camps are offered in about 40 towns and cities around Arizona in a three-month period, the conflict would be tough to resolve.
For more information call 1-800-821-7152 or go to: dbacks.