Understanding the role the Mogollon Sporting Association plays in our town is probably done best by those who have been on the receiving end the group’s benevolence.
I count myself as one among the throngs the MSA has stepped up to help in a time of need.
In the summer of 1997 I agreed to coach the Rim Country Middle School Maverick eighth-grade football team.
Prior to the onset of the season, I inventoried the team’s equipment and found most all of it to be woefully inadequate and unsafe.
Most of the pads, helmets and uniforms were ragtag hand-me-downs from the high school and Pop Warner-type youth league equipment worn by 70- and 80-pound 9-year-olds.
The team I was going to coach that season was probably the most athletically talented group to go through the school. Maybe even better than the 1994 RCMS group I had coached earlier. Those players went on to form the nucleus of Payson High School’s 1998 undefeated state championship team.
The athletes on the 1997 Maverick team were simply too fast, big, strong and mature to be safely playing in youth league and mostly rejected equipment.
Also our coaching staff wanted the team to have new uniforms to express the pride we hoped they’d have in themselves.
Knowing it was fruitless to ask the school district for the large sum it would take to properly outfit the team, we turned to the Mogollon Sporting Association.
About a month after I sent in my request, it was granted.
What happened next was a football-shopping trip like I’d never experienced before, even as head varsity coach at Show Low and Payson High Schools.
Without nary an administrator looking over my shoulder, I was able to purchase top-grade equipment that ensured the players would enjoy maximum and safe protection.
We also had enough money to purchase new uniforms that were the envy of the White Mountain League.
My wife said that during my shopping trip, I was like a kid in a toy store at Christmas.
What resulted from MSA’s generosity is that a group of kids were able to play football that season in a manner that kept them properly protected and safe.
They also went undefeated and won the White Mountain League championship.
The story of the 1997 RCMS football team is only one of hundreds concerning MSA’s mission in the Rim Country.
Simply put, it would be difficult to find a coach or youth group leader who has not approached the MSA for financial help in moments of need.
Banquet set for May 2
In order for the MSA to continue doing the fine work it has done since its inception 17 years ago, the group needs the support of townspeople at its annual fund-raising banquet.
This year, it will be held May 2 at the Mazatzal Casino. Doors open for a no-host cocktail hour at 5 p.m. A prime rib dinner, auction and raffles follow.
Over the years, the evening has developed a reputation as being one of the most festive on the Rim Country social scene.
Tickets are $75 each and those who purchase before April 1 will be entered in an early bird drawing for a chance to win a Savage 93R17BTVS-17HMR rifle.
MSA members Jack Koon and Ted Pettet say the banquet will feature many quality prizes, raffle and auction items, especially firearms.
The evening is a chance to take home some very nice prizes, enjoy good, old-fashioned hometown camaraderie and at the same time help out a very worthwhile cause.
Tickets are available from any MSA member or by calling Jack Koon at (928) 474-1662.