A testament to the respect Don Heizer has garnered over the years as a tournament director surfaced last week when Payson High was asked to host the first ever Division III, Section II wrestling tournament.
“They (state wrestling officials) asked if we could host it, but then (qualified it with), ‘Don has to be the go-to guy,’” said PHS athletic director Rob Varner.
Heizer, also a school counselor and former wrestling and football coach, has been hosting wrestling tournaments at PHS and around Arizona for almost 25 years.
He also ran tournaments in Colorado where he was once the state’s wrestling coach of the year.
Over the years, he has piled up copious amounts of experience that bodes well for running small six-team or much larger 20-plus team tournaments.
The wrestling tournaments he’s overseen include the Tim Van Horn Memorial, Rim Country Duals, Payson Invitational, East regional championships and even state championships.
He’s successfully handled scheduling, the compiling of statistics and has played a role in marketing and participant recognition.
Those who know Don recognize he has outstanding communication skills, which he uses to resolve conflicts, conduct coaches meetings and to make presentations.
Most importantly about Don, he creates an environment for positive staff morale and productivity.
His efforts over the years have earned him the respect and admiration of almost every high school coach who has entered a team in one of his tournaments.
As crucial as Don is to hosting successful tournaments, he prefers to stay out of the limelight; working behind the scenes taking care of logistics and ensuring the event goes off without a hitch.
There is, however, another positive thing about having Don head a tournament that some coaches, fans, boosters and wrestlers do not know. It’s the presence of his wife, Pat, and two daughters, Lyndsey and Whitney, who almost always attend to voluntarily run scores, help out with the hospitality room, keep records and serve as good ambassadors for the sport, the program and the school.
Registration is under way for the Lil’ Longhorn Wrestling Camp set for March 1 through March 10 in the Payson High School wrestling room.
Registration ends Feb. 25, 2011.
The camp is open to aspiring wrestlers in third- through eighth-grades and the fee is $30 per camper.
All sessions will be held beginning at 4 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
The camp is traditionally run by the head coach, which this year is Casey Woodall, and a cadre of Longhorn varsity wrestlers.
The curriculum can include the seven basic wrestling skills including stance, motion, level change, penetration step, back-step, back-arch and lift. The curriculum can also include go behinds, par terre defense, balance drills, set-ups, gymnastics, tripod position, reverse lifts, sprints, sprawls, jogging and neck exercises.
Tactics, strategy and sportsmanship are usually covered.
Over the years the camp has proven to be a training ground for some of the high school’s finest wrestlers.
Call Trevor LaHaye at (928) 474-5242, ext. 260 for more information.