All those who helped stage the Class B Arizona ASA Junior Olympics Fastpitch Tournament, including Town Parks, Recreation and Tourism Director Cameron Davis, ASA State Commissioner Don Fishel, State JO Commissioner Rick Hormann and a throng of hard-working town employees, deserve huge pats on the back for making the event the overwhelming success it was.
The tournament, held last weekend, drew 52 teams and hundreds of girls and their parents from around Arizona to Payson. Most every coach, parent and player I spoke with was lavish in his or her praise of our town and the event.
About the only problem I heard was some visitors could not find hotel or motel accommodations so they commuted from the Valley, or camped out where forest restrictions allowed.
One set of parents went so far as to call upon a very distant relative who the two had not spoken to in decades to ask if they could stay in his vacation cabin in Pine.
For many, the tournament was a type of flashback to the 1980s and ’90s when Payson was a softball hot spot, hosting weekend tournaments throughout the summer thanks to the efforts to Ted Pettet, Teddy Pettet and Ray LaHaye.
For unknown reasons, but probably because those three moved on to other challenges, Payson fell by the wayside as a tournament site. The success, however, of last weekend’s state championships might be the catalyst the town needs to return to the prominence it once held in the sport.
Dan Majerle a favorite
For this scribe, last weekend’s softball tournament generated a fond memory and a few chuckles.
It centered on years ago when I was at Rumsey Park covering a softball tournament Teddy Pettet was hosting.
In the tournament was a team sponsored by then-Phoenix Suns star Dan Majerle. In fact, a watering hole he owns in downtown Phoenix sponsored the team.
When I returned home that afternoon and told my wife Kay, I had spoken with Majerle — her sports hero — she chastised me for not getting his autograph.
So, I returned to Rumsey, purchased a tournament T-shirt from Pettet and asked Majerle to autograph it.
He obliged even personalizing it with “For Kay.”
When I returned home to give her the autographed shirt, she was more ecstatic.
Which prompted me to sarcastically ask “I think you like Majerle more than me.”
Without a moment of hesitation, she replied, “Yes, but I like you more than Steve Kerr.”
High school football coaches around the state, including Byron Quinlan at Payson High, are urging their players to take advantage of a new and unique offer that will allow them free online concussion testing.
The concussion testing is now available to more than 100,000 high school athletes around the state including those participating in sports at PHS.
Baseline concussion testing is an online cognitive test that can be taken on any computer with Web access.
The Mayo testing measures how the brain is working when it is normal.
The advantage of having a baseline assessment is that it helps doctors understand when there has been a change in brain activity, which indicates a concussion.
The test also helps determine when an athlete’s brain has returned to normal and he or she can return to play.
Studies show, that when athletes continue to play after a concussion or return to action too soon, there are significant risks of suffering another concussion. Also, repeat concussions take longer to heal and there is a risk of permanent neurological damage.
The Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy (CSTE) at the Boston University School of Medicine recently began studying concussions using tissue from former NFL players who have died.
In the past, concussions had been considered “invisible injuries” because they were almost impossible to test.
But the results from the CSTE made known for first time the tremendous brain damage done by concussions.
Just days ago, CSTE research released the results of posthumous tests done on athletes who had suffered concussions during their career including former NFL player Tom McHale who died in 2008 at the age of just 45.
Results of the tests show that the damage done is extensive and not limited to superficial aspects of the brain but deep inside.
Mayo’s offer to do the testing comes on the heels of the passage of Arizona Senate Bill 1521 that requires players who have sustained a head injury to remain sidelined until given the OK to play by a licensed health care provider.
Also, the Arizona Interscholastic Association is recommending all high school athletes undergo the tests.
Quinlan says he hopes the recommendations and results now rolling in should render Longhorn football players’ decision to take advantage of the Mayo Clinic testing offer a no-brainer.
For more information, go to: http://www.mayoclinic.org/concussion-testing/