Football Coach’S Wife Paces Alumni To Win

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Today, the most renowned athlete in the Quinlan family is not former Longhorn basketball coach Jim Quinlan or his son, Byron, now the PHS head football coach and a former three-sport star at Payson High.

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Max Foster/Roundup

Soccer can be a rough game, as evidenced by the grimace on this Payson High School alumni player’s face as she chases down a loose ball. In the annual game, played July 23 at Rumsey Park, the alumni edged the Lady Longhorn varsity 3-2 on April Quinlan’s last-minute goal.

Rather, the athletic luminary is April Quinlan, Byron’s wife, the mother of a young son, and a representative of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona.

She’s being hailed around town for her heroics in the annual Lady Longhorn vs. PHS alumni soccer game played July 23 at Rumsey Park.

With the scored dead-knotted at 2-2 and the game clock winding down to the final few seconds, April scored on a dazzling clutch goal that gave the alumni a 3-2 win over the upstart varsity team.

“I got off a shot, it rebounded and then I got it (the goal) on a follow through kick,” said April.

As hotly contested as the game was, mostly because pride was up for grabs, April took the game in stride.

“I was just out there having a good time,” she said. “It was all fun, not like the pressure that’s on you when you are playing in high school.”

April, however, credits her strong play in the alumni game to her former PHS coach.

“When I got out there, I remembered all the things that coach (Linda) Gibson taught me,” she said.

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Max Foster/Roundup

An alumni player and her varsity counterpart battle one another for possession of the ball. Action took place in the annual varsity vs. alumni game.

April, formerly Cheek, played soccer, basketball and was a pole-vaulter on the track team during her high school years.

She graduated in 2001.

Also playing in the alumni game was Lady Longhorn second year coach Amy Wilcox, herself a former PHS soccer standout.

About 20 prospective junior varsity and varsity players turned out for the game that Wilcox is calling, “a big success — it was a lot of fun and we were able to take a first look at some of next season’s players.”

Following the match, the alumni and current players gathered in a show of camaraderie that was highlighted by a barbecue lunch.

The alumni game marked the unofficial start of the fall soccer season that continues this week with a skills and conditioning camp to be taught by Gibson.

On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, the schedule calls for two-a-day practices with the morning one immediately preceding school and the other in the late afternoon.

Full-scale practices begin after school, about 3:45 p.m., on Aug. 8.

Athletes interested in trying out for the team must have their physical exams and all paperwork turned in to the high school office before they are allowed to practice.

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