Tournament Honors Former Payson Resident

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The Gracie Haught Classic softball tournament held March 22-23 in Payson was played in honor of former Winslow High School teacher and coach Becky Barris who was killed in an auto accident.

Classic tournament director Charlene Brown chose “Do what you do best” as the tournament slogan because it was a motto Becky selected for her WHS softball teams.

While at a tournament game on Saturday, I was surprised to learn that Becky and her family had at one time lived in Payson, but later moved to Winslow.

That caught my curiosity because I was raised in Winslow and graduated from Winslow High School.

I, however, could not recall Becky or her family.

So, I e-mailed a childhood friend, Art Griffith, who also graduated from WHS. Art eventually returned to Winslow to teach and coach baseball and football.

After about 40-plus years at WHS, he’s become a legend in the school and town.

In my e-mail, I asked Art to tell me more about Becky. He responded that I knew her mother and uncle from the days I lived in Winslow.

He also shared his memories of her:

“Becky was one of my all-time favorite students and I loved working with her and being a mentor for her as she got into the softball game as a coach. We had coffee together every day since she started teaching and I still can’t believe she is gone.

“She lived in Payson until she was about 9 years old, I think, and then they moved here (Winslow). She played volleyball, basketball and softball — was on state championship teams in basketball and softball.

“She coached with Petro (Don Petronovich) for years — worked at Valley National Bank and then came to the high school as a teacher. She coached volleyball and basketball in the high school and junior high and later softball. She won 12 (softball) region championships in a row, two state runners-up and one state title — her record was 302-60.

“She taught business classes and was very active in summer youth programs and had just started a swim team for the city.

Her husband was Bill Barris; daughter Briana Conatser, 24; son Bryce, 15; and daughter Brenley, 7.

“This was one of the most tragic accidents in our town and school that I can remember. She was a great young lady who was involved in everything in town and school, the funeral was huge”

Foundation to host Casino Day

The Justice McNeeley Foundation’s main fund-raiser is the annual quad and motorcycle poker run held near Pine and Strawberry. Last year, however, the foundation decided to hold another fund-raiser to help meet increased demands of helping out children in need.

Organizers decided on a “Casino Day” and because it was a success, they decided to host the second annual event from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday, April 21 at Sidewinders Saloon in Pine.

The entry donation is $15 per person with additional buy-ins, or donations, available for purchase.

Games will include blackjack, roulette, craps and Texas Hold ’em.

Town sports program

Registration is taking place now through April 15 for the town’s Adult Spring Co-ed Softball League. The season begins April 22. Recreation and competitive divisions will be offered as long as a minimum of four teams sign up for each division.

All participants must be at least 16. The fee is $275 and includes the ASA registration fee.

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