Payson High School wrestling coach Casey Woodall is putting countless hours into building the school’s wrestling team into one of the finest in Arizona.
To accomplish that goal, he’s started from the ground up by attracting younger athletes with an interest in the sport.
But Woodall also knows that to be successful, he must also offer an off-season program in which to train high school athletes.
His efforts to build a mat dynasty include founding the Payson Junior Wrestling Club, which meets 6 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday in Wilson Dome.
“All ages, 5-years and up are welcome free of charge,” Woodall said. “We just ask that parents of the little ones (7-years-and under) stay during practice.”
At the most recent practice, more than 40 aspiring wrestlers participated making it one of the most successful off-season programs on the local sports scene.
“The project is definitely growing,” said Woodall.
In addition to practices, Woodall and his assistants are in the process of scheduling several tournaments.
“We have coordinated with several White Mountain communities and have tournaments we plan to run through the summer,” said Woodall.
The coach says his goal in hosting the program is “to get kids to fall in love with a sport that will help teach them life lessons and build character throughout their lives.”
Youth shoe exchange
Larry Kennedy and his wife Joyce came up last year with a unique idea that benefited our town’s young baseball and soccer players. This year, they’re continuing with the program.
Their plan involves a “Shoe Exchange Program” in connection with the Payson United Methodist Church. In the program, young athletes who have outgrown their baseball and soccer shoes can take them to be reconditioned and later passed on to others who they might fit.
Kennedy asks that at the end of the baseball and soccer programs, parents or players take their used shoes to mobile exchange stations that will periodically be set up near Rumsey Park field. Or they can drop the sports shoes off at Payson United Methodist Church located directly behind Ace Hardware.
The Kennedys and other church volunteers will clean, disinfect and stock the donated shoes and later distribute them to those in need.
“We hope access to the shoes free of charge will allow all those who desire to participate in these activities, do so,” said Kennedy.
For now, the program is being limited to baseball and soccer shoes, but if successful, could expand to other sports.
For more information, call the Kennedys at (928) 468-8887 or (928) 978-1882.