Family and friends of Allyson Rene Randall gathered in Pine on Saturday to celebrate the life of the former Pine Elementary and Payson High School student who died Feb. 6 at 45 years of age.
As an assistant varsity and head junior varsity coach on the 1986 Lady Longhorn basketball team, I had the privilege of helping coach Rene, then a senior, who had been a two-year starter and three-year letter winner under head coach Tim Fruth.
He fondly remembers Rene as “a hard worker who hustled all the time and added life to the team.”
Although almost three decades have passed since Rene played her final year at PHS, I remember her as a gregarious athlete who seemed to enjoy the sport and was a big part of the camaraderie that every prep team must have to be successful.
Rene and her teammates were a never-say-die group who pulled off the biggest upset of the season by coming out of nowhere to win the A-West Region championship and advance to the state tournament.
Looking back, I remember the Lady Horns entered the season-ending regional tournament in Parker with a so-so record and few expectations.
In fact, there were those soothsayers in the Rim Country who predicted the Lady Horns would be one and done.
But after scratching and clawing through the early tournament rounds to a berth in the semi-finals, PHS punched its ticket to the big show on Pat Abeyta’s last-second 30-plus foot jump that nailed down a one point win over Mingus. Following that emotionally draining victory, the players could easily have entered the championship finale content with being a top two team.
But that wasn’t what they were made of.
Playing with the grit of a junkyard dog, Rene and her teammates ran roughshod over heavily favored Buckeye to win the regional crown.
At the time, the Hawks were one of the odds on favorites to claim the state championship.
A week later in Phoenix, a state tournament loss to a very talented Snowflake team ended Payson’s dreams of winning a state title.
Although that heartbreaking “L” is now a thing of the past, Rene and her fellow Lady Longhorns — as well as the jayvees that followed — are remembered, in part, as the tenacious teens who made coaching fun.
Rene is the daughter of Fred and Karen Randall.
The Pine-Strawberry School archery team traveled Feb. 22 to the Valley-area for a match held at the Ben Avery Shooting Range.
Michael Augon returned home with a second place in the junior high division scoring a remarkable 270 points out of 300.
In the elementary male division, Caleb Barlow tied for first place, but dropped a tie-breaking shoot-off to fall to second.
Raci Miranda shot her way to third in the elementary female division.
The archers return to Ben Avery Range March 15 for the Arizona State Archery Championships.
Winners there qualify for the national finals.
Also at the school, softball and track practices are under way.
Amanda Finkler, Mike Ward and Freddy Miranda are coaching the softball girls.
The track program is being headed up by coaches Margaret Johnson, Brett Wintrich and Jim Kiekintveld.
The Lady Buffs tip off the season at 3 p.m., Monday, March 3 at Oak Creek.
The team’s home games this season: April 1 vs. Beaver Creek; April 3 vs. Camp Verde; April 8 vs. Mayer; April 10 vs. Oak Creek; and April 22 vs. Clarkdale.
The track team, which does not host any meets this season, opens the campaign at 1:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 25 at Glassford Hills near Prescott.
A thought about education
“Those who can, teach; those who can’t make laws about education” might best explain the Arizona Legislature’s propensity to slash the state education budget and Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal’s recent robocalls urging parents to take advantage of a voucher system that takes money away from public schools and gives it to private schools.
Vets could anchor board
Pending approval of local voters, the next Pine Strawberry Water Improvement District (PSWID) board could be buoyed by the presence of three veteran members.
Tom Weeks, Don Smith and Sam Schwalm, all previous PSWID board members, are among the eight hopefuls who have filed nominating petitions for the seven seats up for grabs.
Newcomers Lawrence Bagshaw, Russell Brock, Richard James, Trent McNeeley and Paul Randall have also applied.
Weeks, a local businessman was first appointed to the board in June of 2008 to replace Barbara Hall who had resigned alleging improprieties in the board’s hiring of attorney John Giliege.
In winning the appointment, Weeks was chosen over Roger Sigars and Schwalm.
Smith, a longtime dentist in Pine and Payson, served a full term on the PSWID board, stepping down in 2012 when his term expired.
Schwalm was the only candidate for the board vacancy and immediately replaced Smith.
Weeks and Schwalm were the only two remaining board members when on Nov. 15, 2013 five members resigned, four of whom were facing recall. Since the two remaining members didn’t constitute a quorum, the board was disbanded and the Gila County Board of Supervisors took over governing the district.
Of the eight candidates for board positions, seven will be selected in a May 20 election.
Also on the PSWID agenda is an upcoming forensic audit that was recently authorized by the county supervisors who were obviously responding to clamor from local water users to review district finances.
In ordering the audit, the supervisors stipulated it be for the past five fiscal years.
Reportedly, the supervisors are currently in the process of finding a qualified accountant to conduct a forensic audit.
Not understanding completely what such a “forensic” audit is, I reached out to an accountant friend of mine, also a former student from my years teaching in Tempe.
He is considered an expert in this type of accounting and tells me, simply put, that the information uncovered during a forensic audit can be used as evidence in court.
Forensic audits, he explained, could be used to prosecute parties in court, to determine negligence or the amount of spousal or child support an individual must pay.
He says large police, government and insurance agencies often have specialist forensic accountants.
Celebrate Dr. Seuss
Don’t forget to pack up the children and grandchildren March 2 to 8 to visit the Isabelle Hunt Memorial Library to participate and enjoy the Read Across America celebration that honors the fabled Dr. Seuss.
During the local library’s celebration, manager Becky Waer has scheduled a number of educational activities centered on most all of the Dr. Seuss-authored books.
“Green Eggs and Ham,” “Oh, the Places You’ll Go,” “Fox in Socks,” “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and “The Cat in the Hat” are some of his best known books.
Each day of the week, children will have the opportunity to complete activity sheet which will earn them raffle tickets for drawings that have Dr. Seuss books and matching stuffed animals as prizes.
“I will probably have three to four drawings depending on the number of tickets turned in,” Waer said.
The drawings will be at 1 p.m., Saturday, March 8. Students do not need to be present to win.