What better way to open a new basketball season than with new uniforms?

Both the Payson High varsity boys and girls teams are sporting much-needed new duds this year.

The Mogollon Sporting Association contributed most of the approximately $3,700 cost for the boys uniforms. And the Kevin Dick Investment Management Group contributed the rest of the money for the uniforms and also helped buy 10 new basketballs for the team.

“These two organizations have a long tradition of helping the youth of our community and we are so grateful to them for helping us buy these much-needed uniforms,” said boys basketball varsity assistant coach Cameron Davis. “Without this generous contribution we would still be wearing 8-year-old uniforms that were stained and torn. The program was able to buy three sets of new uniforms that we hope will last for the next five years.”

The new unis instilled a renewed sense of pride in the players.

“I received a call from one of the moms who said that her son went home that night and put on his uniform and stared at himself in the mirror,” Davis said. “He was very proud of how he looked.”

It may seem like a superficial thing to some, but feeling good about your uniform is an important aspect of a successful program.

“We are working very hard as a program to change the culture of how the boys basketball team is perceived in Payson,” Davis said.

“These are the little things that give these boys an edge and help them get excited about playing on the team and representing their school and their community.

“Head coach Denver White and I know we have a long way to go, but we believe we are laying the foundation to build a winning tradition for this program.

“With these types of contributions we give our kids a fighting chance to learn how to be successful in sports and apply that success to their everyday lives once they graduate.”

Contributing funds for the uniforms was an easy decision for the MSA, according to MSA president Jim Goughnour.

“Not only did Cameron come to the MSA (to speak about the need for new uniforms), but he brought three of his players,” Goughnour said. “It was inspirational to hear these young men tell you why these basketball uniforms are important to them. That really makes a lot of difference when they stand up in front of a group like that and tell us why they need them and what it’s going to mean to the team. I was sold as soon as I heard those young men tell me what they needed.”

They brought along the uniforms they were going to wear if they hadn’t been able to buy new ones.

“I wouldn’t use them to wash my car with,” Goughnour said with a laugh.

Over the years, the MSA has donated more than $1 million to help youth and wildlife.

“This is what the MSA’s about,” Goughnour said. “We help our community. So this was right in our sweet spot to help the basketball team out.”

The girls team used money raised from its annual Christmas tournament sponsored by the Central Arizona Board of Realtors, as well as funds from the FAN Club, which come primarily from the Sportsman Raffle, to buy its uniforms.

“The girls program was very much in need of these new jerseys and I felt it took priority in terms of how our funds should be allocated,” said girls basketball varsity head coach Miles Huff. “We purchased a home and away set for varsity. We had purchased two new sets last year for varsity and JV and those sets were pushed down and are now the jerseys being used by the lower levels.

“Before last year, the girls program had not purchased new jerseys in seven-plus years. My plan is to have the entire program in the same jerseys by next year.”