On January 24, 1983, 33 student athletes from Tempe's high schools were honored at The Spaghetti Company in downtown Tempe. With that initial banquet, the Tempe All-City Association had achieved its goal. The group and the recognition it provides has grown rapidly.

Founded in the fall of 1982 by two former Tempe High School students, the non-profit Association is a group of Tempe citizens and businesspeople dedicated to recognizing the achievements of the best student athletes at the city's six high schools. This is done primarily through three awards banquets each year, where male and female student athletes, as selected by coaches and the Association's board of directors, are treated to dinner and a speaker; then awarded a plaque and a color picture commemorating the honor.

That first banquet honored just the football and cross-country teams of the 1982/83 season. Initially, the group planned two banquets a year. But, like the city itself, the boundaries rapidly were expanded. There have been three banquets a year since 1984, and an All-City team now is selected in every sport played at the high school varsity level.

"To the kids it is the number one thing," said Don Wilkinson. Tempe Union High School District athletic director and a member of the All-City board. "I've heard our coaches say the kids take more pride in making the All-City team than any other honor. And that's mainly because most of these kids grew up together. They went to junior high together. That makes the All-City Team the number-one plum."

The Association board of about 20 people meets monthly. Members come from all sectors within the Tempe Union High School District society and most are district graduates.

"One aspect you can't compare is that back when I played, Tempe had only one school," said Royse, who played football and ran track at Tempe High School. "If you were a starter on any team, you were all-city.

"Now, with six schools and a city of 170,000 people, recognition in the community is a little harder to come by. What we had in mind when we started the All-City Association, is recognition within and around the community. That's what we are here for."

Royse, early in the fall of 1982, mentioned the idea of an All-City Association to Bill Moore (Tempe High School class of '63). The two Tempe High grads met with Paul Wolfe, publisher of the Tempe Daily News, in November of 1982 and the first banquet was a part of the Tempe sports scene two months later.

"Eight people met two or three times and put it together," Royse said. "We could not have done it without the help of the Tempe Daily News."

It is the combined efforts of the directors, each doing a little bit for each banquet, that makes the Association go.

If you talk to anyone else on the board, you'll hear the same things. Everyone has their reasons, but we all share a common goal to make sure the student athletes in the Tempe area get the credit they deserve," said Royce.