Photo courtesy of Deborah Rothstein / AFN / 6-27-08 The Callaghan brothers from the Ahwatukee Foothills Family YMCA accounted for eight gold, two silver and a bronze medal at the annual Fulton Homes Grand Canyon State Games swimming meet earlier this month. The brothers, with their parents Paul and Wendy, are Ben, 10, Nick, 8, and Jack 6. Deborah Rothstein photo.

When temperatures go over 100 degrees in June, Arizona amateur athletes are only warming up for the annual Grand Canyon State Summer Games.

Patterned after the international Olympic Games and sanctioned by the U.S. Olympic Committee through the National Congress of State Games, the summer games take amateur athletics out of the backyards and parks and showcase them in large and small arenas.

If it seems like the International Olympic Committee comes up with some strange events in the name of sports at the winter and summer games, consider tournaments this month in the bean bag toss, dodgeball and Whiffleball.

Of course there are more standard forms of competition in arm wrestling, badminton, baseball, basketball, softball, baton twirling, BMX bicycle racing, bowling, diving, four-on-four flag football and golf.

More traditional events include gymnastics, judo, karate, racquetball, shooting, swimming, squash, synchronized swimming and table tennis.

Spread around various venues in the Phoenix area are tennis, track and field, beach volleyball, weightlifting and wrestling.

Some of the games have already taken place, but a bulk of the competition begins in a few days and entries for most events are due this Saturday, June 5.

Registration can be made through the Games website at or registration forms are available at U.S. Bank branches, Sleep America stores, Keller Williams Realty offices or Mountainside Fitness locations.

The Games had taken place for two years before they were resurrected from a certain death, not to mention an $18,000 debt, in 1994 by Ahwatukee Foothills resident Eric Widmark.

A former National Football League player, administrator, coach and father of three Mountain Pointe High School students, Widmark revisited his professional sports experience and set out to run the Games like it was an NFL franchise.

The Games not only survived, they grew and Widmark said the Grand Canyon Games had more athletes involved in Arizona than the Olympic Summer Games drew to China two years ago.

The organization also puts on the annual Lori Piestewa National Native American Games, the Grand Canyon State Winter Games and a national essay contest that includes categories from kindergarten through adults. An art contest for kindergarten through adults is another non-athletic function of the organization.

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