Retired jerseys continue to inspire students

February 1, 2017 — by Angela Liu and Julia Miller

In the history of SHS sports, two jerseys worn by past players have been retired: a white-on-red football jersey emblazoned with the number 82 and a red-on-white basketball one with the number 21 worn by Randy Arrillaga and the Jeff Swanberg respectively.

Most students who pass through the main entrance of the Large Gym, whether they’re basketball players fighting to win a game or school-spirited students decked out in their class’s colors for  a rally, may not notice the two framed jerseys — a white-on-red football jersey emblazoned with the number 82 and a red-on-white basketball one with the number 21 — hanging on the back wall, let alone know whom those jerseys could have belonged to.

In the history of SHS sports, two jerseys worn by past players have been retired: those of Randy Arrillaga and the late Jeff Swanberg.

According to assistant principal Brian Safine, the boys whose jerseys are retired were “former SHS student-athletes with remarkable accomplishments on the court and remarkable life stories off it.”

Arrillaga, who wore number 82 on the SHS basketball team, graduated with the class of 1979 and holds the title of seventh leading scorer in CCS high school basketball history with a career total of 1,948 points. Had it not been for the absence of the three point line, according to history teacher and basketball coach Mike Davey, Arrillaga may have ranked much higher.

After high school, Arrillaga graduated from UCLA with a Bachelor’s degree in political science and now works as a managing director at DTZ, a local real estate firm. Davey honors his success whenever Arrillaga comes to the SHS basketball alumni game.

“I always take the players over and introduce Arrillaga to them and explain who he is,” Davey said.

The retired football jersey honors Jeff Swanberg, who is remembered for being the dedicated captain of both the football and basketball teams during his years in high school. Former assistant principal Karen Hyde recalls that he was also a top student with a 4.4 GPA and had been admitted to the U.S. Naval Academy. However, on Jan. 13, 2001 — just halfway through his senior year —  Swanberg passed away in a car accident coming back from a trip to Southern California.

Guidance counselor Eileen Allen, then a senior as well, remembers him as a “super smart and witty” friend.

“Jeff was a very hard working student, as well as a dedicated athlete,” Allen said. “He was known for having great sportsmanship and heart, which is likely why they decided to retire his jersey number.”

Swanberg also happened to be one of Davey’s students. “Senator Swanberg,” as Davey once called him for his prediction that Swanberg would be a senator someday, was very passionate in history class and loved to debate about politics with teachers.  According to Davey, “he was one of those students you grow attached to over the years.”

“I still remember the last time he walked out of the classroom and said, ‘I’ll see you on Monday, Mr. Davey,’ and I never saw him Monday,” Davey said.

Thanks to Hyde, the two numbers were retired to remember the accomplishments of the two.

“[Back then,] Saratoga had two Halls of Fame: one that honored athletes, the other all-star former students who have continued to contribute to society,” Hyde said. “It seemed and seems fitting that extraordinary accomplishments be honored in a variety of ways.  If you have honored the jersey, regardless of sport, for four years, it seems fitting to hang that jersey in the gym.”

Although the two Halls of Fame were discontinued, the two jerseys still stand as a proud reminder of students that once made history at Saratoga. According to Allen, the jerseys can push athletes to achieve greater goals and to leave those accomplishments behind as a legacy.

“I think the jerseys are mainly a way to honor someone who exemplified what it means to be an athlete,” Allen said.  “If it makes our student athletes and coaches think about how they would want to be remembered, then yes, I would think the jerseys would be inspirational.”

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