The boys’ varsity basketball team and two swimmers (sophomore Amalie Fackenthal and Claire Pinson, ’15) made school history last year when they became section champions.
Along with the championships, the teams also won championship rings.
Although winning sections is not uncommon at Country Day, especially for the boys’ soccer team (which has won championships three times), last year’s victories were special because they were firsts for both teams.
“(The boys’ basketball team) had never even won a league title before, so that’s what made this victory so historic,” said Matt Vargo, athletic director and Sports Boosters board member.
The boys’ overall record was 27-5. After winning sections, the boys went on to play in the CIF state championships, where they beat the California School of the Deaf, 70-60, before losing in the second game, 48-53, to Paradise Adventist Academy.
The swim team was in the same position before Fackenthal finished first in the 50-meter freestyle and Pinson won the 200-meter freestyle.
“That was the first time the (swim) team had ever won anything,” Fackenthal said.
In accordance with tradition, the boys’ team and the two swimmers received customized rings.
The rings were ordered from Jostens, a company that manufactures class rings for high schools and championship rings for sports, including the Super Bowl rings, according to Vargo.
The boys’ team came in and helped design their own rings, Vargo said.
The gold-colored rings were popular with the team because every ring had the player’s last name and number on one side, and “SCDS” and the team’s record (27-5) on the other. The rings were topped with red glass with gold and black “C”s and “D”s in the middle.
The players’ nicknames were also engraved on the inside of the bands. For instance, Lally’s said “Yuba,” junior Adam Dean’s said “Eagle” and senior Serajh Esmail’s said “Raja.”
“I definitely appreciated that the rings were customized,” said senior Jag Lally, a three-year veteran of the varsity team.
Senior Brad Petchauer, a four-year veteran, agrees.
“It makes them feel like more than just some piece of hardware the team shares,” he said.
“Having your own means a lot.”
The Sports Boosters, who paid for the rings, allowed the boys to personalize them because the tailored rings cost the same as the basic ones, Vargo said.
Since each ring cost around $200, the Sports Boosters paid about $2,800 for the 12 varsity boys and two swimmers. The boys’ three coaches (David Ancrum, Gary Brisco and David Follette), paid for the majority of their rings, Vargo said.
In the past, the teams who have won rings were asked by the Sports Boosters to work off the cost. For instance, when the boys’ soccer team won the section championships two
years ago, the team worked at the snack bar for the middle-school basketball games on Saturdays.
Snack-bar coordinator Robin Judd said that the boys made a profit of around $150 per shift (two per Saturday), which meant that they didn’t really cover the cost of their own rings with their service.
“However, that wasn’t really the point of asking them to work,” she said.
“It was about the sacrifice and contribution.”
This year, however, the Sports Boosters decided that the team members wouldn’t have to work because of the groundbreaking nature of the wins, Vargo said.
Petchauer, who was on the winning soccer team, wasn’t against working again.
“Honestly, the snack bar was no big deal,” he said.
“It was just a couple of hours, and you got to watch a (middle-school basketball) game.”
Lally, on the other hand, said that since the basketball team was so talented and successful, it helped bring more people into the gym, allowing the Sports Boosters to make more money from admissions and the snack bar.
“All of that money helped them to pay for the rings, the new bleachers (that will be installed before Dec. 11) and the new courts in the gym,” Lally said.
Kathy Ketchum, the board’s accountant, agrees.
“Since more fans came out to watch the games, it contributed to more SCDS families joining the Sports Boosters,” she said.
Ketchum also isn’t concerned about paying for the rings.
“When the Sports Boosters approved paying for the championship rings last spring, we earmarked the funds to pay for them,” Ketchum said.
Although Vargo agrees that the boys’ talent helped raise more money for the Boosters, their projects and the rings, he doesn’t think that they are the sole reason for the Boosters’ success last year.
The Boosters also worked hard at increasing their memberships, which resulted in the memberships doubling.
“The snack bar was also really well coordinated, so there was more revenue at the gate and at the snack bar,” Vargo said.