Tonight is Homecoming for Valley Christian School and prior to the football game against Sprague-Harrington, Andrew (Drew) Swank’s number is being retired - temporarily - prior to the 7 p.m. start..
Don Swank said that the No. 15 his son wore will be back on the field for four more years, beginning next season. “Coach (Jim ) Puryear talked to us several weeks ago that he’d like to retire it with the option to reserve it for Timmy to wear when Tim’s a freshman,” Don said during a press conference at the school this afternoon.
Drew Swank died from brain injury sustained in a football game Sept. 25. Prior to the press conference, the family asked for no questions regarding what they termed a freak accident.
The ceremony tonight, Don said, “is a beautiful gesture for the school and team.”
His wife, Patti, that being at the game tonight, “Will be difficult. Drew should have been on the field, but God wanted him in heaven. At the same time it will be fun, if bittersweet.”
The family said they have been “steamrolled” by the support from Montana to the Cascade Mountains and beyond. Don cited as an example the $2,400 raised and donated unsolicited by Central Valley’s football team. Liberty Christian, another Class B school from Richland in the District 9 League took up a “love offering” that netted another $3,400.
They spoke about a quiet, unassuming, shy, but caring youngster who would give roses to girls on Valentine’s Day just because. I asked what attracted him to football.
“Our dad, uncles and older brothers all played football,” said daughter, Tara. “Drew played since third grade. Not just football. We’re just a sports-loving family.”
And so tonight the No. 15 jersey will be handed to the family and another will go up upon the wall. Until Tim arrives as a freshman next year.
Afterwards I spoke with them about discussing the tragedy for a long-range project. When they feel the time is right, Don said, that conversation can take place.