The No. 52 will never be worn again by a Puyallup Vikings boys basketball player.
Damon Huard, a 1991 Puyallup High School graduate who enjoyed a 13-year career in the National Football League that included two Super Bowl rings, returned to the gymnasium where he dominated during his high school days this past Friday night.
Family members, friends, coaches and community members didn’t miss out on seeing Huard get his high school basketball jersey retired at halftime of the Vikings’ contest against the Federal Way Eagles.
It was the first boys basketball jersey to be retired in school history.
Huard is Puyallup’s all-time scoring leader with 1,589 points. During the 1990-91 season, he averaged 25.8 points for a team that won the West Central District championship. The Vikings finished sixth at the state basketball tournament when Huard was a sophomore in 1988-89.
Huard recalled those days with fond memories.
“Individual records are great, but it’s the team accomplishments that you remember the most,” he said. “My sophomore year, going to the state tournament, and my senior year, winning at West Central Districts, were some great times.
“We had a lot of victories and a lot of good guys. We had two great point guards in Brandon Bakke and Rico Ancheta. I always got great passes from those guys which made for easy buckets.”
Huard said being back in the old gym took him back in time.
“I just remember the fun of high school basketball,” he said. “Football, for me, especially by the time I was a senior, was fun, but it was stressful with all of the recruiting, and your dad’s (Mike Huard) the coach.
“In basketball, I just kind of had an opportunity to just come out here and let it go and just release, have fun and play the game. I just remember running out of this locker room and onto the floor with the band playing. Fast forward 20 years later, and nothing in this gym has changed. That is really cool.”
The Puyallup High School gym is a place where Huard had the opportunity to perfect his football and basketball skills, even on days when school wasn’t in session during the late 1980s and early 1990s.
“My dad had a key to the gym, so every summer and every winter weekend, when there was nothing going on, he would open the gym,” Huard said. “We would come down here and shoot hoops and throw the football around.
“When I think of this gym, I think of a place where I honed a lot of my skills. It is a really important place to me.”
Bakke, who played college basketball at Fresno State, was Huard’s teammate after he moved to Puyallup for his senior year during the 1990-91 season.
“Being a teammate of his, I can definitely speak to how amazing of a basketball player he was,” Bakke said of Huard. “A lot of people don’t realize that. They think of football, and for good reason, but what he accomplished on the basketball court is second to none.
“We had a pretty good player here a few years ago named Jay Balmer,” Bakke added. “He is the second all-time leading scorer, and he is close to 400 points behind Damon, which puts into perspective just how good Damon was.”
Bakke said Huard greeted him with open arms the summer before their senior year.
“We were only teammates for one year, but we really connected,” Bakke said. “I was going to play college basketball, and Damon was going to play college football. We spent six or seven hours a day, all summer, preparing for the season. He really committed to basketball more than he ever had. We had a deal where I would work out with him and catch footballs if he would come and shoot hoops with me. That was our relationship my senior year.”