Their voices have energized, informed and reassured UC Davis basketball home crowds for more than two decades.
Whether it’s Larry Swanson’s signature “Aaaaaggie ball!” pronouncement or Bob Kerr’s thoughtful UCD trivia challenges, this longtime duo’s stand at the microphone has added to the ambience of a night at The Pavilion.
Swanson, a former Aggie associate athlete director, has assumed triple duty over the years. In addition to doing men’s basketball, the Oregon native also can be heard at gymnastics meets and is the stadium announcer for UCD football.
Kerr, assistant vice provost for international development, is in his 26th year calling Aggie women’s action.
Through brilliant seasons, downturns, big games and playoffs, Kerr and Swanson have been front row center for most of it.
Highlights? There have been so many, both were hard-pressed to rank what they’ve seen.
“The first thing that jumps out is the win over Stanford (2005),” Swanson says. “At the end of the game, Bob Bullis — facilities manager at the time — leans over and says, ‘Larry, make an announcement that at the end of the game, we don’t want anyone to come out on to the court.’
“I made the announcement: maybe the most futile announcement I ever made because the whole stands emptied out … into a huge celebration. It was just a magic, magic moment.”
UCD had entered the game 0-4 and went on to be 8-20 — but on that one night, the Aggies beat the Cardinal, 64-58, in what was just a taste of an extraordinary UCD run.
That school year, Swanson points out, “we also beat Stanford in football, baseball and men’s soccer. We had their number.”
“This experience I’ve been privileged to have isn’t so much about the X’s and O’s as it is about the people,” Kerr adds. “It’s hard for me to say there was one magical moment.”
But he was courtside when the Aggie women went 29-3 and made the Division II Final Four. He’s seen players like now-UCD head coach Jennifer Gross, Paige Mintun and current leading scorer Sydnee Fipps matriculate through the years.
Kerr says he loves to watch the 2013-14 Aggies get stronger with each outing.
“The women’s team is absolutely an extended family. They cover each other’s back and they play to win as a team,” he explains, adding that these women couldn’t care less about individual statistics.
“It pains me, though — for one of the best shows in town — that almost nobody (is in the stands),” says the UCD trivia master.
UCD is 13-14 and stands alone in fourth place at 8-6 in the Big West Conference, yet attendance has been as low as 331.
The Aggies are on a three-game winning streak and host UC Riverside on Thursday at 7 p.m.
“To me, (this team is) not so much about any one player,” Kerr continues, “but it is about how hard they work.”
If the UCD women win their final two league games, the worst they can do is finish fourth and earn a first-round Big West postseason bye.
Meanwhile, the Aggie men have their work cut out to reach that tournament next week.
Tied for last place with UC Riverside, the UCD men (9-20, 4-10) will travel to play the Highlanders on Thursday.
Nonethelesss, Swanson says local fans have a lot to be proud of in how their Aggies have adjusted to a season of early injuries.
“I’ve seen a tremendous amount of growth from Day 1 until present time — particularly from the youngsters,” Swanson says. “At the beginning of the season, none of us expected to see (freshmen Darius Graham, Brynton Lemar and Georgi Funtarov) starting. People need to know these are very, very young people who have come together, matured and absolutely worked hard.”
Early on, the Aggie men lost inside forces J.T. Adenrele and Josh Ritchart to injury and since then have been mixing and matching lineups.
“This team has come a long, long way … built the base for the future, and I hope, for the conference championships,” Swanson continues. “I hope we make the tournament. This week has become a pretty big week.”
Kerr, who is from Marion, Ohio, and Swanson began their UCD careers on the same day, Aug. 1, 1972, in the Student Housing Department. Swanson left campus for a while when he and partners built a hotel in Santa Cruz, but Kerr stayed at UCD.
In the early 1980s, Kerr coordinated UCD’s 75th anniversary and has held several development jobs before settling into his current responsibilities.
Both say, if the administration asks, that they’ll be back for their umpteenth years at the mic next fall.
Both volunteer their time at the games.
“And we’re worth every penny,” Swanson says with a laugh.
But Kerr adds that there are perks: “We get a Diet Coke and a water at every game.”
And, apparently, pocketfuls of priceless memories.
Notes: Swanson and his bride Barbara have been married for 45 years; Kerr and Cathy for 49. … “I don’t plan what I say. I say what I see,” Kerr told The Enterprise. “Every Senior Night I’m moved almost to tears because I’ve gotten to know players and their parents.” … Swanson is an Oregon State graduate and Kerr got his bachelor’s degree at Capital University (Ohio), later earning a doctorate. … When Kerr is at the mic for women’s games, fans will see Swanson in the stands taking in the action. When the men are playing, Kerr never misses a chance to be a home spectator, sitting with family and friends under the northwest message board. They call it Aggie Pride.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at [email protected] or 530-320-4456.