NOTE: This is part of a series of biographies on the Kitsap Athletic Roundtable Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2017 inductees. The HOF Banquet is Saturday, Jan. 27, at Kiana Lodge in Suquamish. Social hour begins at noon with the ceremony starting at 1:30 p.m. Tickets are available by reservation at kitsapathleticroundtable.org. Biographies were written by members of the HOF Committee.
Richard Arena was one of the most outstanding all-around athletes of his era.
The 1973 East Bremerton High grad is best remembered for his game-winning shot that gave the Knights a 54-52 victory over Timberline in the Class AA state championship basketball game his senior season.
Arena was an all-tournament selection the year before when East placed second. During the title run, he led the Knights in scoring (14.9 points) and was named MVP of the state tournament after averaging 20 points in four games.
Coach Les Eathorne called him East’s “designated hero” because of Arena’s propensity for coming up big in clutch situations. In track and field, Arena competed in the high hurdles and triple jump, where he set a school record.
Basketball was his first love at East, but he knew that football was his calling. He was a tight end and safety, and he signed a letter of intent to play at Washington State. Arena was also recruited by Oregon State and he took a recruiting trip to Colorado State, but ultimately wound up signing with the University of Puget Sound, where he studied business and played basketball two years before concentrating on football.
Arena played four years of varsity football and was a three-year starter at tight end — catching 79 passes for 731 yards and eight touchdowns. He earned honorable mention All-Northwest League honors for the Loggers. Arena was one of just two freshmen to make the traveling squad in 1973. After two years with the Pierce County Bengals, the top semi-pro team of the era, Arena showed enough potential to earn a tryout with the Seahawks.
Arena recently retired after 31 years with the Central Kitsap School District. He was a teacher and coach, and later a vice principal at Olympic High. He was also a long-time principal of the alternative school and served as the career and technical educational director and district athletic director.
Arena and his wife, Christi, have two sons, Alex and Nick.