Playing for the number on back

Student athletes loyal to jersey numbers…

Danni Simms | Staff Writer

Every athlete gets a jersey, but to some athletes, the number they wear for each game has critical importance, according to senior softball player Danielle Engelman.

“I feel like the number [23] follows me everywhere in my life,” Engelman said. “I don’t know why; I just feel like everywhere I look the number 23 haunts me.”

Engelman has played on Mason’s varsity girls’ softball team since her freshmen year. Instead of playing under 23 — the number that she has had for over eight years — she plays as the number 17.

“The [school] didn’t have the number 23, so I had to pick a new number,” Engelman said. “I didn’t really have an attachment to the number 17 at all [when I got it].”

Though she doesn’t get to wear the number for the school, Engelman said she sports her number 23 during several other occasions.

“[I wear it to] everything outside of school ball, [including] summer ball and recreational leagues,” Engelman said.

According to Engelman, her family is a large part of why she feels attached to the number 23.

“When my dad played high school baseball he was number 23,” Engelman said. “Also, when my mom played soccer she was 23. [My family’s] favorite Yankee baseball player’s number is also 23, [so] we named our dog after him.”

Junior Brian Carden played on the varsity boys’ basketball team this season, and he also likes the number 23.

“I wore 23 all my life [until] this year because the [number] was not available,” Carden said. “[I used it] because my favorite basketball player is Lebron James, [and] he has that number, and [Michael] Jordan had that number also.”

Senior Colleen Raga said that she also had special reason for choosing the jersey that she wore while playing varsity volleyball for Mason during the fall season.

“Cara Baarendse, one of my really good friends, asked me to wear her number 12 jersey number this year for our varsity season,” Raga said. “Cara was a really large part of the team [last year before she graduated]; the fact that she asked me to wear her number meant a lot.”

According to Raga, she was the first person to have the number 12 jersey handed down to her, but next year the tradition will continue.

“This season, at the end of the season, I asked one of my really good friends who I’ve been playing volleyball with [to have the jersey],” Raga said. “I just kind of felt like we were really close and I really respect the way she plays.”

Junior Brenna Hallum runs track and cross country and said that she found the number that she is attached to by chance.

“I originally was going to go with 9/11, and then I realized that seemed creepy,” Hallum said. “[Since] 9/10 is close to [9/11], I went with that [freshman] year.”

After a year with the number 9/10, Hallum said that she had to switch jerseys and she chose the number 8/10 because the 10 matched with her first jersey.

Though Hallum said that she did not choose the number because of its meaning, as a result of having it through tough meets she appreciates the jersey now.

“I’ve been through a lot with the jersey which is why [I feel attached],” Hallum said.

A preference for a certain jersey number can also affect other events in an athlete’s life according to Engelman.

“[I chose] 23 as my first lottery ticket,” Engelman said. “Also, in sixth grade there was a drawing of all of the kids in the class and I was number 23. I won the drawing, and I’d never won anything in my life.”