More than just a jersey number


Image used with permission from Dominic Sianez

Libero senior Grace Min celebrates a point against the Fullerton Tribe on Sept. 29, 2022, while wearing No. 12 jersey in the Fullerton Union High School gym.

Basketball great Michael Jordan wore No. 23 as a tribute to his older brother.

Four-time NBA champion Stephen Curry carries No. 30 to honor his father, who also played in the NBA.

Angels baseball center fielder Mike Trout sports No. 27 because he believes it’s his “lucky number.”

These professional athletes have made their mark in their respective sports, and the numbers they designated for themselves at the start of their careers remain embedded in fans’ minds.

When I started playing volleyball at age 13, I decided upon No. 12 because my birthday is Dec. 12 — 12/12.

This two-digit number has been my favorite since I can remember, and it holds even more sentimental value now that I use it in my sport. 

As a three-year volleyball starter, I represented myself with the No. 12 in all my years on the team. My coach gave priority number selection to those who were on varsity the longest and, luckily, no one else wanted 12 when I joined during my sophomore year.

Although I don’t hold a superstition about whether I perform better while wearing my preferred number, playing with No. 12 on my back gives me the boost of confidence I need on game days.

Even though I wore No. 12 on my high school team, club volleyball was a different story. In 2020, I was forced to sport No. 11. Two years later I wore No. 6 because the club did not let me choose my own number. 

However, during the years I did not carry the usual one-two on my back, I would like to say I still performed at the advanced level I am accustomed to. 

Since athletes are often remembered by their jersey numbers, I feel that other players, including me, like to wear digits that have a deeper meaning to us.

For example, when I talk about other athletes, I often remember them by what’s on their jerseys. My teammates and I would exchange comments like, “No. 8 has a really good serve,” or “No. 22 never comes off the court.” 

I knew that other players, likewise, would probably talk and remember me using my number, 12. 

As a senior, that figure always brought me a sense of pride, especially when my team won big matches like against Troy. I have not heard of any jersey numbers that have been retired at Sunny Hills, but I don’t think that’s something I would want athletic officials to do with 12.

After I graduate and the new girls volleyball season starts this fall, I also don’t want to take away another player’s opportunity to represent the No. 12 if that happens to be her favorite number, too. 

I enjoy being a role model for younger players in the girls volleyball program, and if they want to wear No. 12 because of me, I would consider that a great honor.