Inside the tradition behind Syracuse’s number-selection process

first_imgFor every player on No. 13 Syracuse’s (12-6, 3-3 Atlantic Coast) field hockey team, their jerseys have a significance from a lineage of former players.SU head coach Ange Bradley doesn’t remember exactly when the tradition began, but current players are encouraged to connect with former players who wore their preferred jersey numbers. The idea promotes unity within the team and extends a culture in which SU respects the history of the program.“I think it’s just important to honor the women who wore that jersey before you and the generation before,” Bradley said. “And be able to understand our history and continue to honor it and write our own history. Create those connections with our alumni.”Some players wear their high school numbers, some reconnect with SU alums and others aren’t sure about the meaning behind the digits on their uniforms. Here are the stories behind nine SU players’ jersey numbers as the Orange enter the NCAA tournament on Friday against Princeton in Storrs, Connecticut. AdvertisementThis is placeholder textBull didn’t have any particular number in mind when she came to Syracuse, but took No. 1 when Borg van der Velde switched to No. 21. van der Velde was Bull’s Otto Pairing last year, SU field hockey’s version of big sister role. The two forged a connection with that number as a commonality.This season, when the Orange traveled to Vermont before their first game and had the annual ceremony when a sophomore hands a freshman its jersey, Bull was paired with Sarah Sinck.“Wear this one with pride,” Bull said she told SU’s goalie, “because the girl who wore it before you gave mine to me.”Graham didn’t care what number she wore. She picked No. 6 because it’s “what was left,” she said. When visiting, she talked with Caroline Cady, former Syracuse forward who wore the number during her graduate season in 2018.Cady told her what the number means: Pride, doing your job and always remembering the people who wore it before you.Luby had worn No. 7 her whole life, and Bradley asked her to do her research on Syracuse’s lineage of it. She discovered that the Orange’s previous No. 7, Alma Fenne, led the 2015 championship team in points (47) and featured an especially strong shot.“She had a laser, that’s what everyone said,” Luby said. “And they said ‘you have to live up to that.’ I haven’t, but it’s fine.”Fenne, who’s from Amsterdam, did not reply to Luby’s email asking about what the jersey number meant to her.Cooke had always worn No. 11. But when she got to Syracuse, she was warned not to.“Other players told me ‘Be careful, that’s Ange’s number and you have to live up to it,’” Cooke said.Bradley was comfortable with Cooke wearing the number, as long as she talked to Olympian Shannon Taylor and Serra Degnan. No. 11 is not given out to just anyone, only players Bradley trusts are gritty, determined and hardworking on and off the field.Cooke, who tore her ACL her senior year of high school, proved to Bradley that she was strong enough to sport it. In 2017, she spent time with Degnan — who spent her year after graduation volunteering for the team — as she rehabbed the injury.“You can’t let anyone outwork you,” Cooke remembered Degnan telling her. “That’s not a surprise to me. If you look in my personality, that’s kind of who I am on the field.”When Morrison committed to Syracuse as a junior, she knew that 12 was her desired number. It had been ever since Morrison joined the Washington Wolves at age 11 and played for former Syracuse player Gloria Nantulya. Current Syracuse senior Stephanie Harris had also worn 12 with the Wolves, but switched during her U-16 season because a member of the U-19 team had the same number. Harris couldn’t get called up if two players had the same jersey number.That opened the door for Morrison to switch. Nantulya, who played for Bradley from 2004-07, also wore No. 12. After Morrison committed and Bradley told her to reach out to two past players with her same number, she had a head start. Morrison’s club coach gifted her an orange No. 12 jersey from her sophomore year, and Morrison proceeded to sleep in it before important high school games.“I’ve always been No.12 because it was my mom’s number and the number is really special to me now,” Morrison said. “I still have the jersey, I hung it up in my room in Maryland.”Before Hoffmann committed to Syracuse, she had always worn number 13. She said it represents a “feisty forward.”Shortly after committing, Hoffmann was getting ready for a club match and Bradley told her to reach out to one of her opponents, Leonie Geyer. Geyer had just graduated from Syracuse and donned Hoffmann’s preferred 13.Hoffmann planned on chatting with Geyer after their game, but as the final whistle sounded, she accidentally hit the ball into Geyer’s foot.“I was so scared to ask her,” Hoffmann said, “And I actually didn’t talk to her after. We ended up having a conversation later on.Hoffmann and Geyer haven’t stayed in contact after that interaction, but Hoffmann’s proud to have learned about her. Facebook Twitter Google+ Through her time at Middletown (Maryland) High School and with the Washington Wolves — a club team — Queen donned No. 13. Her mother wore it when she played field hockey at Frostburg State University, but when Queen arrived at Syracuse, Hoffmann already had that number. So she decided to switch to 19, her father’s number.When Bradley told Queen about the research project, she sent a short text introducing herself to Annalena Ulbrich — who graduated in 2017 and tallied 32 points over 36 games for the Orange. Some numbers, like goalie Syd Taylor’s, hadn’t been worn for a decade. But Queen’s connection was more recent.“You put in the hardest work you’ve ever had to do, so if anyone calls you up about it, you’re very prideful,” Queen said.Growing up in Eindhoven, Netherlands, Sinck always wore No. 1. But when she committed in March, she realized that Sasha Bull already claimed it. In the past, Sinck didn’t like it when someone asked her for her number, so she was reluctant to do the sameSinck chose 21, a typical goalie jersey number, because it was one of the few available numbers left. Since Sinck committed so late, she didn’t have to reach out to any former No. 21s, including SU’s starting goalie from last year, van der Velde.Gutsche’s jersey is 43 numbers higher than the next highest on SU’s roster. She wanted to don a number that stands out, one no one has worn before her.“I wanted to start my own legacy,” Gutsche said.All graphics courtesy of Eva Suppa | Digital Design Editor Commentscenter_img Published on November 13, 2019 at 10:24 pm Contact Danny: [email protected] | @DannyEmermanlast_img