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The story behind the number

By Zoha Naghar

Everyone has something in their lives that holds some sort of personal luck or significance. Whether that be a prayer, a ritual, a necklace or even a certain pair of lucky socks. People often find comfort in a specific thing that means a lot to them.

Athletes are often asked about their pre-game rituals but sometimes there is none. Sometimes, it’s the very shirt they wear on their backs that prepares them for the game. 

To many, an athlete’s jersey number may seem like a way to identify players on the ice, court or field, but for the athletes, the number on their jersey can be their good luck charm—a part of them that boosts performance. 

Here are the stories behind some of the numbers Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) Bold varsity athletes don on their jerseys: 

Answers have been edited for length and clarity.

Aaron Rhooms – Men’s basketball –  Number 12: 

Rhooms said this number reminds him of his parents, specifically his late father who also played basketball. 

“He wore the number 24. They say, when you’re born you get half of your mom and half of your dad, in a way. So half of 24 would be 12. I’ve been playing basketball for a long time—since I was 12—I’ve always worn 12,” Rhooms said. 

Catrina Garvey –  Women’s basketball  – Number 17: 

For Garvey, getting 17 as her jersey number was one of the things she had requested when she committed to the Bold. 

“I don’t think they had it so I think it might have had to been made…I’ve worn it for the past four or five years because [the 17th of March] is St. Patrick’s Day and I’m Irish, so it represents my culture and who I am. It’s more than just a number on my back,” she said. 

Gaby Gareau – TMU women’s hockey team – Number 11:

Originally from Ottawa, Gareau looked up to former hockey player and assistant coach for the Ottawa Senators, Daniel Alfredsson, who also wore the number 11. 

Gareau said when she arrived at TMU, the number 11 was already taken by a player. 

“On my birthday, my coach reached out telling me that the player was stepping away from hockey for a bit to focus on academics and the number was now available,” Gareau said. “The fact that coincidentally on my birthday the number became available again, I took that and I ran with it. Ever since I’ve been number 11.” 

Cole Resnick – TMU men’s hockey – Number 15: 

Resnick was given five options for his jersey when he joined TMU but elected to choose 15.    

“Fifteen stood out to me. It wasn’t for a specific reason, I think it was just a subconscious decision and 15 was my favourite number out of the options there,” he said. 

“Even though 15 wasn’t significant for me at the time, it has turned into a significant number for me,” Resnick added. “Over my time playing hockey, I’ve worn two numbers that I think are pretty significant. 26, and now 15.”

He said the number is “almost just a good omen” for him.

Britni Yammine – TMU women’s hockey – Number 25

Yammine made sure her jersey number always held significance to her. For example, she wore 91 during her junior hockey days as an ode to the year her father immigrated to Canada from Lebanon and met her mother.

However, Yammine switched things up when coming to TMU. 

“I chose 25 because…my best friend that I grew up with, playing boys hockey, was always number 25,” she said. “He has been my childhood best friend my entire life and still to this day I’ll always kind of reminisce about our days of playing hockey.” 

The numerals on each athlete’s back can hold a story of love, motivation and luck. They can be an integral part of an athlete’s life that sticks with them for years. 

Regardless if it’s short or long, there’s always a story with every number.

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