Chase Bradshaw is doing what he can to continue to honor the memory of former high school teammate Jeremy Huber.
Bradshaw, a Las Vegas resident and Palo Verde High School midfielder who will play for the Loyola Maryland men's lacrosse team next spring, requested and has gotten approval to wear No. 19, the same number Huber wore for Johns Hopkins as a freshman.
Huber never got to show off his number in the regular season, as the defenseman was found dead in his dorm on Jan. 26 due to complications from pneumonia and flu. But Bradshaw will wear the number as a member of the Greyhounds.
"I'm excited," Bradshaw said. "Every single time I look down or I'm struggling in practice, I can remember that Jeremy is always with me and even more so with No. 19 on my chest."
The request was a little awkward. The number has been worn by senior defenseman David Manning, who was on track to graduate in May and leave the number to the program. But Manning sat out the 2015 campaign due to a torn meniscus in his knee, and he will return in 2016 for his final year of eligibility.
Manning could have retained the No. 19. But he quickly agreed to give up the jersey to his future teammate.
"I don't really put anything into numbers," said Manning, a Chapel Hill, N.C., resident who will switch to No. 59 as a salute to his favorite player in the NFL, Carolina Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly. "It's just a number. It's better for him to have it all four years than for me to have it just for my fifth year."
Bradshaw said he is grateful for Manning being magnanimous.
"I'm really excited that I'm going to be able to wear it next year," Bradshaw said. "I haven't had a chance to call and thank David yet, but I will."
Loyola coach Charley Toomey said Bradshaw's request confirmed to him that the midfielder fits the program's values.
"I'm glad that we've got a guy of such character," Toomey said. "That's what you would want from anybody. You want a guy who would honor his closest friend in any way possible, and that's who we have with Chase Bradshaw."
Beginning in the sixth grade, Bradshaw played lacrosse with Huber — who was one year older — on the same middle school, high school and club teams. Bradshaw said that even as a seventh grader, Huber was the most dominant player on the field.
And when Huber committed to play for the Blue Jays, he became the local source for information and advice for players in the Las Vegas area, including Bradshaw.
"Any time I had a question about a tournament or a school or any of the coaches I would meet, he was always my No. 1 resource," Bradshaw said. "I have an older brother, but he never really got involved with lacrosse. So I looked to Jeremy as my older brother, best friend and best mentor I've ever had in lacrosse."
Bradshaw said he was sitting in first-period Spanish class on Jan. 26 when members of the boys lacrosse team began texting each other about an incident involving Huber. Bradshaw texted his mother, and Tiffany Bradshaw gave him the bad news.
"It was one of the worst days of my life," Chase Bradshaw said. "I just burst into tears during class. It was kind of scary. No one knew what was going on, and they just turned around and saw me crying. I got out of class and stood outside for a while to try to compose myself. I went back inside, and I didn't really pay attention. I pretty much just put my head down crying the whole time."
After mourning the loss of his friend and gaining inspiration from Johns Hopkins' decision to preserve Huber's locker at the Cordish Lacrosse Center and paint his No. 19 on the turf at Homewood Field, Bradshaw latched onto the idea of wearing the number at Loyola.
Robert Huber, Jeremy's father, was touched by the gesture.
"As you know by now, we appreciate the things that people do to keep memories of Jeremy alive and to help him be remembered," he wrote via email. "When one of his friends or teammates offers to do something like this, it is one of those happy/sad moments. Happy that someone was touched enough by knowing Jeremy and sad that we will all miss him. We were touched and proud to know that Jeremy was so important to him."
Blue Jays coach Dave Pietramala heaped praise on Toomey and the Loyola program for granting Bradshaw's request.
"That makes me appreciative that Coach Toomey would consider letting that boy do that," Pietramala said. "It is a heated rivalry, but for them to do that shows a lot of class. For the boy to want to do that, I think it says an awful lot about him and the kind of young man he is. And I think it says an awful lot about Jeremy and the kind of young man that he was to inspire a kid to do that."
Bradshaw said three other Palo Verde teammates — attackman Carson McCann (Denison), midfielder Jordan Foster (Connecticut College) and defenseman Josh Lovejoy (Randolph-Macon) — are looking into wearing No. 19 in college. It's a move similar to a trend among former players of The Hill Academy in Vaughn, Ontario, wearing No. 45 in honor of Jamieson Kuhlmann, who died in 2008 after being struck in the head with a lacrosse ball.
Bradshaw said he doesn't know what he would have done if his request had been denied.
"I'm unbelievably grateful," he said. "I think being able to wear 19 is motivation. Every single time I'm on the field, I'm going to look down and see No. 19, and it will reinforce why I'm there and it's going to remind me of the greatest mentor I ever had in lacrosse."