Schuckman: Jersey number signifies family tradition for Kvitles

Posted: Nov. 26, 2012 10:23 am Updated: Jan. 7, 2013 10:50 am
Quincy High School guard Martin Kvitle earned the Paul Dennis Most Valuable Player Award after averaging 21.3 points in leading the Blue Devils to the championship of the 42nd annual QHS Thanksgiving Tournament. (H-W Photo/Michael Kipley)

Martin Kvitle deferred the way an underclassman is expected to do.

Two years ago, when Kvitle was moved up to the Quincy High School varsity boys basketball team, he wanted to carry on a family tradition and wear No. 5. As it turned out, DeAngelo Dean wanted the same number.

"Actually, DeAngelo wanted to wear No. 12," Kvitle explained. "He wanted to be Dwight Howard. Then he realized he wasn't Dwight Howard. He wasn't big enough. Then he wanted No. 5 to be like Kevin Garnett."

Since Dean was a year older, he got first choice.

Of course, he took No. 5.

"I was thinking, ‘Why did I tell him not to be No. 12?'" Kvitle said.

Regardless, Kvitle had to choose another number, and he went with No. 15.

"I wanted to be one better than my brother," he said, referencing the fact Jason Kvitle wore No. 5 during a career that spanned 2002-05. "It made sense."

It made even more sense to switch to No. 5 this season.

Hannah Kvitle, the third oldest of Kirk and Barb Kvitle's four children and currently a standout volleyball player at Louisville, wore No. 3 in high school because her older sister, Emily, already had No. 5. However, when Hannah began her collegiate career at Saint Louis University, she chose No. 5 for two reasons.

Faith and family.

According to Martin, Hannah chose the jersey number because it symbolized the number of times Jesus Christ was stabbed while hanging on the cross. It also reminds the family of their late uncle, Mike, who had Down syndrome and gave them a memory to last a lifetime.

"It's a great story," Martin said before retelling it.

The family was sitting in their vehicle at a gas station, and Mike wanted money. His speech impediment brought on by the downs syndrome didn't allow him to clearly saw Abraham Lincoln. So each time he asked for a $5 bill, all the family could understand was Lincoln.

"We were like, ‘Yes, we know you're from Lincoln,'" Martin said.

Eventually, they figured out he was saying Abraham Lincoln and gave him his $5 bill.

"It's something that stays with you," Martin said with a smile.

The influence of his brother sticks with him, too.

"My brother says the one thing he looks back on is he wishes he would have worked out more and worked harder each and every single day," Martin said. "I may not go on and play collegiate basketball and I won't be the leading scorer in Blue Devil history, but when I look back on it, I want to be able to say I worked my butt off every single day."

Saturday night, his hard work was rewarded.

After leading the Blue Devils to the championship of the 42nd annual QHS Thanksgiving Tournament, Martin received the Paul Dennis Most Valuable Player Award.

His name is now on the same list as his brother's name, who won the award in 2004.

"I didn't want to have to open the program next year and see Jason's name in '04 and my name not in there," Martin said. "It's a little bit of family rivalry."

Moreso, it's respect.

"Having Jason as a role model is special," Martin said. "Having him there pushing me every day means a lot. Without him and my parents, I don't know. It wouldn't be the same. It's just a family thing."

It's a family tradition.



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