1,856.

That’s how many points Meredith Hamlet scored during her career at McBain High School in McBain, Michigan, a small town “under the knuckle” of the ring finger, to use Michigan “mitten” terms. That’s 232 points more than the previous record, which was held by two people — her sisters, Annemarie and Elizabeth. She scored the only quadruple double in her school’s history. She was an Associated Press all-American three times and was offered a scholarship…during her freshman year of high school. She’s good.

But none of those accolades or numbers mean as much to Meredith as the single digit on her back when she hits the court. Hamlet, now a freshman at Valparaiso University in Indiana, wears her lifestyle on her sleeve. Or rather, her jersey.

“I wanted a number that means something to me in college,” she told I Am Second while balancing classes and practice. She saw that the number two was free and picked it.

(Meredith Hamlet, a freshman basketball player at Valp, decided to pick the number two as her jersey number in honor of her faith. Credit: Valpo University)

(Meredith Hamlet, a freshman basketball player at Valp, decided to pick the number two as her jersey number in honor of her faith. Credit: Valpo University)

“That means something to me because my relationship with God is something that I treasure and has made me who I am today. So I was like, ‘I’ll pick number two and therefore I am second.’

“Every time I put on the jersey that means I’m telling everyone that I’m playing for God first,” she said.

So far the response has been great. She’d be lying if she wasn’t expecting some sort of negative reaction. But it hasn’t come. She’s gotten encouraging text messages from back home and her current coach even told her she shared Meredith’s reasoning for choosing the number two with her children.

“The key is not about the number of likes I get,” she said, a reference to an Instagram post she put up explaining her jersey selection.

“I think to me it’s about spreading the word, especially in today’s society when it’s not the norm. For me, I feel like God has given me that platform of playing Division I sports and I want to do something with that. I want people to know I play for God and that I live for God on the court and off the court.”

(The post Hamlet put on Instagram explaining her jersey decision. Source: Instagram)

(The post Hamlet put on Instagram explaining her jersey decision. Source: Instagram)

Still, Meredith’s faith doesn’t mean she doesn’t have struggles. She’s positive when you talk to her and you can practically hear the smile on her face, but there’s something going on.

“Few know the inner struggles that plague me,” she admitted.

“On a daily basis, and sometimes hourly, I deal with anxiety and worry since I was little.”

It’s her faith that actually helps her deal with it.

“I’ve realized through my worry that the one who I always turn to is God. I can testify that faithfulness brings blessings beyond measure,” she said. “I would not be the same person, nor would I have the personal relationship that I do with Him if it weren’t part of His plan for me.”

She’s also found strength in knowing “I am not alone, nor am I abnormal.”

(Meredith Hamlet, a freshman basketball player at Valp, decided to pick the number two as her jersey number in honor of her faith. Credit: Valpo University)

(Meredith Hamlet, a freshman basketball player at Valp, decided to pick the number two as her jersey number in honor of her faith. Credit: Valpo University)

And that’s her message to others: “I would say to those who are struggling to find their purpose in life — you are not alone.”

“I often felt like I was the ‘weird’ one for wanting to live out my faith,” she said. “But God had put it on my heart to do so and the reward is peace.”

Now she’s doing so on one of the biggest stages. When the Crusaders open up their season at Butler on Friday, there’s a chance Hamlet could be starting (she’s already started in an exhibition game). Either way, she’ll play. When she steps on the court, the crowd will merely hear a name and see a number. But for Meredith, it will be a declaration. A declaration that she considers more important than anything she will do in the game: she’s second.

And if her college career goes anything like her high school one, it will be a declaration that a lot of people hear.