FRESNO, Calif. - A uniform is a sense of pride for athletes and teams. For the Tulare Western football program, one jersey goes beyond the number.
"On our team, the meaning really signifies the team captain. For me personally it's just to pay homage to a cousin of mine," said Rocha.
Rocha remembers his cousin Evan Bernard as a standout athlete at Tulare Union in the late 1990's.
"He had just won the valley championship in football and had shoulder surgery, routine, had it done before. But to much anesthesia caused him to slip into a coma and he passed away," said Rocha.
To keep his cousin's memory alive Coach Rocha looked no further than the jersey number he used to wear.
"I realized we didn't have a 43. So, I said 'Let's throw out 43 and let's make a defensive captain award.' We can explain to them by keeping Evan's name alive how important it because of where it came from," said Rocha.
An idea was born and the jersey became more than a number. For the first time since 2013, the number 43 captain's jersey went an offensive player, senior David Alcantar.
"A lot of people know the story behind the jersey. Most of them think it's going to be defense that gets it but this year I broke the trend of getting it at running back," said Alcantar.
"He's just made us change, he's that type of player," said Rocha of Alcantar.
To wear the number 43 -- the Mustangs captain must maintain a high grade point average.
"Our grades are a big deal. He (Rocha) believes in school before football," said Alcantar.
Keeping perspective and priorities on a path to greatness.
"This is something that kids at a young age at Western want to shoot for and strive for. If we could put everybody in 43 I tell you what I know my cousin would be happy about that," said Rocha.