Isaiah Freedman Sports Editor
When an athlete has an exciting and captivating pre-game ritual, the results can be spectacular. Whatever the ritual may be, its demonstration serves as the perfect suspension-builder and hype machine for whatever sporting event is to follow. Think LeBron James’ legendary powder throw, the Seattle Seahawks’ ferocious mosh pit, Steph Curry’s barrage of half-court swishes, Zach LaVine’s dunk-a-thon, David Ortiz spitting on his batting gloves, Wilt Chamberlain never showering so opponents would not want to go near him or Cristiano Ronaldo’s insistence upon getting a fresh haircut before every game. While student-athletes are not celebrity superstars, some of their pre-game rituals and superstitions are just like those of the pros.
There can be many reasons behind why a player has a pre-game ritual. It could be to calm or to fire up up the nerves before a big match. It could be a tribute to a loved one, a confidence booster, or even a good luck charm. It could have a religious meaning. It could be just plain superstition. Whatever the purpose is behind each ritual, the execution can be cool to visualize and witness.
For the student-athlete population, there are tons of really simple rituals, quirky ones and also a ritual that tops all of the professional athletes listed above. It’s that crazy. Since there are so many individual stories that should not be missed, they’ve been ranked into three categories: ‘Simple yet effective’, ‘Oh, that’s neat!’ and ‘The Greatest’. Let’s get going!
‘Simple yet effective’
This group of students may perform common routines, but they help them win, which is all that matters.
Jack Harris (boys tennis)- “I just try to eat before a game. That’s it.”
Xander Bienstock (boys basketball)- “I just listen to Travis Scott for pregame. It helps fire me up.”
Patrick Levy (football)- “I listen to Waka Flocka Flame to pump me up before the game.”
Sam Cohen (boys basketball)– “I always knock on the wood of the court before I play.”
‘Oh, that’s neat!’
This group of rituals may not top that of ‘The Greatest’, but they are still really unique, interesting superstitions that not many other athletes on this planet perform.
Lily Manavi (girls soccer)– “I wrap tape all over my wrist and write the name of the team we are playing that day. The entire varsity team does it because it really helps us focus and push ourselves harder to win.”
Brian Arianpour (boys water polo)– “I would always have to eat spaghetti before a game if I wanted to perform well. I felt like if I consumed anything else I would play bad.”
Rubini Korasidis (girls Water Polo)– “The second before a water polo game starts I always put some [drinking] water into my mouth then spit it out. I don’t know why I started doing this but it helps me get focused. I also like to dance and listen to music.”
Greg Ayzenberg (boys Swimming)– “I like to get slapped in the face before a race to get me going.”
This is the wackiest sports ritual I have ever heard of. It is multidimensional, fresh, respectful and probably works. It’s a long one, so hang tight and enjoy the play-by-play from senior Owen Lloyd.
Owen Lloyd (boys Volleyball)– “Before every game, I make myself two turkey sandwiches. I then eat half of one, and throw the remaining one-and-a-half sandwiches in the garbage out of respect for the fallen players before my time. I try to arrive at every game at least 45 minutes early, so I can spend at least 30 minutes before each game lying on the court, evaluating the wood. Then, I proceed to call each family member of mine, extending to my aunts, uncles and cousins, and I inform them that I will not bring shame to our family. Each teammate of mine slaps me in the face as I jog a lap around the net, so as to symbolize the struggle ahead. Lastly, I scream into my backpack until I’ve lost my voice, to ensure that my abilities as an athlete do the talking, not my larynx. I evaluate the wood one last time, and step onto the court.”