Storm gets superstitious

by Laura Dillavou

Right sock, left sock, right shoe, left shoe. Ready to play.

Bounce, bounce, bounce, spin the ball. Ready to shoot.

Point the bat, bring it back, two practice swings. Ready tohit.

Sports superstitions have been around for years. Whether it’s anold sports legend or an athlete’s personal routine, many Simpsonathletes and coaches have strong beliefs in their pre-gamerituals.

“My routine starts on Thursday, for Saturday’s game,” juniorNick McFall said. “I have to eat spaghetti with chicken and frozenvegetables. I think it helps with endurance for the game.”

McFall, a defensive back for the football team, also has apre-game routine that he follows religiously.

“I always take the same bike ride or walk to the locker room,”McFall said. “Then once I am in the locker room, I listen to a PaulSimon CD to mellow me out. His music makes me concentrate and focuson what’s ahead.”

These rituals are no hoax. Superstitions, whether valid oroutrageous, have given sports teams hope and encouragement foryears. A few coaches also have their own special methods for goodluck.

“I’ve been known to be a little superstitious at times,” saidmen’s basketball coach Bruce Wilson. “In 1994-95, we had a team Iwas hoping would make .500. We won a big game and I was wearing acertain tie. I wore that tie until we lost again. It was worn-outby the end of the season.”

Superstitions run rampant in the spring, the time when batsstart swinging and balls start flying.

“There are all kinds of superstitions in baseball,” said JohnSirirani, head baseball coach. “Some guys tap their cleats with thebat a certain number of times. I’ve heard having the bats crossedin the dugout is bad luck, too.”

Many athletes, in addition to locker room routines, have certainitems of clothing that travel with them to every game. Whether itis a lucky jock strap or a special sports bra, often it is thelittle things that make the difference.

“I have a special bra and I wear a certain set of browneyeshadows if it is a big game,” said junior Bradi Smith, a memberof the Simpson softball team. “During the game, if something goeswrong, I’ll change my hair, too. I guess you could say I’m prettysuperstitious about stuff before and during the game.”

While many athletes have personal good luck strategies, thewomen’s basketball team does a few things together to start thegame off right.

“A lot of us brush our teeth before the game starts,” seniorAshley Bogaards said. “Then we are all in the locker room and we doa dance together. It gets us ready and thinking as a team.”

Behind all the tricks, the legends and the myths a routine ofsome kind is something athletes and coaches alike to rely on.

“It is motivation for players, a preparation mentally more thananything,” said Wilson. “For myself, I like to be prepared tocoach, and the guys want to be prepared to play. Any pre-gameroutine is pure motivation for the athletes.”

While certain team bonding is expected, many teams alsoencourage time for prayer and personal reflection before a game.Prayer and the reading of Bible passages for inspiration are a fewof the oldest team-oriented rituals around.

“We always have a talk as a team, and then there are about fiveminutes where we as players can pray or think or whatever,” McFallsaid. “It’s usually a more serious time for the players, prettyquiet and reflective.”