Oberlin Athletics Talks Peculiar Pre-Game Superstitions

Everybody does something to get in the zone. When there’s a big game or test coming up, most people tend to have a ritual to mentally prepare themselves. Personally, I like to listen to aggressive rap music before any big game to get into the right mindset. Other classics include wearing a particular article of clothing or eating a special food. Besides the tried and true methods though, many athletes have unique and elaborate traditions.

Oberlin men’s lacrosse team has a “Chipotle group.” Fourth-year Tom Decker, third-year Max Cha, and second-year Aidan Loh all go to Chipotle the night before every game.

“We don’t just go for the food,” Decker said. “We go to catch up with each other, talk about the plan for the game, and make memories off the field that we can look back on and laugh about.”

But athlete traditions can get even more obscure — third-year lacrosse player Bobby deLuna always takes a shower right before each game. You may think it’s strange to take a shower right before you sweat for two hours, but there’s a method to deLuna’s madness.

“The pregame shower is so functional to get a good stretch under hot water and clear sinuses, especially for a spring sport,” deLuna said. 

While some root their traditions in science and wellness, other head-scratching superstitions of some of the men’s lacrosse players are a little less hygienic. Fourth-year Colin Regan said he wore the same socks for every game — and that he didn’t wash them during the team’s eight-game winning streak. Although he has faced backlash for the stinky consequences of his decision, Regan didn’t budge. 

“We were winning, and I stand by it,” Regan said.

Another questionable winning-streak superstition for the men’s lacrosse team was Head Coach Ryan Polak not cutting his toenails.

Coach Polak declined to comment on the state of his toenails.

The men’s soccer team has a tradition in which every player touches a Tappan Square rock before each game, very similar to a Clemson football tradition.

“We all touch an old rock from Tappan before a game,” said fourth-year defenseman Ryan Kim. “It symbolizes playing for Oberlin and the community. We even travel with it for away games.”

Third-year first baseman Max Anastasio says that there are a lot of individual superstitions on the baseball team, including one he follows: he doesn’t let pitchers touch his bat. This practice seems to be working for Anastasio, as he currently has the second highest batting average on the team, at .346; but don’t tell him this, since another one of Anastasio’s superstitions is that he doesn’t check his stats during the season — a classic baseball move.

Although I personally believe most superstitions are complete bulls**t and don’t do anything to actually help you for a game, a placebo can still be very helpful to give you the mindset and the confidence you need to succeed. Fourth-year men’s lacrosse defenseman Kiernan Stone never participates in more than half of the team’s warmups and instead sits on the toilet. Somehow, he still goes out on the field and performs in every game. At the end of the day, no matter how “weird” a personal ritual is, it’s what gives some athletes the mental boost they need in order to perform at the highest level.