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Monday, Sep 27, 2021

Athlete Superstitions: Success is in the Quirks

Stephen Curry melts hearts when he kisses his daughter. During his playing days, Hall of Fame third basemen Wade Boggs fielded exactly 150 ground balls and feasted on chicken. Basketball legend Michael Jordan always wore his lucky University of North Carolina basketball shorts under his uniform. Tiger Woods always wears red on Sunday.

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But odd pregame superstitions are quite common. A handful of Mercer athletes sat down with The Cluster and shared their own endearing and quirky rituals.

For Mercer athletes, those habits can be the difference between an impressive performance and a mental break. Or so they tell themselves.

Sophomore running back Tee Mitchell has what one might call a more more physical need. He must feel “light on his feet,” as he so carefully phrased it, and this requires many trips to the restroom. Mitchell says he must be able run his fastest.

“I always have to feel empty when I get out on the field. I can’t feel like anything is weighing me down. So I go to the bathroom. Several times,” Mitchell said.

Other athletes need to have certain objects always on them, like junior volleyball player Hannah Noon.

“I have to wear the same hair ties for every game. If I don’t, well, who knows. I’ve never done otherwise,” Noon said.

Noon’s teammate Emily Krogman obsesses over the tidiness of her bedroom.

“I need to make my bed the morning of game day. If it’s not made, I know I won’t play well,” she said. “And the covers better be straight. I’ll take an embarrassingly long time making sure all the corners are exactly even.”

Game day habits tend to be similar between teammates. For two tennis players, their habits have to do with in-game details.

Ruben Vanoppen, who hails from Belgium, fears stepping on the lines when he switches sides of the court.

“I can’t walk on the sidelines when I’m switching sides of the court. I like to hop over them. If I touch them, I feel like I broke some kind of law.” he said.

Grace Korta, also a sophomore tennis player, says that she has a “playlist of songs that I listen to before matches. There are two songs in particular that I’m weird about always listening to. Second, when I’m in matches, and serving, I always have to use the same ball if I just won the previous point with it.”

Football player Kyle Williams says that before every game he sits in a solitary place and listens to Adele’s “He Won’t Go,” a feminist anthem ridiculing a clingy man.

When asked for further explanation, Williams declined to answer.

For most athletes, a habit of pre-game ritual forms throughout their careers. Golfer Hannah Mae Deems said her habits began to evolve when she was just 10 years old.

“Before every round I need to drink coffee—it needs to be decaf, because regular coffee messes me up,” Deems said. “If you know what I mean.”


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