Knocking on Wood

Student-Athletes reveal the superstitions behind sports


Reese McDevitt puts on her spikes to prepare for her race.

Silence can be the key to a successful game. Junior Jackson Campbell walks around trapped in his thoughts. He is one of many on the varsity football team that has their own ritual before a game. He walks around in silence and visualizes his job for the game. 

Student sports are more than meets the eye; It’s more than school to field, school to track, and school to court. The space between school and a game or meet is crucial to many. Game superstitions, although sometimes silly to an outsider, can be the difference between a winning and losing. Student-athletes reveal their superstitions either personal or team for their sport. While they have shared some of the same rituals, many have created their own superstitions that they believe will help them and their team succeed. 

Although many on our girls volleyball team follow the usual music ritual, they have their own unique traditions compared to other sports before games. Junior Zariya Robertson explains there are a lot of different superstitions either personal or for her team that help her during the game.

“I think every athlete shares this superstition,” Robertson said. “I have to listen to music to really get in the zone.” 

Many student-athletes have to listen to music before they participate in their sport to help get them in the mindset. Volleyball also has many team superstitions that they have to do before they play.

“Shae Pearson always has us lined up specifically to go on the court and we have to be in the same spot every time. We also say the ‘I believe that we will win’ cheer at every home game. That’s been a thing ever since my freshman year,” Robertson said.

The team waits before the National Anthem. (Aniya Sparrow)

Along with girls volleyball, other sports have adopted these ‘game rituals’ to promote team engagement and school spirit. Cross country runners have their own processes before they go out and run as well as team warm-ups. Sophomore Reese McDevitt has adopted her superstitions before she goes out to run.

“I wear the same necklace and I put my right shoe on before my left,” McDevitt said. 

These superstitions didn’t come out of nowhere and once they start working it is hard to stop doing them. 

“It’s something that I did once and I did well that race, so I just never stopped doing it,” McDevitt said.

Running is a very independent sport and that independence is a gateway for many small superstitions similar to Reese McDevitt’s. Cross country has adopted a system that consists of the same warm-ups and cool-downs before and after every meet as a form of tradition that helps runners get in the zone and get their body prepared at the same time. 

“We always warm up at the same time, and we go to the bathroom a lot,” McDevitt said. 

The football players also have game superstitions for themselves and as a team. Jackson Campbell, has found that he and his teammates on varsity have different superstitions. 

“I prefer silence and I walk around thinking about my job during the game,” Campbell said. 

There is a wide variety of individual superstitions on the football team that contradict Campbell’s.

“It’s mostly juniors and seniors that have things they do before a game. A few players prefer total silence to get focused while others listen to music and talk with others. Some put tape on and walk around,” Campbell said. 

Pregame rituals, although irrelevant to many, especially those on the sidelines, can be the deciding factor in an athlete’s performance. 

“The whole point of having a pregame ritual is to get into the right mindset and to get ready to fight,” Campbell said.