Sports | Jenny Hudalla
Student athletes share their favorite pre- and post-game traditions.
While some batters are shaking with nerves when they stand in the on-deck circle, Royals first baseman Kal Sorensen and catcher Caroline Kivisto are usually shaking with laughter. The pair of infielders has employed a new tactic this season to help themselves clear their heads before they step up to the plate: telling jokes. “Caroline will ask me, ‘Wanna hear a cat joke?’ Then she’ll say, ‘Just kitten.’ It gets me every time,” Sorensen said.
Many athletes have lucky handshakes, but captains Jon Crouse and Jack Paul have done the same elaborate pregame pep talk since they played juniors together. When the senior duo skates onto the ice for the national anthem, they give each other a high-five, a head tap and a hug, accompanied by a well-rehearsed dialogue. Crouse says, “Hey, guess what we get to do today?” Paul responds, “We get to play some puck today.” Then Crouse finishes by saying, “Yeah, let’s go play some puck,” as an affirmation of how lucky they are to play the game they love.
After finishing above the .500 mark for the first time in two years, the women's soccer team ended the season with a new tradition. Before every contest, the players put a large "X" on the top of their hands in permanent marker, symbolizing the "X factor" for the team. According to sophomore Jess Huseby, the "X factor" ranged from "play extreme at all times," "be explosive," "work extra hard" and "exalt His name."
Although some teams enjoy the hype surrounding pregame traditions, the women's basketball team likes to keep things simple. The players spend an hour in the locker room listening to music and mentally preparing themselves for the game before taking the court. Some of the girls wear the same hairstyle at each competition for good luck.
Believe it or not, events more exciting than CWC lectures take place in CC313. Before football players take the field on Saturdays, they congregate in the large lecture hall for a little pregame bonding. Sophomore Nick Vander Vorst, defensive end and pianist extraordinaire, plays a few songs that lead the team into a synchronized pounding – on tables, on chairs, on teammates' heads – until head coach Steve Johnson arrives to deliver what junior tackle Jeff Schmidt called a motivational sermon. "This is a time when the whole team can get together and just be us," Schmidt said.
Men's Cross Country
Some traditions are tried and true, which has certainly been the case for the cross country team’s policy of never crossing the finish line while running the course the night before a meet. Sophomore Matt Berens, one of the team’s lead runners, said, “That's a no-go. You only cross the finish line during the race.”
Most teams huddle up for an inspirational pep talk before taking the court. But for the men’s basketball team, the inspirational talk is usually replaced with an inspirational dance. After the starting lineup is introduced, the players form a circle around junior forward Luke Buttenhoff, who has more moves than just his jump shot. “My main goal when I dance is to do the most ridiculous things I can to make my teammates laugh or pump them up,” he said. “It was a lot of fun for us, because by the end of the year [they] would choose my moves for me. It got a little out of hand.”