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Athletes look to rituals for game assurance

Cobbers practice unique rituals to succeed in games

Countless hours of preparation go into competing in athletics. What the crowd sees, warm-ups and pregame team huddles, are only a small fraction of the time spent physically and mentally focusing for game day. Because every sport is different and requires different skills, each requires a different type of pregame routine to prepare for competition.

Routines range anywhere from physical movement, such as sprints, to mental preparation, such as cheers and team prayers. Junior Kaya Baker uses two completely different preparation techniques — one for cross-country, and one for hockey.

For cross-country warmup, Baker uses a series of running drills.

“I need one to two miles warming up,” Baker said. “Then I like to do, for sure, high knees and then a weird skipping high-knee thing and at least two striders, which are an acceleration kind of thing.”

For hockey, Baker’s team warms up with group activities.

“We have little groups where everyone is doing some sort of game,” Baker said. “My freshman year I was in the hackie sack group and last year I was in the soccer group, but there are other girls that do volleyball and sometimes badminton.”

While some may not see this type of preparation as useful, according to Baker, it gets the mind and body warmed up in a fun and competitive way.

While body preparation is a huge part of pregame routines, so is mental readiness. Unlike most teams, the volleyball team does not mentally prepare and go over team strategy in the locker room, according to senior volleyball player Kathleen Lippert.

After warm-ups, the team and their coaches head to a classroom in the athletic facility and go over, in depth, the opposing player’s strengths and weaknesses. Once the coaches leave, the team proceeds to split on opposite sides of the room and do their “Down by the River” chant. One side of the room chants the verses while the other side echoes. The team then proceeds to run around the room in circles finishing the chant and cheering.

Other teams have different methods of mental preparation. According to senior football player Erik Bye, the football team does a little more individual preparation time compared to team preparation time.

“Everyone has their headphones in and is listening to music,” Bye said. “Then right before the game we all take a knee in the locker room and we recite Joshua 1:9.”

Similar to the football and volleyball team, the women’s basketball team recites a team prayer along with a little bit of a chant.

“Once the coaches leave the locker room the freshman stand up on the benches and sing the school song,” Johnson said. “Then we do a team prayer. It’s one that we all have memorized and it’s the same one every year for I don’t know how many years.”

According to Johnson, following the prayer, the team then proceeds to the court and begins their cheer.

“C-O-N-C-O-R-D-I-A, Concordia, Concordia, Go Cobbers,” Johnson demonstrated.

Pregame routines tend to vary, and change over time, but some athletes, like Lippert, have a specific routine.

Before every game, Lippert says, she has to brush her teeth, no matter what. Along with clean teeth, she has to have the proper attire. She has a home-game set of socks, an away-game set, and a tournament set for back-to-back games that leave no time for laundry.

“Last week, before our home game, my game socks were dirty,” Lippert said. “I didn’t realize that until like 3 o’clock, so I had to quick wash them before the game, because they are my game socks.”

Johnson also has a specific routine, but hers occurs the night before.

“I paint my nails the night before the game,” Johnson said.

Johnson says that if the team wins, she keeps that lucky color of polish, until the team loses — then she picks a new color to paint her nails.

The chants, music, prayers and nail polish are all routines that put athletes in the right mindset for game day. All of this time athletes spend preparing and perfecting their sport, all for an hour or so of competition. All for a win.

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