Boys hockey shares their traditions and superstitions
January 2, 2018
High school sports are both physically and mentally demanding; the hours before the big game are nearly as important as the performance itself. Athletes are often known to practice unique pre-game rituals for good luck.
Hours before games in the boys hockey locker room, players can be seen practicing and preparing for the upcoming game. Many prepare themselves in strange and uncommon ways. However, these rituals have been ingrained in them for many years throughout their hockey careers.
Dressing and equipment
Players have very specific pregame routines at the high school, college and professional levels. Specific dressing and order of equipment is the ninth most common ritual in the National Hockey League.
Players dress very specifically, “I always put on my right skate and right shin guard before my left. I feel like if I put on my right we’ll win,” Adam Eisele junior assistant captain said.
Many athletes are very superstitious and often times mental preparation is the key to a good player and a successful game. By practicing these rituals, it mentally prepares them for the game ahead.
Captain Joe Raleigh is a great example of extreme superstitions. When asked about why he has so many specific pregame traditions, “I like to say don’t change something that’s not broken,” Raleigh explained.
Game day routines
Many famous athletes such as Bjorn Borg and Serena Williams are known to wear the same outfit before games or follow a specific routine to insure success and safety throughout the day and into the game.
Raleigh is no different, “After school I go home, take my dress clothes off, and hang them in the same spot every time. I then take a 20 minute nap, shoot some pucks at my house. I leave my house to get a turkey, ham and lettuce sandwich from Brines, tape my stick at the rink and get ready with the boys.”
Diet and hydration
Eating a well balanced diet is very vital towards the performance of a competitive athlete. For this reason, on game days competitors eat a much more focused diet that will help their performance.
Hydration and a balanced diet are what make a great athlete, “[on game days] usually I just eat really healthy, typically sandwiches or high protein snacks to keep me full throughout the day. Also I drink a lot of water,” senior Josh Long said.
According to Penn State athletic studies, water is the single most important nutrient within the body and directly leads to athletic success. The most talented athlete is simply average if they become dehydrated. To compete to the best of an athlete’s abilities it is essential that they intake enough water throughout the day.
Water is very important to coaches and athletes, “I drink a lot of water because it keeps me healthy and gives me energy for the game,” Long said.
Coaches take this very seriously and want their athletes physically prepared in every form before events. Drinking water is a vital part of that preparation and athletes will not be successful if they don’t continue to drink water throughout the day leading up to the game.
According to the Health Science academy, “listening to music before, during, or even after sport and activity can contribute to motivation, performance, and skill learning in a very broad way.”
Music is physically proven to excite the players and keep them motivated throughout their performance; this is often why coaches allow music within the locker room.
Music plays a large role in exciting the whole team as well as individuals, “I always listen to the same music, it’s a large variety. We all listen to pump up music, we don’t have any specific songs, but the team has a huge playlist that we listen to before games in the locker room,” senior captain Matthew McGinley said.
Before every game the entire team partakes in a game they call “suey”. The players all stand in a circle and pass a soccer ball around. The game brings out the players competitive nature and unites the team.
When asked about “suey”, all boys replied very similarly, “It’s fun to get with the team and have some fun with the boys before we get into a serious moment,” McGinley said.
Many universities have studied the relationships formed within athletics. Athletes perform better when they form friendships and trust each other. Games such as “suey” bring the team together and enhance their performance by creating relationships and healthy competitiveness within the team.
Every player prepares themselves differently, however they come together and unite as a team to win games. The athletes all get along and they have a lot of fun playing together; the team has become very close due to common interest and their dedication to hockey.
Before games they come together and focus on what they need to do in order to win, “A couple hours before the game there is a lot of energy in the room; we’re all getting excited and prepared for the game. The last half hour before we hit the ice it’s pretty serious [in the locker room], no one is saying much. We’re all preparing ourselves together as a team,” McGinley said.
No matter how uniquely the athletes prepare themselves, the team chemistry is what is most important. They all work together and are hopeful for a successful season doing what they love.