Bears Before the Brawl: Part 1

William Brown, Staff Writer/Editor-in-Chief

Some Hawthorne High School fall athletes have beliefs that doing specific rituals before a game can enhance performance and luck. Although some may be simple as others are unusual, players believe it has an everlasting effect on the game about to be played.

“As a team, some of the football players go into the freshman locker room and pray together,” says Evan Ramos, HHS football player. “I feel this work sbecause it helps me relax, focus and gets me pumped up for the game so I can perform at my maximum level.” According to Ramos, the football team prepares together also by listening to head coach John Passero’s motivational, pre-game speech as the team rallies in the den.

Ricky Grofsick, also a member of the HHS football team, wears two bands on his wrist in honor of Marcus Gregory Ruta, which he wraps in tape and writes “R.I.P.MGR” across it. “I have so many rituals that some people might call me insane, but it really has an effect on my performance,” Grofsick said.

Hawthorne High School’s boy’s soccer team also has players who perform rituals before a game. “I feel that when I wear my lucky cleats, I do my best,” said Thomas Bushnauskas, HHS boy’s soccer player. “It may just be in my head but I’ll do what it takes to be good.” Bushnauskas claims that without his lucky cleats he’s “a lost soul.”

Eric Jiminez, another boy’s soccer player, said, “First, I put on my game socks. Than, I put on my regular socks. It’s a usual thing.” Jiminez’s ritual is an example of the simplicity in so many rituals performed before a game.  “I know it’s simple, but it’s whatever it takes to do my best,”Jiminez said.

Girl’s soccer has a few rituals that are common as well as a few that are not so common. According to Aislinn Ellerbrook, the team prints out a different quote every game that represents the skill and dedication required to play the sport of soccer. “Each player puts a copy of the quote in her shin guard before every game,” Ellerbrook explained.

Renee Van Olden of the girl’s soccer team prays before every game. “It’s not really a matter of luck,” Van Olden explains. “It’s just me asking God to keep me safe.” Van Olden’s path of prayer is commonly seen in professional sports as well as in HHS sports. Tim Tebow, Bronco’s quarterback, requested that his team pray before every game but was shut down by NFL officials.

Volleyball is just one more sport with pre-game rituals. Players Jessica Chamberlain and Lindsey O’Boyle said that the volleyball team lays flat on the floor forming a circle of players and viciously pounds their hands on the ground to get their hearts going and to pump up the team.

“It’s just something we do to show that we came to play hard,” O’Boyle clarifies. Although this is done by the whole team rather than by individual players, it is done as a ritual to set a mindset of dominance in the payers.

Tennis player Stephanie Doot of the HHS tennis team claims to read a specific quote before every tennis match. The quote, although lengthy, is a definite performance booster for Doot. It lets her know that she can’t win every time but that doesn’t mean not to try.

Cheerleaders and band members also have pre-game rituals to ready themselves and the team for victory. “We always decorate the den and make the run-through the night before,” Jenna Graziano, HHS cheerleader explains. “Then the day of the game, we make sure to put streamers around the bleachers.”

HHS band member Adam Kahn said, “I personally drink a Monster [energy drink] before every game.” Kahn believes that every sip increases the chances of the football team being victorious.

Though, at times, rituals can appear ludicrous, what really matters is the effect they have on the players.

This is the first of a series of articles on team rituals that will continue as the winter season blows in.