Pre-Game Rituals: A remedy for success

What are the pre-game rituals our athletes are doing to ensure a successful performance on game day?


Photo submitted by Adam Homo.

The Boys varsity Cross Country team celebrating after winning the Northern Lakes Conference championship at Ox bow park on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018.

Tyler Lehner, Editor-in-chief

The final days, hours, minutes, and seconds leading up to a big game can leave a player’s emotions running wild. In the locker room during pre-game, a person can look around to find athletes hidden with their earbuds in getting mentally prepared, others dancing and getting hyped up, or some are simply relaxing keeping their thoughts to themselves.

However, there are some things a person wouldn’t see, which begs the question: what are some of Memorial’s best athletes doing as a pre-game ritual that gets them prepared for game time?

It starts by understanding what a pre-game ritual is. Pre-game rituals are acts that athletes engage in to help with the mental component of playing a sport and competing at a high level.

We’ve seen some of our favorite professional athletes doing their pre-game rituals right in clear sight. Lebron James, for example, has been known to toss-up chalk dust in the air right before tip-off, signifying ‘go time’ and when that chalk dust goes up in the air, Lebron is ready.

Some pre-game rituals, on the other hand, are not quite seen in clear sight. Tennis phenomenon Serena Williams washes her hands clean and makes sure they are dry before every match. There are just some things we don’t see.

So what are some of Memorials own athletes doing before game time?

Our boys cross country team has seen some major success this year. The team, which consists of some of the area’s top runners, has a pre-game ritual of their own.

Before every meet, the team listens to ‘Country Roads’ by John Denver. It’s our favorite song.

— Daniel Brown

Is John Denver the man to thank for cross country’s success this season? Probably not, but the team was crowned the Northern Lakes Conference champions, so thank you, Mr. Denver.

Senior football player Cameron Lightner has a pre-game ritual of his own, and has been doing it since the day he started playing tackle football.

“We have a lot of time to get mentally prepared before football games,” Lightner said. “So I usually slip in my earbuds and then I close my eyes, I visualize what I’m going to do in the game and I make sure to include every little detail including sound and sight.”

Junior swimmer, Tyler Rouch, has a ritual that may be deemed peculiar by most.

“I know it’s weird and unhealthy,” Rouch said, “ but before a swim meet, I will always drink a Coca- Cola and munch on a granola bar.”

Although most coaches would suggest not to consume carbonated beverages before competing, this ritual has been confirmed effective for Rouch.

“The Coke and granola bar has proved to be successful for myself,” Rouch said. “I am at my best when I’m sipping a Coke, as a lot of my personal best times in the pool have came after doing my ritual.”

Like cross country, our girls soccer players have their own way of getting their head right before games as a team.

“A lot of us go to Martin’s on game day and eat a bunch of food together before we have to report back to school.” senior Ma’Elena Perez-Garcia said.

The girls soccer team knows what’s up, because there is not a single place in town better than Martin’s to get a full meal, plus it’s two minutes down the road.

Golf is a sport that requires intense mental concentration, so what types of things are our golfers doing to prepare to be mentally focused?

Junior golfer Lily Ball has her ways to prepare for one of the most difficult sports of them all.

“I will always stretch before,” Ball said. “I have my own stretching routine, but I also chip, putt, and swing all of my clubs to get a good feel for them.”

Our student athletes aren’t the only ones who have interesting pre-game rituals. We must not forget about our wonderful teachers that currently coach and played a sport in high school or college.

Beloved teacher and football coach Jeff Miller was an all-state quarterback at Elkhart Central High School in his younger days, and to this day, he still remembers the routine he had every Friday to prepare for the Friday night lights.

“Thursday night after pre-game meal, I would go home and make sure everything was washed. I would triple check and make sure I had everything, I would pack it all in my travel bag. I wore the same shirt under my pads, I wore the same socks, and even wore the same wristbands every single week,” Miller said. “On Fridays, when school ended, I would go to Charlie’s Butcher Block and get the same sandwich, which was roast beef with honey mustard, then I would go back to the fieldhouse (now Tom Kurth Field House) and I would get my sandwich, my Walkman (CD player) and I would make my way to the field to sit under the North goalpost of Rice Field to eat my sandwich. Then I would go back into the fieldhouse to lay out my jersey and accessories like a chalk outline. Next, I would shower. I took a shower to get rid of any negative energy or bad luck, then I would get dressed around the time my teammates would arrive. I’d get taped, walk the field, and finally I would look at my scouting report and get ready for pre-game.”

Coach Miller isn’t the only teacher who had a pre-game routine. As an admired history teacher, Mr. Asbury, had one of his own when he played baseball for the Crimson Chargers way back in the day.

“I played baseball for Memorial, and before games, I made sure to never step on the lines,” Asbury said. “On Saturday morning games, I would go to McDonalds and get myself a bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit meal. This came with a hashbrown and a drink, and I always had a Coke to go with it.”

There must be something special in Coca-Cola, as even our teachers drank it before games years ago.

As student athletes, we all have a way to become mentally prepared during the final minutes leading up to go time. Pre-game rituals are vital to calming your emotions, so if you are an athlete and you don’t have a pre-game ritual, try sipping on a Coke before a match.