He does not eat the day of a race, but the day before he has to eat pizza, he only wears a certain pair of shoes and he has to wear rubber wristbands while he runs.
This is sophomore Matthew Sustayta’s routine that he follows every time he is going to compete in a cross-country race or in a track meet. Sustayta is not the only athlete at the University of La Verne who takes their superstitions very seriously.
“When you succeed once doing certain things, you want to repeat it,” Sustayta said. “Psychologically if you feel better, you perform better.”
Many professional athletes have superstitions that are taken to an extreme level. NFL defensive tackle John Henderson gets slapped across the face by a team trainer before every game so that he can take the games first hit in a controlled environment. Former MLB outfielder Moises Alou used to urinate on his hands before the game to get a better grip on the bat, since he did not wear batting gloves.
NBA point guard Jason Terry also sticks to a routine as he wears five pairs of knee-high socks while on the court and he must eat chicken before every game.
Most of the athletes at La Verne do not take their routines as far as urinating on their hands, but they are still strange.
“I clean all my gear and I take two showers,” sophomore linebacker Steven Donohue said. “I have to go into the game fresh, with a clean slate.”
“In high school I had to eat Starburst before every game,” sophomore football player Christopher Mora said. “Now I just have to make sure I take a nap before game time.”
“My left sock has to go on first,” sophomore soccer player Peter Careaga said. “And my ripped sock has to go on my left foot too.”
“I don’t walk on the chalk before the game,” freshman softball player Breanna English said. “It gives you a feeling of comfort. I feel like I’ll have a better game if I don’t step on the chalk.”
Some student athletes have routines that are more normal and not as quirky. “If we win I do the same thing for the next game,” sophomore soccer player Anthony Bennett said. “I wake up at the same time. I just do all the same stuff.”
“I really just listen to a certain band or group before the games,” freshman basketball player Alysse Thummel said. “It gets me motivated, hyped up and ready to go.”
There is no real explanation to why athletes follow their routines. Whether it is as simple as eating pizza or as unusual as taking two showers before game time, it is just something they do.
“It’s just something I’ve always done,” Careaga said. “I don’t want to jinx myself by not doing it. I’m just very superstitious when it comes to playing soccer.”
Elsie Ramos can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.