The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

Winged Post

Superstitions snag success for Harker athletes

Elbow sleeves, special socks, Rice Krispie treats and more comprise some of Harker’s student-athletes’ sports superstitions. “It’s very important to the game, even though it’s just a Rice Krispie,” girls varsity libero Norah Mehanna (11) said. (Photos by Minal Jalil, Emma Milner and Brandon Zau. Ilustrations by Katerina Matta. )

Bouncing the ball three times before each serve. Drinking from the same water bottle every match. Wearing the same kneepads to each game, no matter how ripped and faded they become. Many athletes routinely engage in some form of superstition, from rituals as simple as uniform changes to extensive serving routines. 

Girls varsity basketball’s co-captain Claire Miao (12) participates in one such tradition. Over the course of last year’s season, she adopted a pair of lucky socks. 

“A lot of my teammates know this about me, but for every game [last] season, I wore these socks,” Claire said. “I just started wearing them at the beginning of the season, and then I started playing super well. I definitely think it helps me play, because I’ve been wearing them again, and I’ve been playing pretty well.”

Similarly, girls varsity volleyball player Norah Mehanna (11) developed several superstitions over her last two years on the team. Ranging from her choice of uniform to a particular pre-game snack, she believes they dictate her play for the day. 

“I have these elbow pads that I wear, and if I don’t wear my black ones, then I’m gonna have a really bad practice, we’re not go[ing] do well and the game’s going to go bad,” Norah said. “My superstition is that black equals winning. Another one is … if I don’t have a Rice Krispie, I won’t perform at my best, and my team won’t perform at their best.”

While these quirks may appear ridiculous or arbitrary, they are rooted in well-documented sports psychology. Having as trivial a routine as always wearing the same uniform can help prepare a player for competition, since the competitive mindset becomes associated with the action. By constantly engaging in the habit, it serves as a cue that activates the right frame of mind under pressure. Boys varsity water polo player Oskar Baumgarte (11) describes how his lucky number prepares him for games.

“I have to wear the cap number three, or else we’ll lose,” Oskar said. “I always have to wear that cap, and it mentally prepares me for the game if I’m wearing my cap number.”

I always have to wear that cap, and it mentally prepares me for the game if I’m wearing my cap number

— Boys varsity water polo player Oskar Baumgarte (11)

While some athletes adopt certain gear, others engage in team-wide rituals to prepare for matches. Boys varsity soccer player Ryder Hewitt (10) emphasizes how his team’s pre-game routine of blasting music in the locker room boosts their energy before each game. 

“[Listening to music] gives us way more energy because we go straight from a long school day right into having to ramp up for a game,” Ryder said. “To listen to Playboi Carti screaming into the mic, to have that blasting through our speakers, means that…we’re starting to [think], ‘Okay, let’s get hyped. Let’s get ready for the game!’ ”

The oddity of certain rituals can help bring a team closer together. Whether it’s a group tradition or an individual quirk, unique superstitions help form common ground. Norah comments on how her choice of pre-game fuel has become a running joke within the girls varsity volleyball team. 

“I definitely think [my superstitions] are all in my head,” Norah said. “But I feel like it’s something silly that we all can bond on. I’m always like: ‘where’s my Rice Krispie?’ It’s very important to the game, even though it’s just a Rice Krispie. It’s got to happen.”

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About the Contributors
Minal Jalil, Reporter
Minal Jalil (10) is a reporter for Harker Aquila, and this is her second year on staff. This year, Minal aims to cultivate her voice as an advocate for the Harker community. In her free time, she can often be found reading books, watching movies, or memorizing quotes from either.
Katerina Matta, Co-Sports Editor
Katerina Matta (11) is the co-sports editor for Harker Aquila and the Winged Post, and this is her third year on staff. This year, Katerina aims to expand sports features and diversify game coverage. In her free time, she enjoys playing beach volleyball and reading.

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