Not-So-Secret Weapons

Jones athletes and coaches discuss their unique pre-game rituals and routines that help them to perform their best on game day


Photo by Colin B Photography

Jones Cross country coach Andrew Adelman said as a former collegiate runner at Loyola “the act of preparing and keeping certain rituals was always extremely important to me and helped me feel most ready to go when it came time to compete.” He took this experience and implemented it to his team at Jones who continued the same pre-game rituals for the past 7 years hes been heading the team.

From past to present, the greatest athletes have had their own unique pre-game rituals and routines. Lebron James throws chalk in the air, Michael Jordan wears his North Carolina college basketball shorts  under his Bulls uniform every game, Serena Williams wears the same socks all throughout her tournament. Cristiano Ronaldo cuts his hair before every game. The greatest athletes, past and present, have their own unique pre-game rituals, they trust alone.

Athletes and teams at Jones have their own exclusive pre-game rituals that help them to focus and perform their best. From the boys and  girls basketball team to the girls and  guys soccer team and almost every sport in between, to make sure they are fully prepared to play their opponents, these teams have devised strategic habits and customs that aid their performance.

Varsity baseball player, Eric Robledo ‘16 said he always eats a banana in the passenger seat of his car on the way to games and eats a fourth of a bag of sunflower seeds while warming up.  

“We always run in a V formation to the center field fence and back, we get hyped and do a chant in a huddle, (baseball coach Mike) Strok ’05 reads us a motivational line from a poem or something he makes up,” Robledo said.

Varsity soccer player Fernando Ortiz ‘17, said he eats a piece of gum to calm anxiety and pre-game nerves.

Junior Varsity Soccer coach Paul Zubb said he makes sure to tell his team the same key points of emphasis for every game . He believes these points will lead the team to victory if they do them all.

“High level of intensity, holding positions, communicating on the field and most of all never giving up regardless of what goes on or happens,”

Varsity soccer and basketball player Dani Schulgasser ‘17 has a very peculiar way of preparing. She gets dressed in the same distinct distinct fashion before every single game. She pays extra attention to putting on her clothing and shoes; this differentiates her from many other athletes.

“I put my right sock on then my left sock then my right shoe then my left shoe,” she said.

Varsity softball player Nicole Zapotoczny ‘17 expressed the way softball girls share inspiring words among one another so that the players feel united and a vital part of the team.

“As a team, we are all supposed to bring in a motivational quote for everyone. Before the game, we read it, then we put it in our sock to have a little luck. It’s a good way to boost confidence,” Zapotoczny said.

Varsity basketball player Keith Ferguson ‘16 recently started a pre-game ritual for himself that is significantly important to him.

“I pat the number 12 that I wear on my chest a couple of times before each game  in honor of my father who passed August 12, 2014. This reminds me I’m playing for us,” Ferguson said.

Sandra Fortoso ‘16 and the water polo team have a super unique chant which they took from the movie Finding Nemo. They get in the zone by using the part of the movie where the characters chant “shark bait oo ah ah.”

Cheerleader and tennis player Luisa Brayan ‘17 combats her nerves before a match or cheerleading performance in a scientifically clever approach. She feels this also helps her perform at her best.  

She said, “ I stand with my fist over my head because that releases confident endorphin’s in your brain.”

These pre-game rituals and routines, although very unique and special to each individual or team, have the same goal in mind.  They are meant to calm athletic nerves or aid them in performing at their highest level.