By Michael Ruberto
Many Huskies have developed pregame routines and superstitions to help them compete at their best.
Any athlete would agree that when it comes to sports, competing is just as much a mental challenge, if not more so, than it is a physical one. Performing at the highest possible level requires both conditioning and composure. To that end, many Huskies have developed their own pregame routines and rituals to help bring themselves into that competitive mindset.
“We get to the field many hours before the game, so as the starting pitcher there’s a good amount of downtime where you’re just relaxing,” freshman pitcher Wyatt Scotti said. “I like to sit on the bench, be outside, and just keep my body somewhat moving.”
About 80 minutes before the opening pitch, Scotti begins his routine of static stretches and practice throws. This is a regimen that he follows closely, as it has developed over years of pitching to help him ready his right arm for the game ahead.
“My only superstition is that I always throw a certain amount of minutes before the game because I know how to pace out my time,” Scotti said. “I’ve been doing the same routine probably since the beginning of high school.”
Most athletes have a certain warm up routine before their games to get their bodies ready, but Scotti feels that going through this process gives him a mental edge on the mound as well.
“For me it’s a balance of staying relaxed before a game, but also being mentally ready to compete. You need to be ready when the game starts physically and mentally, where you’re not overthinking things.”
While Scotti may not consider himself superstitious, plenty of other Huskies have some “less traditional” game day rituals. Take, for instance, freshman distance runner Tessa McClain on the track and field and cross country teams.
“On meet days I wake up and have oatmeal with peanut butter and banana,” McClain said. “I normally don’t attempt to do any sort of school work; I try to zone out and just focus on getting ready to compete.”
Closer to the actual events, McClain and the other Huskies clear their minds with some lighter activities.
“Some pre-meet hair braiding with the team is always fun. If my race is later in the meet I’ll try and start a game of cards or something,” McClain said.
Whether it’s a game of UNO or chess, McClain and her teammates play these games to help relax and stay ready to perform their best. Though these activities may not be physically conditioning them for a race, she believes they do make a difference, and her fellow Huskies rely on each other in that way to get themselves prepared.
“A lot of times in high school I’d go to meets on my own and I wouldn’t have teammates with me to do those types of things,” McClain recalled. “[At Northeastern], you’re [competing] for the team – it’s not completely individual.”
While track may seem like a far more individual endeavor than some other sports on the surface, this calming pregame routine is a shining example of how teamwork and camaraderie are still crucial aspects of success.
Pregame rituals aren’t just important on the mound or on the track. According to women’s soccer sophomore goalkeeper Angeline Friel, they’re important in the net as well. Over her time as a Husky, she’s developed multiple superstitions of her own.
“Every morning we wake up at 7:30am no matter the time of the game, and we get the exact same Dunkin’ order, which is a caramel iced latte,” Friel described.
The goalkeeper has multiple rituals that get her and her team ready to compete, including listening to Lil Jon and wearing a lucky piece of clothing: a pair of socks with flame patterns which she describes as “Guy Fieri-esque.” Friel traces these patterns back to the team’s first home win of the season.
“We had just gone to get coffee randomly that morning, and since then we haven’t wanted to break the tradition,” she said. “Since we got that win we knew we had to keep going back and giving Dunkin’ business … I actually have a wide variety of socks also, and I have not worn any other pair because I only trust the flame socks.”
While superstitions like this may sound silly from the outside looking in, many athletes know that having a routine and sticking to it can be a big help on game days. For Friel, a 0-3 loss to Hofstra University serves as concrete evidence that her team’s rituals make a difference.
“I have a couple Lil Jon songs that I listen to … and I didn’t listen to them before the game and we ended up losing, so I will not be making that mistake again,” Friel lamented.
Not completing pregame routines can be shaking for all athletes.
“If I can’t do those distracting things I feel like I psych myself out,” McClain said. “Once you start doubting yourself when you get into the actual race, you’re more likely to let those types of thoughts win.”
Friel sees herself as being partially responsible for getting her teammates going before games.
“Being the goalkeeper, you usually have to be the craziest person in the bunch and always bring the energy,” she said.
Whether it’s something as matter-of-fact as a warm up routine, something as calming as a game of cards or something as wild as Lil Jon and Guy Fieri-esque socks, pregame rituals and superstitions help Huskies across sports build a sense of stability and keep their eyes locked on the prize. They allow the athletes to better focus, and to perform their best, both for themselves and for their team.