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CSU athletes get in game mode with traditions, superstitions

Annabelle+Stephan+smiles+as+she+plays+in+a+scrimmage+during+womens+club+soccer+practice+April+11.
Collegian | Avery Coates
Annabelle Stephan smiles while playing in a scrimmage during women’s club soccer practice April 11.

From smelly socks to game day playlists, routines are ever prevalent in sports.

Traditions, superstitions, routines — whatever you want to call them — they exist in sports, and they have for a while.

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For lots of athletes, those same routines aren’t superstitions; they just happen to put their shoes on in the exact same order before every game. The same unwashed game day socks are totally not the reason the locker rooms smell the way they do.

For Ellie Watts, a member of the Colorado State women’s club soccer team, superstitions aren’t common in her pregame routine. While she does have a ritual that she goes through before every game, her play isn’t reliant on what happens before the game.

“I wouldn’t say I’m really superstitious,” Watts said. “I do follow some same stuff before every game, but, you know, I go out onto the field and play my best no matter what.”

Even though unwashed socks and the order of which shoe is put on first may not matter in the grand scheme of things, research shows repetition and routine are extremely important for athletes. 

“The foul line is a big one — we avoid that thing at all costs.” -Bennett Gregory, baseball club team vice president

According to an article written by Sean McCann, U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee sport psychologist, routines help athletes do the right things and avoid missteps.

McCann said there are five reasons routines are helpful: A routine increases the sense of familiarity in a new environment, helps an athlete stay active and focused on useful behaviors, fosters feelings of control and confidence, makes useful behaviors automatic and increases the opportunity for the brain to focus on the proper things.

For nordic ski team member Sage Breck, her routine does just that.

“Honestly, I don’t know if it’s superstition or just a ritual, but I’ve been following the same sort of thing since I was little,” Breck said. “I’ve noticed that I eat the same thing before every competition day, and I have a designated playlist for racing that I listen to as well. So not really sure if it’s superstitious, but I definitely have a routine that helps me out.”

Superstitions are present in all sports, though. In baseball, players avoid the foul line like the plague; watch enough baseball and the superstition becomes unavoidably apparent.

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CSU’s baseball team follows that same belief, especially vice president Bennett Gregory.

“The foul line is a big one — we avoid that thing at all costs,” Gregory said. “I also have some classic superstitious behaviors. During our big games, I won’t change my socks, which the guys say is gross, but I can’t not do it.”

Even though changing his socks might not improve Gregory’s play, it sets his mind right before a game.

“I mean, yeah, I don’t really have to not wash my socks,” Gregory said. “But it gets me locked in, you know? It’s kind of the perfect time to tell myself that it’s game time.”

Reach Emma Askren at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @emma_askren.

Interested in more sports content? Sign up for Ram Report here for weekly CSU sports updates!

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About the Contributor
Emma Askren
Emma Askren, Sports Editor
Emma Askren, alongside Damon Cook, is the fall 2023 sports editor for The Collegian. She began working at The Collegian during her first year in the fall of 2022, when she covered the swim and dive team as well as anything sports-related. She is currently a sophomore at Colorado State University, where she is majoring in journalism and media communication and double minoring in Spanish and sports management. During her first year, she joined the rowing team, began working as a reporter for The Collegian and working at the Student Recreation Center. Askren applied to CSU as a journalism major, knowing she wanted to combine her passion for sports and writing to create a fulfilling career. Upon realizing that Rocky Mountain Student Media was hiring for first-years, she jumped at the opportunity to become a writer for The Collegian. While working for the sports desk, Askren has had the opportunity to write about hockey, logging, whitewater rafting and the importance of women in sports. As a woman in a male-dominated industry, she seeks to break the status quo and become a successful sports journalist following graduation. Following a year as a sports reporter, Askren became a co-editor for the sports desk alongside Cook. Together the duo seeks to create a new and improved sports desk that caters to all readers of The Collegian and beyond.

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