The student news publication of Libertyville High School

Drops of Ink

The student news publication of Libertyville High School

Drops of Ink

The student news publication of Libertyville High School

Drops of Ink

Weird but true: athletes share their pregame superstitions and habits

Ella D’Amore
Junior Maryam Sellami believes superstitions can bring up “your morale if you really need it.” Sellami, a JV tennis and varsity lacrosse player, uses a specific pair of socks for every game and she has been doing it since her freshman year.

Tennis star Serena Williams is famous for many things, including having seven Wimbledon titles to her name. Perhaps more controversially, she also has a tradition of wearing the same pair of socks throughout a tournament.
Representing a much different sport, former NBA star Michael Jordan had a superstition of his known, wearing his college basketball shorts from his time with the North Carolina Tar Heels under his Bulls uniform for every game.
While neither of these athletes have ties to LHS sports, the common trend of superstitions to bring good luck in athletics is shared by many people, including Libertyville athletes.

“It kind of changes your mindset,” junior Maryam Sellami, a tennis and lacrosse player, said. “If you believe that you really can do it, then superstition helps.”
Sellami, who has played two years of JV tennis, one season of JV lacrosse and is entering her second season of varsity lacrosse for the school, also said that a superstition “helps in a way. It brings up your morale if you really need it.”
While there may not be a direct correlation between a tradition such as lucky underwear or socks and whether or not a team will win a game, a common concept seems to be the comfort one might take in engaging in a superstition.

“Performance wise, I don’t think it has anything to do [with luck],” senior Hayden Koonce, a varsity baseball and football player, said. “I guess [it’s] just that ‘feel good, look good, play good’ feeling. [If] you’re wearing all the stuff that makes you comfortable, [if it] makes you feel like ‘oh, this is going to make me win,’ then it’s going to give you a better shot at winning.”
Koonce has been playing tackle football since third grade, including all of high school and two seasons on the varsity team as a safety and said that “for people even just trying it out or playing it their whole life, it’s a good team bonding [experience].”
The varsity football team finished the 2023-24 season with an overall record of 5-5, including a home opener win over Lemont and a homecoming game shutout against the Mundelein Mustangs. The season ended with a first-round playoff loss against the Cary Grove Trojans, the team that went on to win the Class 6A state championship.
“Before most of the games, we’d just kind of crank up the music for the whole first half of the JV game and dance around the locker room,” Koonce said. “Break all of our nerves out.”
In addition to his years of playing football, Koonce is also a baseball player. With catcher as his main position, he has played his whole life, including all four years of high school, with senior year being his first season on varsity.

Seniors in particular can often have important roles within the team, whether they be starting positions or team leaders and captains. This means that, even for superstitions that may not affect performance, they still set an example.
“I always have to have my hair in some type of braid,” senior Sophia Weick said. “It just has to have some type of braid in it. Junior year, I had it in a new type of braid. It was a fishtail braid and then I tore my ACL. So I’ve never worn a fishtail braid since.”
Weick, who has played basketball in the past as well, was a captain for the girls varsity lacrosse team her junior year.
Weick has been playing lacrosse since seventh grade, including all four years of high school on the varsity team as a midfielder and also said that while she thinks superstitions are fun, she “wouldn’t base your worth in that game or that practice off of it.”

A varsity player on the girls lacrosse team since her freshman year, senior Sophia Weick (13) says that she believes superstitions are fun, “but you shouldn’t base your game off of it.” Weick likes to sport her hair in a braid for her games.

Sellami, a fellow lacrosse player, has a superstition of her own.
“I have a specific set of socks and I use them for every game,” Sellami said. “I’ve just been doing it since freshman year. So I don’t know, I just like doing it.”
Regardless of sport, gender, level or ability, many agree that while not necessarily magical, superstitions can make people feel more comfortable prior to performing. They can, in their own way, enhance or reduce performance.

“I feel like there’s definitely a placebo effect going on,” sophomore Emme Fogle, a varsity track and field athlete and JV cross country athlete, said. “I think you definitely act the way you feel like you should be acting, like ‘if I wear this necklace then I’ll feel good.’ So you kind of act up to that expectation. I’d say it’s probably a placebo, but in your head it might not be.”
Fogle has been doing track and cross country since her eighth grade year. Freshman year, she was also on JV cross country and varsity track and field.
“Pretty much every race I wear the same necklaces,” Fogle said. “I think that’s just something I’ve always done and it’s a good distraction for me during my races. So if I’m hurting or if I want to be done, I can feel the necklace and it just reminds me I’m still there.”

“I feel like there’s definitely a placebo effect going on,” sophomore Emme Fogle says. Fogle is on the varsity track and field team as well as JV cross country. Fogle wears the same necklace for all her races saying “if I’m hurting or if I want to be done, I can feel the necklace and it just reminds me I’m still there.” (Ella D’Amore)

Koonce, who has committed to play baseball for Wilmington College in Wilmington, Ohio, also noted a mantra for him and his friends and quoted record producer Fred Again, saying “‘we gon’ make it through.’ It’s kind of a theme my friends and I have. High school hasn’t been easy for all of us, starting with COVID and then it’s just kind of hard getting back and everything. I feel like that’s just a good quote.”

Do superstitions actually bring good luck or magic to the people who use them? The scientific answer is, of course, no. Still, however weird they may be, they have a funny way of inspiring people to keep going and work hard.
“Just do whatever works for you,” Fogle said. “I feel like any way to make something more fun or more enjoyable is definitely worth it. Running’s definitely a tough sport. I feel like having something to ground you or having something to bring a little joy to you while you’re in a tough spot is definitely worth it, no matter if you believe it or not.”

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