Pregame traditions motivate athletes

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Photo by Katie Chin

Before games, Vikings enhance team spirit through pregame rituals that have developed from the core of each team.

Katie Chin

Before games, Vikings enhance team spirit through pregame rituals that have developed from the core of each team. A sense of unity arises from these traditions, creating lasting bonds between players. From wearing kilts to mooing like cows, the traditions of various teams boost athletes’ morale, imbuing the field with determination as the game begins.

 

Field hockey

Red and blue kilts dot the school prior to field hockey’s home games. The players wear plaid skirts, called kilts, to school on game days, a tradition started by Sandi Stober, the founder and former coach of Lynbrook’s field hockey team. To further honor Stober, the players run out to hit a rock on Stober Field, the founder’s namesake, before the start of each game for good luck; off the field, the players wear bracelets dedicated to her.

“When we hit the Stober rock, we remember Sandi Stober and all the field hockey players before us, and that inspires us to do especially well on the field,” sophomore Brigitte Au.

The team often holds pasta parties on Sundays before their game the next day. Hosted at a player’s house, drinks, appetizers, fruits, vegetables and desserts are served up, each course assigned to a different grade to bring. Following the meal, card games foster unity, and the team’s inside jokes often find themselves in the pre-game chant the next day.

 

Football

“Vikes!” echoes across the football field as the football team runs straight out to the center of the field and shouts, boosting school spirit and confidence leading into the game. Another of the team’s traditions is their gift exchange, during which the football and cheer teams create gift baskets for each other.

“The gift exchange boosts cooperation and morale with those who support us,” senior Tristan Dowdell said.

This year, the football team has also begun the practice of praying at halftime. Even for players who aren’t religious, the prayer is meant to keep the team safe and bring luck during the second half of the game.

“These traditions help calm pre-game nerves because we’re reminded that we’re not out there alone, and that we have teammates to rely on,” Dowdell said.

 

Cross Country

Heaping plates of steaming, savory pasta line an entire table in the cafeteria. Carb loading has long been a nutritional necessity for athletes before a race, and it’s no different for the cross country team. The evening before most races, the runners meet for pasta feed — a long-standing tradition in which they enjoy a high-carb meal as a team to fuel them for the impending race.

“Pasta feed really helps to create time to spend with the team, which is important since we’re working together the next day to try to win,” senior Patricia Chang said.

Runners often make homemade pasta to share with the team and though pasta feed primarily consists of salads, garlic bread and a wide assortment of pasta, the team makes sure to provide alternatives to satisfy the dietary preferences of all the athletes.

 

Girls varsity basketball

Before each game, the girls’ varsity basketball team can be found hunched over a binder, sketching a picture of the opposing team and filling its pages with goals for the game.

“All the teams we play are very different,” junior Maggie Lam said. “Having specific goals for every game helps all of us focus.”

Humorous graphics relating to their opponent and their mascot are scribbled throughout the pages of the goalbook. Short descriptions of the players’ goals for that game can be found scattered beside them. By the time the game begins, players can see all their teammates’ goals outlined on the page and plan their gameplay accordingly. 

“It’s nice to hear what other people want to achieve,” Lam said. “The goalbook allows our entire team to help each other achieve our personal and team goals.”

 

Valkyries

Arms glide gracefully through the air. Legs kick with the rhythmic beat of the drum. Yet before it all, the sound of “moo’s” fills the afternoon air. Yet, a cow is nowhere to be seen — only two dancers, on all fours and face-to-face, mooing at the top of their lungs. The moo-off is only one of the many games the Valkyries play prior to performances as a way of calming their nerves.

“It’s really nice to get all our nervousness out by just laughing and yelling,” junior Abigail Fong said. “No matter how many times I’ve performed on stage, it’s always really nerve-wracking, so it’s nice to have some calm.”

Another of the Valkyries’ rituals is standing in a circle, linking pinkies with each other, and reciting a chant that ends with a “Good luck!” and with one person squeezing the pinky of another and the dancers going down the line, squeezing each other’s pinkies.