Patriot coaches reveal pre-game team customs

As successful as Stevenson sports teams are, most fans in attendance leave the game thinking only of the final score. What they don’t realize is that behind every Patriot win is a long history of pre-game traditions. No matter the sport, every team has its own unique pre-game rituals. It’s the combination of these traditions mixed with the athletes’ dedication that leads to winsboth on and off the field.

Each team has its own unique rituals, Sarah Walker, girls lacrosse coach, said. For the varsity girls lacrosse team, this ritual comes in the form of Harriet, a dog-shaped statue.

“Harriet got her start when I was named head coach, and I started thinking of different traditions that we could make happen,” Walker said. “We like to say that when the girls are on defense, they’re ‘hunting’ the other teamthat’s where Harriet comes in. She’s a hunting dog.”

Every year, the team paints Harriet in a new way and gives her a new collar, Walker said. At the end of the season, the team MVP gets to keep the collar and the attached dog tag.

Although rooted in a fun tradition, keeping tabs on Harriet is no easy taskthere are certain rules that must be followed.

“Someone has to carry her throughout the day,” Walker said. “No lockers, no cars and at least one team member needs to be with her at all times.”

The boys‘ volleyball program also has its own distinct pre-game rituals, Eric Goolish, boys volleyball coach, said. The team eats Subway sandwiches before every home game.

“I’m not sure exactly how the guys get thereit kind of just happens,” Goolish said. “It’s been a tradition of ours for a long time.”

In addition to getting Subway, the pre-game warm up that the team completes before game time is unique to the sport of volleyball, Goolish said.

Something that volleyball players must consider when getting ready to compete is timing.  Match duration is determined by winning best out of three games to 25 points.  This is contrary to many sports where a clock dictates the length of competition.

“Since we don’t know how long the game before us will take, it can be hard to figure out when we need to start warming up,” Goolish said. “It’s a challenge that’s unique to our sport.”

A tradition in its own right, the varsity boys baseball team completes the same warm up routine before each game. The timed schedule begins right after school on game days, Paul Mazzuca, boys baseball coach, said.

“From 3 p.m. to 3:45 p.m., we have batting practice,” Mazzuca said. “Then from 3:45 p.m. to 4:05 p.m. we jog and stretch as a team and so on until game time.”

Mazzuca said that he sticks to a routine for a reason. He believes it’s key to team success.

“The quicker we as coaches can get the players into a set routine, the better,” Mazzuca said. “It helps establish that necessary level of comfort before a big game.”