By Jacques St. Jean and Conor McTigue
Traditions and rituals – from the common postseason beards to the All Black’s Haka dance – have always been a common sight in sports. Springfield College athletes and teams are no different. The Springfield Student asked some Pride players to share their go-to pregame, in-game and postgame routines.
Junior wrestler Jared Swartz stays calm, cool and collected before he steps on the mat to scrap. When there’s only two or three bouts ahead of him, Swartz will put on his headphones, and head to his assigned mat with nothing but his phone, his headgear, and a standard 16oz water bottle. As he waits his turn, Swartz will begin to sip on his water, timing it so it’s all gone right before he steps on the mat. “I’ll wipe off my shoes, slap my arms a few times, and then I’m ready to go,” Swartz explained.
Lily Gould, a junior on the track and field team, prefers to start off their meet days with a breakfast consisting of scrambled eggs and bacon, and a Dunkin iced coffee (oat milk and caramel) to drink. Participating in the field side of track and field, Gould is a member of the self-proclaimed “Bomb Squad” which consists of all the throwers on the team.
“The name Bomb Squad came from a past thrower,” Gould explained.
After referring to a teammate’s throw as “a bomb”, the name Bomb Squad was born.
“It keeps us accountable to throw our best every day, no matter the case,” spoke Gould. The Clifton Park native also repeats a mantra in their head before competitions: Go out there and do your business.
“You’re not competing against everybody,” Gould stated. “You’re competing against yourself… no one else is stopping you from doing [what you want] but you and your own body.”
With the rest of the #BombSquad, Gould and their teammates keep hold of each other’s goals on note cards, and also communicate with each other how they’d prefer to be cheered at when they go out to throw. For Gould, they prefer hearing their teammate’s encouragement loud and clear, and their team’s throwing cues as little reminders before launching their throwing object out onto the field.
“I am very much in my head when I enter the circle,” Gould shared, “so hearing my cues again like ‘back, kick’ or ‘glutes activated’ [helps].”
The men’s volleyball team’s most consistent tradition is winning, but this year’s squad has introduced a few new in-game rituals that reflect the diverse makeup of the team.
“A lot of our celebrations are in Spanish,” said junior Liam York, a native of Hawaii, “because a lot of our guys are Puerto Rican.”
When opponents hit a ball out of bounds, York and his teammates yell “Y fuera!,” which means “and out.” Other celebrations are simply fun. When a Springfield player gets an ace or a kill, players on the side will yell “ka-ka-boom” in unison, along with throwing first-year libero Nico Meija, the lightest player on the Pride, into the air.
First-year football player Amir Preston has several personal pregame superstitions. He puts on his footwear in a specific order before every game: “Right sock, left sock, right cleat, left cleat, tie right cleat, tie left cleat,” said Preston, who noted it is something that he’s been doing as long as he can remember.
He said that many of his teammates read an inspirational quote right before they put on their helmets and take the field. After a win, the Pride players celebrate by playing “Take Me Home Tonight” by Eddie Money over the loudspeaker and in the locker room. While the song has been a victory anthem for the team for years, some players today have made their own meaning of the upbeat song. Graduating senior Julian Nuñez will always think of his time spent on Stagg Field when he hears that song.
“Eddie Money says at one point ‘I don’t want to let you go ‘til you see the light.’ I don’t know what he’s talking about,” Nuñez explained, “but for us we compare it to the feeling of winning and how we don’t want to let it go because of how good of a feeling it is.”
Like many pitchers, sophomore softball player Ashley Pugliese always brings a bag of rosin with her when she enters the circle in order to get a better grip on the ball. After she releases each pitch, Pugliese also does a small hop as a part of her natural motion.
“It just happens,” Pugliese said with a laugh. “After I release [the ball] I land and then I hop. I don’t know why; it’s just a little thing.”
Pugliese and her teammates get together in a circle before they take the field and start quietly chanting the phrase “Pride get ready to roll” – then follow it up with three claps. They repeat this three times and then huddle up close to each other and say their team tagline – “All In” — on the count of three.
Gianna Niman is a freshman on the women’s track and field team. She is a physical education major from West Hartford, CT and participates in the 60-meter and the 200-meter races.
A superstition and or pre-meet ritual she has is braiding her hair before every meet. She said it’s something she did throughout high school and makes her feel faster and lighter on her feet. The team has a routine of a walkthrough type practice the day before the meet, where they all envision their events.
“For example, if I’m running the 100m, I think about needing a strong block start, high knees, and to push through.”
Photo: Springfield College Atheltics