Pre-game rituals prepare players

It’s the day of the big game. The whole city is coming to watch your team face off against your cross-town rivals. You sit in the locker room, anxiously awaiting the game, realizing you are not nervous. Why? You have already performed your pre-game ritual that gets you pumped up.

Most players and coaches have something they do before a game to give them a sense of peace, a bit of strength and a great deal of enthusiasm the day of the big game.

Many professional athletes have become famous for their customs and pre-game rituals. This year the Carolina Panthers wore shirts with the numbers of two of their cancer-stricken teammates on them. Michael Jordan wore his University of North Carolina practice shorts under his Chicago Bulls shorts every game for at least six seasons. And Roger Clemens rubbed the plaque of Babe Ruth in Yankee Stadium on the way onto the field before start. With so many athletes practicing pre-game rituals, it’s no surprise FAMU coaches and athletes do the same.

Preparations range from the mundane to the mysterious, depending on the person, but are all used to prepare a player for the game.

“Once I put on my Superman shirt, I put in a mix CD and get a prayer in … I’m set,” said Thaddeus Payton a sophomore international agriculture business student from Largo, Maryland. Payton is a reserve fullback on the football team.

Damon Miller, the punter on the football team has a more unique method. “I wear a ‘Super Rattler’ shirt under my uniform, listen to some Mystikal and then I sing ‘No. 1 Punter.’ It’s my own version of ‘No. 1 Stunna.’ Once I start that, everyone knows I’m ready,” the redshirt senior said.

Even coaches have found ways to focus on the task ahead.

“I think about making it to the NCAA tournament,” women’s basketball graduate assistant Kenya Grissett said. “I start out listening to Aerosmith, then the latest hip-hop, whether it be Missy Elliott or Jay-Z.”

Know what takes to get excited, pumped up, hype, even crunk before the game?

Some athletes and coaches say that the key is to find the perfect combination of things that takes a little weight off their shoulders. They say when they are calmer, they are able to perform better and assist their team in another victory.

“If I can get my players ready now, then I can have them ready for the MEAC tournament.” Grissett said.

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