May 26, 2019

Game day preparation

Brianna Campbell/ Collegian File Photo
Athletes look to game day superstitions for victory over their opponents

Some people may not believe in rituals, superstitions or routines, but for many athletes they’re a vital element that more than likely determines the outcome of their personal performance.

Whether it’s a lucky meal, exercise regimen, nap, or even nail polish, some Fresno State athletes admit they need some type of physical reassurance that luck is on their side.

Fresno State softball player Haley Gilleland admits her routine may not be comprehensible to those off the field, but it serves its purpose for her come game day.

“I run one to two miles then eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich,” Gilleland said. “I know it’s weird, but it makes me feel faster.”

Gilleland said she doesn’t consider herself very superstitious, but finds herself sticking with certain routines before every game.

“I catch myself wearing the same fingernail polish if I played well and we won,” Gilleland said.

Along with pregame rituals, Gilleland said her nerves are settled by performing a step-by-step routine when she steps into the batter’s box.

“Before I hit, I sweep out the box starting from the front line to the back,” Gilleland said. “I never take warm up swings in between pitches and when I’m on deck I lift my bat over my head and stretch then swing the bat in circles starting with my right arm, then my left.”

While some of these routines may seem strange and somewhat excessive, Fresno State linebacker Ben Jacobs thinks personal rituals are a major factor in piecing together his pregame mindset.

“Before every game, about an hour before kickoff, when we first get to the locker room, myself, Travis Brown and Eric Brown will all go out to the field and we’ll play sting punt,” Jacobs said.

Sting punt is a game the special teams unit uses to practice pinning the opponent deep in their own territory.

As for more serious pregame rituals, Jacobs said he follows the same time and preparation schedule before every game.

“I always go straight to the training room and get taped. Then [ I ] go to a meeting, and then I come back and put my shirt and my shorts on and my cleats,” Jacobs said. “I do the same thing every time. It never changes.”

Sophomore basketball standout Paul George relies on a more casual routine before he takes the court.

“I always take a nap. I think that’s important,” George said. “We’ll have our shoot around, and when we finish we have about two hours until we have to meet back up at the gym. That’s when I usually take my nap, let my body rest and take my mind off basketball.”

In addition to his relaxing nap, George looks to his nephew for written words of encouragement for support.

“Every game I wrap my left wrist with tape, and write my nephew’s name, which is Devon, and the words “pride” and “victory,” George said.

George, shares a unique friendship and meal preference with another Fresno State athlete.

Golf player Bhavik Patel and George consistently dine at a local restaurant, Teriyaki Don, at least three days a week.

“The first time we went to Teriyaki Don he had 30 points in his game, and ever since then I’ve been telling him, ‘that’s what did it’,” Patel said.

As for Patel and his personal rituals, he said he doesn’t have any. However, that may change soon.

“I don’t have any,” Patel said. “That’s a good idea though. I think I’ll have to come up with something.”

While Patel jokes about being non-superstitious, for now, he and George will stick to their friendly lunches and hope that it continues to give George the boost he needs in his basketball career.

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