Headbands, breakfast and Migos: North Texas sports superstitions part II

Headbands, breakfast and Migos: North Texas sports superstitions part II

Headbands, breakfast and Migos: North Texas sports superstitions part II
February 28
18:14 2017

During the fourth game of the season for the North Texas men’s basketball team, freshman guard A.J. Lawson was not himself. Going against Rutgers, he scored two points on a woeful 1-of-3 shooting while grabbing just one rebound in ten minutes.

Coming into the game, he averaged 10 points per contest.

There was only one logical explanation for this peculiar performance.

“I didn’t have [my headband],” Lawson said. “It was a freshman mistake. I have to have a headband. When I have it on, it clears my mind.”

Aside from the one game he forgot it, Lawson has worn a headband in 27 games this season and averages a team-high 11.5 points per game while shooting 44 percent.

Coincidence? He doesn’t think so.

Similar superstitions saturate the minds of athletes in nearly every sport. In the spring semester, athletes take things a step further as their seasons come closer to the end of the school year.

The women’s basketball team is currently 8-8 in conference play and is having their best season at home since 2012. The Mean Green has several individual ways to prepare for games, but at home especially, there is a routine that sets the tone.

“We turn up the music and play our favorites [in the locker room],” senior guard Candice Adams said with a small laugh. “A lot of Migos. A little bit of Future.”

A key cog for North Texas, Adams has a fairly consistent pre-game routine which includes finding the rhythm for her shot and getting some rest before taking the court by taking a nap around two hours before tip-off.

On the more abnormal side of routines for basketball players, sophomore guard for the women’s team Orianna Shillow shares a superstition with Lawson involving socks.

In practices and games, Lawson wears two of the same side Nike socks, so two lefts or two rights instead of the usual left-right combo. Shillow is sure to put on her left sock, left ankle brace, and left shoe before her right sock, ankle brace and shoe. It’s always in that order.

But basketball players aren’t the only ones with judicious routines.

Across campus, the North Texas tennis team has superstitions of its own. They even have their own pre-match breakfast spot.

“We usually have a really good breakfast [at Seven Mile Café] the day before our match, so we feel encouragement from each other and support,” sophomore Maria Kononova said. “I think we start the next day with the same mood and it really affects our game.”

While Kononova herself does not need a routine to get ready, her teammates are unique in their preparation for matches.

Sophomore Tamuna Kutubidze usually plays as the two seed for the team in singles and pairs with Kononova in the No. 1 doubles slot. Despite being over six thousand miles from her home country of Georgia, Kutubidze is sure to make herself at home before matches.

“First of all, I call my mom because before I came here she was always with me,” Kutubidze said. “[Then] I always wear this [bracelet] and touch this cross [on my necklace]. Then I imagine that my mom is standing there all the time [during the match] and it calms me down.”

Two seasons ago, senior Alexis Thoma won the team strength and conditioning award. She has always been a fitness enthusiast, which apparently helps her on the tennis court as the No. 3 singles player.

“The night before [a match] I always have straight protein, [which is] just chicken, chicken and more chicken,” Thoma said. “In the morning, I have to have all my specific drinks [and vitamins] ready. I do Herbalife24, then I always have to wear the necklace my mom gave me.”

A hundred or so yards away at Lovelace Stadium, the North Texas softball team’s season is now under way, and they have wasted no time getting their superstitions in order. Whenever the team is walking or entering somewhere together with something dividing two entry ways, they all have to go in on the same side, or else their game could be compromised.

Seriously.

“If you split the pole it’s bad luck,” sophomore Harley Perella said. “We make everyone go on the same side of the pole. Any pole that you walk by, so if there’s a pole or a chair or something we all have to walk on the same side of it.”

The team clearly will be tough to beat if they do not split a pole, or chair, the entire season. They also eat breakfast at Old West Café before home games, and several players on the team are determined to drink coffee in the mornings, as well as a few hours before the first pitch is thrown.

Sophomore outfielder Bailey Thompson is peculiar in her superstitions, especially since some of them can span 24 hours.

“If I have a good day then I’ll do everything the exact same [the next day],” Thompson said. “My hair has to be the exact same [in games], and if I have a good day, I eat the same thing and park in the same spot [the next day].”

With both basketball seasons wrapping up and the tennis and softball teams in full swing, these athletes are willing to try any and every superstition if they think it will help them win.

No matter how ridiculous it may sound.

“I never really understood why I did it, I just make sure I do it,” Shillow said.

Featured Image: Freshman sophomore A.J. Lawson holds out his headband in the Super Pit. Colin Mitchell

About Author

Matthew Brune

Matthew Brune

Matthew Brune is the Senior Sports Writer for the North Texas Daily, covering football and men's basketball.

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