For many athletes, superstitions and routines are key ingredients for Gator wins

By on October 4th, 2012

Superstitions are a well-known trait of the sports world.

In the 1982 NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball Tournament, Michael Jordan wore his lucky shorts and he and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, won the championship. The lucky shorts followed him to the NBA where he continued to wear these shorts for every single game he played.

At the University of Florida, many athletes have their own superstitions that give them confidence whether they are kicking a soccer ball down the field or smashing a volleyball over a net.

Tangerine Wiggs, a senior UF volleyball player, has been a key player on the Florida volleyball team for three years. Her key to success is her orange Nike socks.

“I have to wear the orange socks with the Nike check,” she said. “I’ve done it every game since I’ve got here.”

Wiggs said one game she forgot her socks and instantly went into a panic. However, a fellow teammate Taylor Unroe saved the day by bringing the socks.

“There have been times where I’ve had a bad game and I think maybe I should switch to blue,” Wiggs said. “But, I go back and I just can’t stand not to wear the Nike orange songs.”

She said no matter how the game goes she will always go back to the socks.

For UF soccer player Kat Williamson socks are not the key to a great game, but rather the order she puts on her soccer gear.

“I never put on my left shoe before my right, so everything is right shoe, left shoe, right shinguard, left shinguard,” she said.

Williamson also uses an energy drink called Spark to fuel up before a game. She said she once mixed the drink with fruit punch then lost a game against Miami. Never again will she mix the energy drink with fruit punch, although she has since switched to lemon-lime.

Williamson also said she will put on her uniform on in the morning for a game as late as 7 p.m.

“It just calms me a little bit,” she said.

Lee McGriff, a former Florida football player and coach, had a counterintuitive lucky charm when he played. He would carry around a Buckeye, a token from Ohio State University.

McGriff said certain routines and the repetition of “lucky” items can give players structure, which can ease their jitters before a game.

“It’s something tangible, practical right then that you go through and say ‘Ah, I’m going to do good because everything’s in order. I’ve done everything right it’s going to be right,’” he said.

Kelsey Meany wrote this story online.

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