Ramblers got that pre-game rhytmn

These are some of the songs Loyola athletes listen to as the prepare for tournaments and games. 

It’s no surprise that Loyola athletes have routines they follow before competitions. When it comes to preparation before a meet, game, match or tournament, consistency is key.

As much as preparation may be physical, there is also a mental aspect.

Katie Faught. Courtesy of Steve Woltmann
Katie Faught. Courtesy of Steve Woltmann

For senior women’s basketball player Katie Faught, maintaining a positive mindset before games is key.

She makes a point to get sleep, drink lots of water, eat well and stretch leading up to a game.

Faught said it’s important to make sure her hairstyle is comfortable and secure before she plays. She also likes to break in her ankle braces and shoes at the beginning of the year and then keep the same pairs for the duration of the season.

“[My routine is] just kind of trying to feel good and get my head in a good spot,” Faught said. “If the gym is open, I’ll just go and try to get some close shots to get a good feel of the gym … [and] mentally, physically, psychologically feel good about everything.”

Pre-game rituals aren’t limited to basketball, though.

Claire Knaus, a sophomore cross country runner, said she has been eating Honey Nut Cheerios every race day since high school.

“That’s always a staple of mine,” she said.

She also picks out a pair of lucky racing socks each year and holds onto them if she’s happy with how her season culminated.

Race preparation starts two nights before with a good night’s rest, when sleep is most beneficial, according to Knaus.

She said she also likes to take an ice bath the night before a race “just to put some snap back in the legs.”

An hour leading up to the race, the cross country team members do the same dynamic stretching routine and form drills they do at the beginning of every practice and workout, followed by a two mile warm-up run and strides.

“It’s nice to have the schedule and rhythm so you know exactly what you’re doing on race day. So it’s not like you’re doing anything different. We treat it like a normal run,” Knaus said.

She said that right before the gun goes off, the team members huddle together and pray, then Coach Jackie Kropp talks to them one last time.

“I think that’s a really nice forum that we can just relax and tell each other, it’s going to be okay, we’re going to make it through this and just be strong,” Knaus said.

For the women’s golf team, despite traveling as a group, each golfer has her own pre-game ritual.

“We all know our game so well,” junior golfer Olivia Lindsey said. “So we know what we need to do to prepare [individually] and get ready for the round and then come together right before we play.”

Senior golfer Alex Meyers said she likes to start out with the same club and focuses on putting three- to five-foot putts from all around the hole to build her confidence early on in the day or round.

After the individual warm-up, the team huddles to talk, give last pieces of advice and pray an “Our Father.”

“Our routine is … I mean I don’t even think about it anymore, it’s so natural,” Lindsey said.

Andrew Raymonds. Courtesy of Steve Woltmann.
Andrew Raymonds. Courtesy of Steve Woltmann.

Andrew Raymonds, a senior on the varsity soccer team, started a new routine this year during his pre-game warm-up with a few other teammates.

The warm up involves a juggling circle that gets them warmed-up while keeping a lighthearted mindset.

Before heading out to the field, and 45 to 50 minutes before kick-off, the soccer team hangs out in the locker room, blares music, jokes around and has one “last moment of relaxation before the seriousness.”

“We keep it lighthearted in the locker room before [the game], but then a good trait of our team is we have the ability to turn on and turn off when it’s time,” Raymonds said.

Cody Caldwell, senior and outside hitter on the men’s volleyball team, said that as he’s become more mature and gotten older, he’s been able to develop a successful routine for game preparation.

On game day, Caldwell will have breakfast in the dining hall, followed by watching film of the opposing team on the third floor of Norville. The team will then have lunch together and go to their classes for the day.

“Throughout the day, I’ll always be thinking about little things that are going to help me prepare myself,” Caldwell said. “So I’m thinking about what [the opposing team] is going to be doing and what I’m going to be doing. If I’m thinking about that all day, it’ll become more second nature during the game.”

Caldwell said he also does a light lift in the afternoon to get his blood flowing and wake up his body before game time.

Afterwards, the team has a serve and pass warm-up and mediation for about 10 minutes with the team chaplain, Joshua Peters,

S.J. Then, players go to the training room for any treatment they might need before meeting in the locker room to talk about the game right before it begins.

“One thing that our team is very good at, and I’m definitely very good at as well personally, is just treating every game the same,” Caldwell said. “So it doesn’t matter if we’re playing the No. 1 ranked team in the country or the worst team in country, we’re going to treat that day and that game the same as any other one.”

Routine is more than going through the motions. It is comforting, calming and confidence boosting.

Each sport and each athlete is unique in his or her approach to getting ready for competition, but the essence is the same: trust in the process and success will follow.

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