Rituals Impact Marian Athletes to be driven, confident

by Audrey Yost

Marian athletics have been celebrating rituals for years. From the soccer team sprinting up the field saying “Ole’ Ole’ a Blue” at the start of every home game, to the volleyball team singing the same complicated chant before each game; rituals are alive and thriving. Some of these rituals have been passed from generation to generation and some have just begun recently.

Each team has their own way of bonding and celebrating. A popular ritual for Marian athletics is praying before every meet or game. “For cross country, we gather around in a circle and pray before each meet” senior Anna Mikulicz said. Incorporating Mary in prayers has been very popular as well amongst sports teams. Many of Marian’s sports teams pray before each competition; it has become tradition.

Sophomore Aker Ajak has a different type of ritual. She reads the Bible on her phone; she’s been doing this for 63 days straight! During her freshman year, she was on the track and field team. After going to a few meets, she realized that she was getting really nervous. “I thought I should read the verse of the day to calm me down. It did and I remember vividly my second meet at Westside the verse of the day was 1 Corinthians 15:19 which says ‘If only for this life we have hope in Christ are to be pitied more than all men.’ I felt I had a special connection with that verse. At that meet, I got second in one of my events (I usually get 5th or 6th) and I had a Personal Record in another, it was a really impressive jump,” Ajek said.

Some rituals are more personal to certain teams. Softball has one ritual that has been around for years, and they do it as a way to bless the field. Each year, the seniors pick juniors to draw the Marian emblem on the field in the dirt.

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Champions Junior Mia McGrath and Senior Delaney Gunn pose for a picture after the State Championship game. Mia holds the sacred zebra cake. 

“We do it kind of as a way to bless the field before we play on it. After we draw it we all kneel down and take a handful of dirt, say a quick prayer, and then throw the dirt down on the logo,” junior Abby Hayes said. Shortly after, a short clap starts and this year, Tatum Villota added a back-handspring and backflip as team ran into the middle and screamed when she landed. These rituals have helped the team grow closer, and remind them that competitiveness should not take over the fun.

Some girls are firm believers in superstitions and they do the same ritual for their sport. This is more of an individual ritual that helps internally.

“When I am on the sidelines waiting to go into the game I first stretch my ankle to the right in a circle, then the same to the left. Right after, I jump three times. This ritual sounds kinda weird but I believe that it helps me focus and stay on my toes during the time that I’m in. I started doing it about three years ago when my team wasn’t really doing well and they needed someone to go into the game and be a leader and set an example,” freshman Molly Monahan said. Monahan believes she is a very superstitious person when it comes to soccer, because she wears her hair the same way if they won the game prior or changes it if they lost.

Two Marian girls have a different view of rituals. It involves food; zebra cakes, and lots of them. Senior Delaney Gunn and junior Mia McGrath have a superstition with their zebra cakes. During soccer season, they are supposed to alternate buying zebra cakes every week or so; Mia buys most of them. A designated team manager each year holds two zebra cakes during warm ups.

“The team manager unwraps it slightly right after our cheer. Mia takes the first bite and then I take the second bite, always in that order, and if we need a little additional luck I just eat the whole half. After the game we both finish the other one. It pumps us up because it’s just such a delicious pre game snack and it reminds us of State soccer and Morrison Stadium. After we take a bite we’re just ready to go win the game,” Gunn said.

The girls began this tradition halfway through McGrath’s freshman year and Gunn’s sophomore year.

“The tradition is just kind of ‘our thing.’ It gives us just enough energy to get us going for the game, and it’s a special little bond we have with each other,” McGrath said.

The swim team has an annual Christmas party every year. The girls do Secret Santa, and everyone is on the prowl the whole month before trying to find out who their Secret Santa is. The girls do two smaller gifts before the party, and then have their main present at the party.

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Shining Bright Senior Delaney Kottke poses with juniors Kayla Gornall, Haley Mercer, Erin Smith, Sarah Gosch, Bethany Bespoyasny and Sally Noble at their annual Christmas party. The girls spent the night taking lots of pictures and sharing secret santa gifts. 

“Last year I got one of my really close friends who was a senior. For her gift I had everyone write her a letter and send me some pics. I made her a scrapbook from all her years on the team and it was so cute it made her cry. Everyone had a part in it and we were all so excited to watch her open it,” junior Haley Mercer said. The Christmas party brings the team closer and excites them for the championship season.

Traditions empower people through their athletics and daily life.

“Sport rituals are very important in keeping the team close because everyone is is different individually and with the ritual the team becomes whole,” senior Molly Miller said.

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