Athletes prepare mind, body and soul for competition

Athletes prepare mind, body and soul for competition

Members of the Girls’ Varsity Basketball team prepare themselves with prayer before a big game.

The athletes of Fairmont have talent that wins them games. But there are things that they do before the games, meets and matches that help them succeed. From music to handshakes and rituals to prayers, many athletes have something that gets them ready before each of their events.

Of course, the average athlete stretches and warms up before each event to make sure that his or her body is physically ready for the event. This helps prevent injuries and soreness after their strenuous athletic activity. Junior football player Aaron Abbott also drinks tomato juice before each game. “It helps me not to cramp up,” he said.

But stretching and warming up doesn’t necessarily prepare the mind for the challenge that the athlete is about to take on. All athletes have their own way of preparing themselves mentally to be successful.

Cheers to set the mood

Cheering is considered the soul of the spirit at sporting events. Many believe the role of the fans and other teammates is to cheer their team on. The excitement of fans at football games gets junior Tom West pumped up and ready to start. “Hearing everyone cheering on me and the team before a game is such a good feeling,” said West.

Freshman softball player Allie Schroeder includes her teammates when preparing herself for competition. “Before a game, I like to pull the team together and say a few words about what needs to be done and get the team pumped up,” she said.

Junior track and cross country runner Rachel Herman says her teams do similar pre-game spirit sessions. “Melanie West [a senior runner] usually gives us a pep talk before our cross country runs and gets a team cheer in. It helps us get our minds in the spirit of winning,” said Herman.

Other players confess that superstitions and pre-game rituals have developed over the years. For example, senior field hockey player Allie White has a superstition she shares with senior Annie VonderBrink before games. “Annie and I do a special handshake before every game for good luck,” said White.

Junior soccer player Damian Hughes also has a little bit of superstition involved in his pregame rituals. “I always put on my left sock on before my right sock,” said Hughes.

Music for the right mindset

Many athletes at Fairmont like to incorporate music into their pregame routines.  Music has a way of entering the mind and clearing earlier thoughts that have nothing to do with the upcoming event according to some athletes.

“I like to listen to music before a game because it helps me focus on the game and forget about everything that happens earlier in the day,” said senior soccer player Tasha Wilson. 

Junior tennis player Trevor O’Hara also listens to music before a match. O’Hara says the music pumps him up and helps him get the blood flowing.

Preparing the spiritual mind

A lot like NFL football star Tim Tebow from the Denver Broncos, some Fairmont athletes like to take part in prayer before their contests.

 Junior volleyball player Staci Bennett prays before every volleyball match. “I pray and ask God to help me play to the best of my abilities and to help me represent Him out on the court,” said Bennett.

Senior Allie White also always prays right before the whistle of the start of a game or race. But junior Aaron Abbott doesn’t pray for the good of himself, but also for others. “I pray before every sporting event and ask God to keep players from each team safe,” said Abbott.

While prayer in public schools has caused controversy, Fairmont’s policy says it’s completely up to the players if they want to participate in it. “Coaches or the team cannot make anyone do anything related to prayer because we are a public school,” said Interim Athletic Director Frank Baxter.

“Since we live in a free country, we are free to make our own decisions as an individual in our spiritual beliefs,” he said. “It’s no problem for a coach to lead prayer, as long as he/she makes it an option, too. No one can be forced.”