Oakland athletes are ‘very superstitious’

It’s common for athletes to have a very specific ritual before games or meets. There are a variety of superstitions that Oakland athletes simply can’t play without. Here are four of the most common types of sports superstitions around Oakland Athletics.


Many student athletes play with departed loved ones in their hearts. A few athletes write the initials of departed loved ones somewhere before the game. Alex Mason, junior transfer on the baseball team, writes the initials of his friend who passed away three years ago on the center field warning track during warm ups. 

Jake VanderLaan, a junior on the men’s soccer team, wears tape on his left wrist with MMH written on it. 

“It stands for my friend Michael Martin Herman,” VanderLaan said. “He passed away but was so influential to me for soccer.” 


Many of Oakland’s athletes are very specific about their clothing during sporting events. A common superstition is that players perform better in certain gear. 

Track runners Elizabeth Girardot, Casey Stribbel and Laura Johnston are all superstitious about wearing the same clothing at every meet.

Jorden Merrilees of the Oakland swim team can only compete in a certain pair of goggles. 

Some of the student athletes are specific with the order in which they put on their gear. Trent Drumheller of the baseball team claims he always puts his left batting glove on before his right and his right cleat on before his left. 

From the basketball team, Corey Petros is guilty of a similar superstition.  He says he must put his right sock on before his left.       

Pregame Rituals

Every team seems to have specific pregame rituals. Vanderlaan explained one of the soccer team’s.   

“Before we walk down for games we always shut the lights off, play a banger and have a strobe light going,” Vanderlaan said. 

Dante Williams, a senior on the basketball team, said he and a couple of the other players from the team sit in the chairs lined up along the side line after shoot around and they don’t leave until they make a shot.

Merrilees has a routine of his own before competition.

“I always try to listen to relaxing music to stay calm and keep my heart rate as low as possible because I generally swim longer events. I also clap three times before I get up on the blocks before a race.” 


It is quite common for athletes to turn to God before a contest. It is no different inside Oakland Athletics. Quite a few players’ rituals involve prayer. Freshman left-handed pitcher Nate Schweers said he prays the Bear Bryant Devotional before every game, a prayer Paul Bryant, long time head coach of the Alabama football team, always carried with him in his wallet. 

Sarah Moen, a sophomore track runner, recites a line from scripture before every race.

“I get in the blocks the same exact way every time and I say, ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’ Then I whisper ‘Let go’ and then I run my race,” Moen said.

Almost every athlete has found a routine or a ritual that works for him or her. Some may be as simple as listening to a certain type of music, and some may be as specific as not cutting their nails for a week before competition. These superstitions help athletes get into the same mental state before every game or meet. A portion of success comes from having the right mindset and with these superstitions; Oakland Athletes are ready to compete.