Silly superstitions or reliable rituals? Students depend on pregame habits for luck


Emlyn Polatty

Thespian society members stand on the picnic tables outside the cafeteria and scream. This is a ritual that they do before every performance to let their nerves out.

Kal Smith (11) dribbles the ball down the court as adrenaline rushes through his veins. He fakes left, then right, and just as he’s about to make a basket, he sings the chorus of his favorite nursery rhyme— “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” While this may seem odd, many students like Smith have a ritual that gives them that edge to win a game or ace a performance.

For Smith, singing the nursery rhyme allows him to enter a calm headspace, eliminating pregame jitters.

“I just [sing] anything I can remember…just to calm me down. It reminds me of my mom and dad singing to me when there was a thunderstorm outside,” Smith said.

Similarly, volleyball player Keyonna Moore (12) has a ritual before every serve to calm her nerves: a couple of deep breaths right before her serve.

“I started it about two years ago. I was struggling to get my serves over [the net] consistently, Moore said. So I was like ‘Ok, what do I need to do? Ok, I need to breathe [and] take a moment.’”

However, superstitions and rituals are not limited to athletes. Theater students have superstitions they believe can impact the performance of their play.

“We have a superstition that… you can’t say the name of Shakespeare’s Scottish play [MacBeth],” Milla Meiman (11) said.

This superstition began in Shakespeare’s Globe Theater during a performance of Macbeth after a prop knife was switched with a real knife, and the actor was stabbed on stage.

“The rule is if you say it, you have to go outside the theatre, spin around three times, spit on the ground, say a curse and knock on the door until someone lets you back in,” Meiman said.

While this is one of their more complex superstitions, the WSHS theater has plenty more, including standing on a table and screaming to let out nerves and hugging their castmate Zac Glover (12) before a performance.

Some believe these superstitions and rituals have a direct correlation to their success. But cross country runner Muaz Khan(12) attests that your ability makes one successful, not superstitions.

“You don’t always have to have rituals,” Khan said. “You just have to have self-confidence.”