Superstitions help cross country team in competitions

Isabel Miller

Senior Connor Ward begins a typical race day by listening to upbeat music. It pumps her up and gets her going. Then she prays. Each race she does exactly the same. It’s not just Ward. Other members of the cross country team go through their own pre-race rituals. 

Superstitions and rituals are important to many members of the cross country team. For example, Ward said if she runs well in a meet while wearing a specific set of socks, she wears those socks again for the next meet, claiming they are her lucky socks.

The runners also perform rituals as a team before a meet.

“After strides and stuff, we’ll get in a huddle, and we’ll say a group prayer,” Ward said. 

In addition, her teammates give pump-up speeches and break by cheering “Texas” on three. Ward said she talks to her teammates about their superstitions. 

“I know that some of my teammates, when we run the course the day before, don’t like to run through the finish line fearing that it is bad luck,” Ward said. 

She also said one teammate makes sure to do one high jump in place before she runs her race. Many on the team don’t like to wear watches when they run, fearing it is bad luck.

Even head coach Brad Herbster has a ritual. 

“Let’s get it going,” he says in each pre-meet speech. 

It’s not just rituals and superstitions that help the team. Ward said team bonding is crucial to success. The athletes have dinners together almost every night. Many of them live together, and they go out together for birthday celebrations.

But Ward said one of the biggest rituals is cheering “Texas Fight,” something close to the hearts of the athletes and a ritual that dates back years. The boys team yells “Texas!” while the girls team responds with “Fight!”

“When you hear that you think, ‘This is it,’” Ward said. “‘I’ve got to go.’”