Adam Guyden, reporter
Zoe Wooten, editor
There has always been a relationship between superstitions and sports but the members of the Berry College Athletics Department have a different take on their connection.
Berry College athletics consists of 22 Division III teams that have been recognized on a national level many times. These teams work hard to produce the best performances they can as evidenced by the accomplishments teams have made such as the men’s basketball team being back-to-back Southern Athletic Association (SAA) Champions, 14 members of the football team gaining positions on the 2021 SAA’s All-Conference Team and six members of the women’s volleyball team being selected to the NCAA Division III 2021 fall All-American Team.
Success is not a rare find in Berry College sports, yet athletes and coaches have differing views on what factors went into these successful seasons. Some believe that the routines and superstitions they practice before their matches led to their success and are the prerequisites for their victories. However, others find these routines were just that; routines that make them feel more comfortable in stressful environments so they can perform at their best.
Sophomore Angelle Thornton is a member of Berry College’s Women’s Tennis Team. In her time as a college athlete, she has been awarded the SAA Academic Honor Roll and remains undefeated in Singles Matches in the 2021-2022 season.
Thornton said that she believes in superstitions.
“If I am serving in a match and I win a point, I have to serve the next point with the same ball I won the first point off of,” Thornton said.
She said she follows this practice until she loses a point or the game ends and that she practices it on every occasion from playing in practice to playing in a conference match.
Thornton said she follows one more superstition when she is winning a match.
“When I’m winning,” Thornton said. “I will continue to do whatever it was I was doing before I started winning.”
Thornton says that she developed this superstition when she was in high school and continued when she started to compete at a higher level. Thornton said that these behaviors would aggravate her opponents, allowing her further advantages during the matches.
Junior Charlie Sims, football defensive lineman, also started following his own superstitions in high school. He would wear the same shirt and compression shorts for his games and would follow the same routine before each game.
“When we had away games, I’d fall asleep on the way to there and on the way back, without fail,” Sims said.
In college, his superstitions have gotten more specific. He would check his cleats three times and when he is in the locker room, he would take time for himself and pray. For him, these routines are not just superstitions. He does not do them for ‘luck.’ They also make him feel more comfortable before he goes on the field to play his game.
Head Football Coach Tony Kunczewski has led the team to multiple championships including the SAA Championship in 2017, which was the program’s fourth year of existing.
Kunczewski said that superstitions do not compare to the challenging work he and his players put in and the skill it takes to reach the levels they have performed.
“The harder you work, the luckier you get,” Kunczewski said.
When Kunczewski was a player in high school and college, he wore the same shirt under his pads and that he always called heads on coin flips. He said that those were less superstitions and more of him being a creature of habit. The routines he practiced helped him feel prepared for whatever challenge was ahead of him.
When looking at these routines or superstitions, they all allowed the player or coach to feel more comfortable when they were in action. They take away a level of stress that comes with the positions they are in. These players and coaches prove that the only difference between a routine or a superstition is the name.