By Adam Guyden, COM 250 Reporter
Edited by Zoe Wooten, COM 303 Editor
MOUNT BERRY, Ga.- There has always been a relationship between superstitions and sports but the members of the Berry College Athletics Department have a different take on this 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 accomplishments such as the Men’s Basketball Team’s back-to-back Southern Athletic Association (SAA) championship titles, the Football Team’s 14 members on the SAA’s 2021 All-Conference Team and the Women’s Volleyball Team’s six members selected to the NCAA Division III 2021 Fall All-American Team. Success is not a rare finding in Berry College sports, yet athletes and coaches have differing views on what factors contributed to these successful seasons. Some said they believe the routines and superstitions practiced before their matches led to their success and are the prerequisites for their victories. However, others find these routines were nothing more than practices to make them feel more comfortable in stressful environments so they can perform their best.
Angelle Thorton is a member of Berry College’s Women’s Tennis Team. In her time as a college athlete, she achieved the SAA’s Academic Honor Roll and remained undefeated in singles matches in the 2021-22 season.
Thorton said she does practice 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,” Thorton said.
She said she follows this practice until she loses a point or the game ends, and that she does this on every occasion from practices to conference matches.
She said she follows one more superstition when she is winning a match.
“When I’m winning, I will continue to do whatever it was I was doing before I started winning,” Thorton said.
She developed this superstition in high school and continued it when she started competing at a higher level. Thorton said she thinks these behaviors aggravate her opponents, allowing her further advantages during matches.
Charlie Sims, another Berry student-athlete, started following his superstitions in high school. He would wear the same shirt and compression shorts for his games and follow the same routines each time.
“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 checks his cleats three times and takes time for himself to pray when he is in the locker room. He does not practice these routines for ‘luck,’ rather they make him feel more comfortable before going on the field to play his games.
Tony Kunczewski, head football coach at Berry since 2012, has led the team to many victories including multiple SAA championship titles.
Kunczewski said superstitions do not compare to the hard work he and his players put in and the skill required to reach their high levels of performance.
“The harder you work,” Kunczewski said, “The luckier you get.”
When he was a football player in high school and college, Kunczewski said he would wear the same shirt under his pads and always call heads on coin tosses. He said those practices were less the result of superstition and more of him being a creature of habit. The routines he practiced helped him feel prepared for whatever challenge he faced.
Regardless of the name, some Berry College athletes continue to practice these routines or superstitions to feel comfortable in action, alleviate stress and play their best.