Friday the 13th is widely considered to be one of the unluckiest and most superstitious days of the year. Rituals and superstitions are no stranger to the world of sports, as many athletes have superstitions that they believe bring luck, heightened mental preparation and success. As today is Friday the 13th, we asked some of our athletes their superstitions and rituals during events and practice that help calm their nerves, and perform at a high level.
Samantha “Murphy” Bromberg and Cheyenne Cousineau
Back in May at the World Championship Trials, Cheyenne asked her synchro partner what she wanted to wear for their competition. Murphy told her that she had a thing for competing in blue suits, so blue it was. Murphy also wanted to wear the blue suits in Barcelona at the World Championships. Finally, at the AT&T National Diving Championships in August, Cheyenne told Murphy she had to get over wearing blue suits and said they should compete in red suits, which they did in the synchronized 10-meter preliminaries. Although they finished first in the prelims, they weren’t happy with their performance and decided they needed to bring the blue suits back out for the finals. They ended up winning their first national title together, and Murphy sold Cheyenne on the concept of the blue suit. “Now I don’t want to compete in that red suit anymore either,” Cousineau said.
When I was club diving with Doe and Julian Krug at Pitt Aquatic Club I had so many superstitions that I couldn’t even count them on all my fingers and all my toes. For example, before every single meet I watched the same movie the night before, I only ate one s’mores pop-tart the morning of competition, I listened to “Let’s Get it Started” by Black Eyed Peas during every competition while reading the same book (Twilight) at every meet. I used the same shammy and wore the same flip-flops at every meet. I used to wear the same swimsuit, but that ended after a few months when I wanted to buy cooler looking suits. I even had a few when I came to college at the University of Arizona, like throwing my shammy down from 3m the same way each time I did an inward dive. However my coaches, Michele Mitchell and Omar Ojeda, very quickly broke those superstitions. But I still have to take my “lucky pillow” to every away meet I go to, be it college or USA Diving.
I have used the same towel during every competition for the last 3 years. It is orange with colored stripes. I love bright colors and this particular towel has always been one of my favorites.
“Orangie” the towel made its first appearance with me at the 2011 Spring Junior West National Championships during the 11-and-under 3-meter event, and I won my first ever national gold medal. For the next day’s 1-meter event, I thought it would be a good idea to stick to the same routine, including using the same orange towel. And once again, I won gold.
After that, I thought it would be a great idea to use Orangie during every competition I entered. That summer, I used it at regionals and had my personal best score on platform and won all three of my events. At the zone meet, I had my personal best score on 1-meter and won all three of my events. The trend continued at the 2011 Junior National Championships where I won gold on platform and came back from 12th place to 2nd on 3-meter. I was thrilled to be a member of Team USA heading to the Junior Pan Am Championships in Medellin, Colombia. Although we were provided a nice towel, I couldn’t leave Orangie behind. And once again, it worked its magic. I won my first ever international medal, a silver medal on 3-meter. 2011 ended when I used Orangie when I entered my first senior national preliminary in Knoxville.
I continued to use Orangie throughout the 2012 and 2013 diving season. Although I don’t always take home gold, it’s a comfort knowing that my old friend is there keep me warm and to share in my experience. And YES, Orangie will be coming with me to the 2013 Junior Pan American Championships in Tucson, Ariz., at the end of this month.
Okay, well, I guess it all started when I was about 9 years old, or at least that’s as far back as I can remember, me getting superstitious.
I am still especially superstitious when meets come up or when I have to do a dive that makes me antsy. I really enjoy competing; I just get super antsy when I’m at meets. I know that after I’ve talked to my coach before my next dive at meets, I walk off, wet my shammy, do a little stretch routine and shake out my ankles, right, left, right. I adjust my suit dozens of times in the process, hence, the fidgeting, and dry off a certain way. It’s probably habit to dry off that way by now, but it’s still the same exact way every time at both practice and meets. Then I squeeze a little bit of water between my thighs and dry off my shins again, walk up the ladder, adjust my suit a couple more times (yes, I am incredibly obsessive about having it fit just right), and get ready to go. When I’m walking up to the board I pinch my nose to wipe the water off, step on the board, and do this awkward half-squat knee bend thing right before I go. My thighs stick together otherwise and it’s uncomfortable when walking down the board for a dive.
Although I’ve been superstitious for so long, I don’t think anything severely horrible has ever happened if I didn’t follow this certain routine. Sometimes I would forget to do it a particular way or would walk up for my turn at a meet a bit late and didn’t have the chance to do it. Nothing bad happened at all. I guess being superstitious is just some quirky part of me that’s been there from the beginning!