It’s only weird if it doesn’t work: BYU athletes hold superstitions too

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Tiger Woods wears an iconic red shirt. Michael Jordan wore his college shorts beneath his Chicago Bulls jersey. And BYU basketball star Tyler Haws has his shoelaces.

Athletes everywhere have their own set of superstitious behavior when it comes to their sports. BYU athletes are no different when it comes to personalized rituals they hope will guarantee their best possible performances.

Superstitious intramural player and BYU fan Harper Anderson dons his lucky frame only glasses. Photo illustration by Sarah Hill
Superstitious intramural player and BYU fan Harper Anderson dons his lucky frame only glasses. Photo illustration by Sarah Hill

“I tie my shoes seven or eight times before each game,” said Haws, a junior guard who is expected to break school scoring records by his senior year. “I hate it coming undone.”

Haws, who finished 17th nationally in free throw percentage last season, also credits a degree of superstition for his accuracy at the stripe.

“I find the nail in the court at the free throw line and line up four boards to the right,” he said.

Matt Carlino, a junior guard, has his own pre-game video game routine that helps calm his nerves.

“Last year, I would play FIFA’13 pretty much right up to the game,” Carlino said. “I would just play with anyone on my team.”

The BYU women’s basketball team gathers around hit television shows such as “Nashville,” “Once Upon a Time” and “The Walking Dead” as a pre-game ritual.

“We watch Netflix before every game as a team,” said Xojian Harry, a guard on thel team. “If anyone watches ahead, we get mad at them.”

Harry also has a routine at the free throw line that keeps her focused.

“I come up to the line, square my feet, pull up my shorts, flip the ball, let it land, then I spin it in my hand and line it up so the Wilson is right-side up in the middle of the ball,” Harry said. “I have to do it every single time. If I don’t, it doesn’t feel right.”

Carlino named Haws and fellow junior Anson Winder as the most superstitious members of the men’s basketball team.

Winder wears the same undershirt for every game.

“I just didn’t play as well,” Winder, a guard from Las Vegas, said of a game last season when he decided not to wear it.

Winder said he also needs a nap every game day, and it can’t be too long or too short.

“I take a nap before every game,” Winder said. “Thirty minutes to an hour.”

Jaylen Reyes, a junior libero on men’s volleyball team, is known as one of the most superstitious athletes at BYU.

Reyes, a native of Hawaii, puts on his left sock, left kneepad, left shoe and ties it, then follows suit with his right side before every game.

Reyes’ superstition, however, extends much further than when he suits up to play. His rituals begin the afternoon of a game, and continue during the match. After picking up a Jamba Juice at exactly 3 p.m. on game day, Reyes continues to take his refreshment very seriously during game time.

“Everyone likes to have Gatorade and Powerade in their water bottles. I like to have water in mine. I’ll even ask the student trainers to put water in mine, even though most of the time, I grab a cup,” Reyes said.

In and of itself, preferring water over Gatorade or Powerade may not seem superstitious. But Reyes takes it a step further when the Cougars are winning.

“I grab a cup. I’ll drink from the cup. If we’re playing well, I’ll put that cup behind our head coach’s chair right behind the bench,” Reyes said. “Whenever we win a set, I’ll move that cup when we switch sides. I’ll make sure that cup is there that entire time.”

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