Erik Soderlund: LU Baseball team superstitions and quirks

 

As many students took some well-needed time off during Spring Break, many athletes did the opposite. Some of those athletes were members of the men’s baseball team, who took their yearly trip down to southwestern Florida to compete in the Gene Cusic classic. While playing mostly out of conference opponents, the Vikings boasted a stellar 6-3 record over the break.

So, upon their return home I met up with sophomore pitcher Atley Gay and a few other players to get some insight on the team.

Atley Gay is one of four starting pitchers. Along with sophomores Andrew “Stork” Doares, Kelton Jenkins, and senior Alex Brewer, they collectively split four game weekends with a start a piece. I sat down to interview Gay about his habits, superstitions and quirks in the locker room and on the field during game days.

Gay mentioned before the interview that he is a pretty superstitious guy. “When I get to the locker-room the first thing I do is put on my undergarments, which is the same pair of compression shorts and shirt throughout the season. I do not change them unless something bad happens while I play in them, then I have to switch it up,” says Gay. As he and the rest of the team get fully dressed, they listen to the same CD getting pumped up before games. The CD plays until sophomore Joel Birch interrupts and plays “Dancar Kuduro” by Don Omar. “Last year the song was ‘Call Me Maybe’ until Sam Kossow put an end to that and broke the CD,” adds Atley Gay as he smiles at the memory.

Gay says he doesn’t stay in the locker room long. He likes to get dressed quickly and get on the field as soon as possible. But not until he grabs a piece of gum, the same piece of gum he chews all game without spitting it out, claims Gay — unless the tables start turning, then he has to grab a new piece.

When the team is assembled and ready to take the field, they huddle for some encouraging words by the coach and team captains. Then they proceed to break it down with some humorous “Workaholics” references and some variation of a pre-game chant. Certain players break it down extra hard, pumping them and their teammates up. Junior Sam Kossow and sophomore Jake Zdrojewski use some crazier antics and handshakes to get the team going a little extra before entering the field.

Gay let us in on some of his in-game superstitions as well. “As I walk on the field I make sure to avoid stepping on any of the chalk lines. I always make sure to line up on the left side of the rubber once on the mound.” He continues, “When we were in Florida this year I left my hotel key in my back pocket and I gave it to Zdrojewski, then when we got back home and played, it happened again. Now that’s going to have to be one of my superstitions”.

Also of note, each player on the team receives their own team jacket at the beginning of the year. The final quirk Gay revealed deals with his dugout routine. When he needs to keep his arm warm on the bench, “though each one of us have our own team jackets, for some reason I don’t know, I always grab Davis Ogilvie’s to keep my arm warm in-between innings”.

 

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