Athletes must perform at their best every time they step onto the field, even if that means believing in strange things that could help them win.
Everything Must Be Perfect
Before every football game, senior Mitchell Tyler asks nearly the whole locker room if he should wear tights underneath his jersey. If they don’t feel right, and other people don’t think he should wear them, it “freaks him out.”
For Tyler, everything has to be perfect. Before the Olathe Northwest game, one of Tyler’s wrists was taped by the trainer, and the other by somebody else. One wrist was tighter than the other; they weren’t equal. They weren’t done by the same person. He would think about it the whole game. It would make him play worse. It wasn’t the same as the week before. Something bad could happen. It was starting to freak him out. He couldn’t deal with it. So after warm ups, he had to take them completely off and have the trainer redo them.
“One thing doesn’t throw me off that much if it’s, like, a little thing, and I don’t notice,” Tyler said. “It’s the combination of everything that if it all isn’t right, I just freak out”
Why does he do this? Well, he doesn’t really know. He just gets edgy, feels worried and panics.
“If we won the week before, I have to do the same thing,” Tyler said. “Because if we lose the next week or something goes wrong I’ll just be like ‘dang it, why didn’t I wear that?’ So I just have to do the same things.“
Before every game, he’ll joke around with senior running back Luke Taylor. Taylor will always laugh at Tyler for being so uptight before every game. Then he’ll go inside and get his wrists taped. Then he’ll put his shoes on that have to feel loose and comfortable. Then he’ll go back out and kick field goals. Then he’ll practice kickoffs. It’s all a process. Everything has to be perfect. Everything has to be the same.
Must Wear a Green Headband
The faint green can be seen in the hair of girls’ soccer team players from the stands. Through the rain, through the sun, practice and games, green headbands are worn.
It all started during a club soccer game for some of the senior players. It just so happened that during an important game, all six of the East girls on the team wore green headbands. They say the headbands allowed them to win the game. Thus, a tradition started.
According to the girls, most athletic girls own more than a few varieties and colors of headbands. So, the girls realized that it must have been something more than dumb luck for them to wear the same exact headband to such an intense game. They believe that the luck of the green will continue if they are worn to every game.
“We wear them to every club and high school game,” senior Victoria Sabates said. “We don’t really know why, but we do. And it’s good luck.”
This tradition doesn’t seem to be stopping soon either, as some of the younger soccer players have adopted this superstition. This means that the tradition of the green headbands will carry on.
“It may just be because we’re weird,” senior AnnaMarie Oakley said. “But, as long as we keep winning, the green headbands will keep giving us good luck. And we’ll keep wearing them.”
A tradition that has been at East for over 25 years. A secret among all that have participated. An event looked forward to by cross country runners every Friday. An occasion that is considered “sacred” by those who participate. A code that requires sworn secrecy to those that take part. Every Friday, the boys cross country team runs to a location to carry on this ancient tradition: The Horse Run.
Insko was a thoroughbred racehorse in the early 1930s, that competed in the Kentucky Derby. Insko was never able to place in the top three. Yet, his son, Lawrin, became the only horse from Kansas to win the Kentucky Derby in 1938. These two horses are buried in a cul-de-sac inside the housing community “Corinth Downs,” near 81 and Mission Rd.
In the runners’ minds, it is fitting that, because cross country runners race at a high caliber, the team goes to visit the fastest living thing to come out of Kansas. This serves as a foundation to the tradition.
“It’s odd that two of the fastest horses ever in Kansas [history] happen to be right here,” said cross country runner Joseph Tortellini.* “It’s funny because we’re runners, and they’re runners. That’s at least how the tradition started, and what the basis of the tradition is.”
Yet, all of this is common knowledge to anyone at East. But what happens once the runners have arrived at the horses’ graves is the classified part of the story.
“It’s all very strange, and very secretive,” former cross country runner Bart Toweldweller *said. “These traditions date back for a long time, and are kept true to this day.”
In order to find out the rest of the tradition, one must join the boys’ cross country team. The runners are sworn into secrecy the minute they set foot on that “sacred ground,” and are unwilling to give up any information. Yet in the meantime, the tradition of the horse run will continue.
“It’s always been thought that the tradition brings good luck,” Toweldweller said. “It will continue to bring us good luck as long as the tradition continues.”
*Names changed to protect identity