By Jack Milewski,
GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Athletes are creatures of habit. They almost have to be. Anytime you perform the same motion, whether it be shooting a basketball, kicking a soccer ball, or taking a slap shot in hockey, you have to repeat the same thing over and over. Many athletes take this concept and practice it off the court, field, or ice. Pregame rituals are a big part of the sports world and the Nittany Lion women's hockey team is no different when it comes to this.
Hours before the puck drops, all is silent at Pegula Ice Arena. The arena staff is making the last minute preparations to the ice and others are preparing to open the front doors. At this same time, you will also find some of the Nittany Lion players in the stands behind their home bench. For them, this is one of the many pregame rituals that they practice.
"I always tape my stick before a game," said senior captain Shannon Yoxheimer. "Whether I actually need to or not, I still do, just because that's always how I have been doing it."
For some it is as simple as taping their sticks. Be it in the stands or in the locker room, that seems to be a common routine for many players. Yoxheimer says that some people ae very particular and like to tape their own sticks, while others prefer if someone tapes it for them. For other players, like junior defenseman Kelly Seward, her pregame ritual involves a snack.
"Some people like to play soccer or do something active before the game," said Seward. "I just like to grab a couple snacks and relax. I usually have the same thing before every game, they are these little smoothie packets."
Seward also says that she gets dressed right at the 54 minute mark before the game and says he has been doing that for years now. But her dressing 54 minutes before the game is nothing compared to teammate Micayla Catanzariti, who gets dressed very early according to both her teammates and coach.
"Micayla always gets dressed really really early," said Seward. "You can always see her well before the game with her big headphones on just getting in the zone."
While many of the players on the team choose to partake in their own unique pregame rituals, the Penn State women's hockey team also has some routines that include the majority, if not everyone on the team. Before every Friday contest, the team has a pregame meal ritual.
"Well we go to Allen Street Grill every Friday at 2:15," said Seward. "I think that is our team time to get together and get ready. After that I think everyone pretty much goes back, gets a nap in and relaxes."
Another, possibly less unique, but still equally vital part of every game day, is coffee. Both the team and head coach Josh Brandwene voiced that coffee is essentially in providing a little extra boost before games.
"Coffee is a big part of the routine for me," said Brandwene. "It's all about the timing of caffeine intake. It's different timing for a seven o'clock start than for a two o'clock start. And after the game you have a night of film review, so by the time Saturday rolls around caffeine kind of becomes a best friend."
Yoxheimer had a similar reaction, saying that the majority of the team, to her knowledge, uses coffee as an energy booster on game day.
"I always get a coffee before games," said Yoxheimer. "I think that's kind of standard and the norm for almost everyone on our team."
Whether it being playing soccer in a small group, or re-taping a stick before the game, the Penn State women's hockey team participates in many unique pregame rituals. At times it is the whole team together and at times it is simply something unique that an individual has been doing for years. Either way, for Penn State women's hockey, the pregame routine is just another part of the game.