SUPERSTITIONS, HABITS, RITUALS,
AND A FEW MULES THROWN IN
by: Eddie Trapp
Many coaches have superstitions, habits, or rituals before a game. There is a thin line between any two of the three behaviors. While watching TCU football a few times this year I noticed Coach Patterson untie and re-tie his shoes a lot. Even more than that, every few seconds he pulled his pants up. Those two “habits” are what inspired me to research the subject. Here are a few more quirks I found about other coaches. The year LSU won the national championship, Coach Les Miles was given a penny by his daughter before he left for each game. For some games she would not be home when he left and he would have her meet him in the stadium with his penny before the game. The penny worked fourteen times in a row.
Probably the biggest ritual is not changing some item of clothing. Wear the same thing until you lose a game. Mike Leach wears the same old belt and gets a B 12 shot before every game. His team won the first time he tried the injection and the assistant coaches “made” him take one from then on. He said he didn’t believe the shot worked; he just did it so the assistants would be more confident and relaxed. According to the internet the referee came into the dressing room before a game and there was Coach Leach bent over a training table with his hiney shining and a doctor giving him a B 12 shot. Some coaches, and even entire teams, eat the same thing for their pregame meal until they lose. Lou Holtz always had a vanilla milkshake before a game.
Certainly, football is not the only sport where superstitions, habits, or rituals are performed. Tiger Woods always wears a red shirt on Sundays. Many golfers think balls numbered above four are unlucky. In baseball many players avoid stepping on chalk lines and don’t cross bats. Babe Ruth hated butterflies around home plate and killed them at every chance. Wade Boggs ate chicken before every game. Hockey players avoid crossing hockey sticks.
The only “ritual” I have but it doesn’t concern sports or coaching, is for years, and I don’t even remember when it started, I have put on my left shoe/boot first. Doesn’t matter about taking them off. It seems to me superstitions, rituals, and habits just give a person an organized feeling and confidence. Like you are doing all you can to succeed. Do you have something “silly” you do at times?
The decorations in Doctors Creek Park seemed better than ever this year. What a lot of hard work many people did! Very beautiful and I’m sure other communities and towns were the same. The only parade I was able to attend Saturday was the one at Charleston with its usual mix of bicycles, dirt bikes, horses, four wheelers, fire trucks, antique cars, a covered wagon pulled by mules, and two and a half year old winner of several beauty pageants, tiny Della Grace Speulda. Della rode on the back of John Jackson’s Camaro convertible.
The covered wagon and mules were owned and operated by the Bobby Huie Family, made up of Lainey, Jake, Debbie and Bobby. The wagon looked very new and Bobby said it was bought in the Como area. Weatherproof sides could be let down or rolled up. A tiny bathroom was in a back corner. A couch made down into a bed. Several lounge type chairs.
As Bobby, Don Smith, and I admired the wagon and mules after the parade, Don told of his grandpa, Charlie Smith, farming a lot of land north of Vasco. The mules had gone down the rows so many times over the years that they could be put on “automatic pilot” similar to some modern day tractors with their fancy GPS systems. Don remembers the mules pulling a tumbling stalk cutter. His grandpa would get them pointed in the right direction, tie up the reins, and send them down the rows. At the other end they would turn around and come back by themselves. Would do that for hours. Later, after lunch in the community center, we resumed mule and farming stories. Thomas Peters pulled up a chair and told of two brothers, Ben and Slick Blount, bedding land. The furrows were deep and one of them would put a tractor tire in a furrow and turn the tractor loose. The other brother would be waiting at the other end, turn the tractor around, and send it back.
Don felt his story about the mules turning around by themselves was about to be topped so he told of Carl Lile hooking a sled behind a mule. Everyone had sleds back in the old days. Carl tied his cotton sack on the sled, started the mule down a row, and picked cotton while sitting on the sled. Don came by, saw the operation, then went to tell some people that Carl had a new “cotton picker.” They went down to see, thinking it was an expensive machine. Send in your early day farming stories.
December 14 Mars is to the left of the Moon low in the southwest about forty five minutes after sunset. December 21 winter arrives at 5:12 a.m. CST. The Sun appears further south for a few days than any time in the year. Soon it will start heading back north and cross the equator on the first day of spring three months later. December 24-25 Jupiter continues to be the bright planet in the east and will be close to the Moon. At their closest to each other they will be a finger width apart with your arm extended. Many people will no doubt call it the Christmas “star” in the east.
A teacher was checking to see if a little boy knew how to count. She asked him what came after a three, then a five, then a nine and he got them all correct. She asked him who taught him his numbers and he said his daddy. The teacher said the daddy did a great job and then asked the boy what came after ten and he said, “A jack.”