Maybe it was Mitchell Frank’s cotton t-shirt that helped the UVA men’s tennis team to its first national championship this season. Perhaps Gloria Douglas’ pregame peanut-butter-and-banana-sandwiches played a crucial role in the women’s soccer team’s ACC title. Who’s to say? But these current and former Cavaliers across various sports are a few who admit to holding numerous superstitions, or what some of them call “pregame rituals.”

Ian Frye (Col ’15)
Placekicker, Football
“Every game, I tie the right shoe first and then the left, and the laces and the socks have to be just right. I start on one side of the field and have a very orderly warm-up routine. For kickoffs, there’s only one block that I’ll use. I’ve marked it with a piece of tape and I get frantic if I can’t find it.” Jim Daves

Heidi Velk (Col ’15)
Outfielder, Softball
“I develop new superstitions every game, depending on how I do my first at-bat. If I put my left batting glove on first and get a hit, then I’ll do that the rest of the game. The way I rub the dirt, my warm-up, how many cuts I take on deck—all those things—if I don’t do these, it’s something to blame if I mess up. You think, ‘It’s because I put my right batting glove on first,’ instead of, ‘No, you just missed the ball.’” Jim Daves

Stephen Bruno (Col ’13)
Former UVA baseball player, now with the Daytona Cubs, a minor league Chicago Cubs affiliate
There was a bat that I used all year and pine-tarred it every day. I had to put my glove and hat in a certain spot in the dugout. Before batting, I’d kiss my bat up and down 11 times on the leg area of the bat. I realize that’s funny looking so I did it in the dugout rather than the on-deck circle. I have a theory where, in order for the bat to treat you right, you have to treat the bat right. I used to sleep with my bat every night. Sometimes, I still do.”

Teven Jones (Col ’16)
Guard, Men’s Basketball
“Before every game, I go in the training room first and get in the cold tub, because sometimes when I’m nervous, my legs are shaky, so I get in to calm them down. While I’m there, I read a couple of Bible verses and listen to gospel music. Then I go into the gym. I have to shoot 25-30 shots and I have to hit 10 free throws in a row. Then I go back to the locker room and listen to rap or hip-hop. Jim Daves

Sydney Umeri (Col ’17)
Forward, Women’s Basketball
“In almost every game, I have to play with a headband. If I don’t have a headband on, I feel off. I don’t like the super-thin ones—I prefer the thick ones. Also, I always put on my left sock first. And I have to have socks that say ‘left’ on my left foot and ‘right’ on my right foot.”

Gloria Douglas (Col ’14)
Forward, Women’s Soccer
“I always put my right shin guard on first and then my left. I have a peanut-butter-and-banana sandwich right before a game. I have a pair of Under Armour shorts that I always wear under my shorts. During the national anthem, I say a quick prayer.” Jim Daves

Mitchell Frank (Col ’15)
Men’s Tennis
“On match days, I can’t wake up when the time ends in a ‘0’ or a ‘5.’ I don’t know why, it’s a mental thing. If I win, I always eat at the same restaurant and order the same dish the night before the next match. My favorite is Tara Thai—I always order a pad see ew dish. When I order that, I feel like I’ll win. I sometimes watch Blades of Glory the night before my matches. I don’t know why, but it gets me pumped … I always have to wear a hat on the court, because a couple of the matches that I’ve lost, I haven’t had a hat on. I have to wear a normal, dry-fit shirt for singles and a cotton shirt for doubles.”

Stephanie Nauta (Col ’16)
Women’s Tennis
“I’m a pretty superstitious person. We have an orange, rubber team bracelet that reads: “Fight VA, we will.” The words have faded off, but I still wear it on my left wrist. On court, before I serve, I bounce the ball a certain way: in front of the line, then outside of the line and then on the line.”