Coaches share secrets to winning seasons
Coaches and players everywhere have their own unique superstitions and pre-game rituals. From basketball to softball, coaches have their own unique recipes for victory.
Superstitions for most coaches are good luck and by doing the same rituals, some believe it will bring them many wins. Most coaches do these rituals to “guarantee” a win, or just because they have done it forever.
World History teacher Neil Dittmer, assistant football coach and head softball coach, has many superstitions.
“For football, I have to eat a six-inch Subway turkey and bacon with a Diet Coke, I’m the only one who can touch the footballs pre-game when setting up the field, I have to put my dad’s State Runner-Up ring in my back left pocket before the game and during the game I have to change gum every quarter,” said Dittmer.
Softball brings a whole new ritual to Dittmer.
“For softball, I can’t eat the whole day before the game, I have to write my dad’s initials in the dirt behind third base every inning, I wear the same clothes during a winning streak, I change gum every half inning and have to drink a purple Powerade,” said Dittmer.
Dittmer is not the only coach who has odd superstitions. Head girls basketball coach Don Helmick also has some superstitions, too. Most of them originated at his previous job at Cascade High School.
“In the past I have always taken a shower during the third quarter of the JV game. I always wear the same pair of shoes every first game of the year. I used to wear them every game, but they are not in the best shape and the dog has chewed on them,” said Helmick.
During Sectional, Helmick wears a Monrovia Hall of Fame Classic sleeveless t-shirt from 1999 under a pullover for good luck.
“At Cascade I would always have Panda Express before every game, softball or basketball. I always wore a baseball pullover during softball county games and if we get on a winning streak, I will not trim my goatee down,” said Helmick. “Other than that, I am pretty normal.”
Head boys basketball coach Dusty Cole also has some unusual rituals. When Cole was a player, he recalls many superstitions he upheld along with some he has today.
“As a player, I always put my shorts on backwards for warm ups, then when we went in for our last pre-game talk, I would change them around. I did this by accident one time and played really well, and it stuck. I just continued to do it,” said Cole. “I always left my shooting shirt on until game time and prayed during the National Anthem. We always had a team prayer before taking the floor and I always wore the same socks and undershirt.”
Cole’s upholding of rituals carries on into his coaching career. But, some of them are different from when he was a player.
“Now that I coach, I always take a shower before a game, wear ‘Lucky’ cologne, pray during the National Anthem and always begin a game by sitting down a couple of possessions before walking the sidelines,” said Cole.
To end his plethora of pre-game rituals, Cole always has a talk with the team about to take the floor.
“I always write down pre-game plans, goals and key points on the marker board and go over them with the team. This always ends with emphasizing rebounding,” said Cole.
There is no doubt some of the coaches at PHS have unique superstitions. Many feel the reason for these is to help them win the game ahead. If it works and they win, these odd superstitions may not be considered so odd anymore. They could possibly be considered by everyone, an extra bit of luck to win. As the saying goes, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.
Head softball and assistant football coach Neil Dittmer on the sidelines this season. Photo by Lily Thompson
Story by: Garrett Vincent