Locker room antics meet the stereotype

Basketball, Rotator — By on March 2, 2015 6:51 pm

By Luke Maddock

Walking through the locker room before a varsity boys basketball game, the place might seem like a madhouse to an outsider. From the goofy antics of seniors Nolan Teubel and Andy DeCamp to the discussion of strategy from Coach Wes Bruns to the calm, composed demeanor of junior Connor Herrmann, the locker room is a composition of emotion, nerves, and excitement. What goes on inside the closed doors is a complete mystery to all not involved. How the players transform mentally and physically from regular high school students to varsity athletes is a process seen and mastered only by the players themselves.

Exploring the Mount Vernon boys varsity team further, the experience is one to behold. Loud rap music is playing out of a speaker for all to hear when the players first enter, while many athletes choose to listen to their own styles of music privately through headphones of all sizes. Nolan Teubel will walk around and joke with everyone to keep the atmosphere and mood light. Junior Adam Ketelsen and Connor Herrmann will head to the halls or find space in the locker room for themselves to focus in on the task ahead of themselves.

While getting dressed, lucky socks are put on, small rituals are performed, and accessories to injuries are applied. The starters and role players discuss tactics and last minute adjustments towards the game that is just mere minutes from beginning. Once all the necessary preparations are made, the team heads out onto the floor to start their warm ups, only to return around the six minute mark to go over things one last time. There, Coach Bruns addresses his team on the opposition’s starters’ strengths and weaknesses and how he wants his players to compete hard, tough, and smart. From there, it’s game on.

The antics of the locker room have been around for years. On television, one can watch stereotypical jocks walk around and snap people with towels or play cruel tricks on one another. Honestly, there isn’t that big of a gap between that and reality. Whether it’s hiding shoes in the ceiling or throwing ice on one another in the shower or putting locks on backwards, there are countless ways of messing with a teammate. Some of these tricks result in some hot blooded hostility, but rarely does it grow past harsh words and insults. The boys basketball team participates in their fair share of jokes, often leading to small scraps or spats between a pair of teammates.

One instance left junior Nick Bevans angered after finding that his shoes had been hidden throughout the lockers, leaving him without a right shoe for almost two days. He said he coped by wearing a different pair. Another stunt that is pulled around the locker room involves players jerseys being stolen and hidden from them until the point of panic, only to be given back just before the threat of violence or real trouble. These may seem extreme or drastic to some, but to any athlete that has gone through a full season in the school, it’s just another way to entertain each other.

Not everything that goes on in before a game is comical. Many times, players instead take the time to listen to music, perform their normal rituals, stretch, or just think about their upcoming performance. The few moments just before a game are the most excruciating, with the nervousness taking its toll with every dragging minute of the junior varsity game slowly coming to an end. “Those last minutes before warm ups are the worst,” said junior Joe Corcoran, one of the starting members of the varsity basketball team. “Everything about the game rushes through your head and all you want to do is start playing.”  Making the transition from everyday student to competitor is not an easy one, but most athletes have learned some tricks that help them focus and zone in on the correct mindset.

The essence of pre-game has been around forever. Getting ready to perform well is a practice followed as early as the ancient Olympic games. Just preparing for anything is one of those functions that comes so naturally to humans, whether it’s studying for tests or psyching one another up for a big game. Anyone who has been through this kind of preparation knows that it’s all about controlling emotions and keeping oneself focused and ready to play. The nervousness, insecurity, dread, fear, and anxiety are all matched by hope, excitement, confidence, and genuine love for the game. Probably the hardest job an athlete has is quelling those feelings and focusing on the challenge ahead of them. Ask anyone has played in a playoff game or finals match or elimination round and they’ll all tell you one thing: the emotions present before competing were off the charts. To some, it’s the best part of the game. Others can’t stand the wait. But ultimately, the preparation before the game is as important as the game itself.

 

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