No black cats: team relies on superstition

Paul Tenorio

Softball

When the National Hockey League approaches its postseason, many of its players refuse to shave their beards as a superstition.

Northwestern takes it to a whole new level.

“There are so many (superstitions), it’s such a natural part of our day that I can’t even articulate all of them,” senior Erin Mobley said.

The rituals range from coach Kate Drohan not touching any bats during the team’s undefeated streak earlier this year to the Cats ordering the same thing every morning before home games during team breakfasts at Le Peep in Evanston. Drohan said she has to have bacon every morning before a game.

But it doesn’t end there.

Drohan tapes a penny inside her left shoe during every game. Mobley gave her the penny at the beginning of the Big Ten season because she found the coin heads up. Now it is held down by medical tape in the shoes that Drohan wears every game.

“I think (superstitions) start when you’re a player,” Drohan said. “I’d go through a routine as a player and it’s a routine that’s gotten carried away.”

Players say they have to sit in the same seats on the bus, and it becomes a “big deal” when someone sits in your seat. Drohan said the WNUR play-by-play announcers who ride with the team make keeping the normal order more difficult.

Junior Jamie Dotson said the team is not allowed to eat at a certain restaurant in Ann Arbor, Mich., because they lost a game after eating there last year. This weekend, Drohan said the Cats plan to stop at a restaurant where they ate during a rain delay last season.

The team won its game after that meal.

Usually NU will not stay in a certain hotel if it lost games after staying there, though this weekend the Cats will be in the same hotel in Ann Arbor, Mich., as they were last weekend when Michigan swept them.

“It’s a little tougher (to switch hotels) with the tournament because it’s arranged,” Drohan said.

Players also pointed out that they have to follow routines when getting ready for games. The routines are as detailed as wearing their hair a certain way, standing in a certain spot in line during warm-ups and seating in the dugout.

But not all team members are superstitious.

“I don’t have any,” junior pitcher Courtnay Foster said. “I don’t believe in them. (The team) just (does) their own thing and I do my own thing, and we respect each other.”

But associate head coach Caryl Drohan said she and Foster have used the same pencil to take notes during each game the entire year.

“It’s pretty crazy,” Caryl Drohan said. “I think it’s a comfort level thing.”

The team even plays certain songs, including the NU fight song, when they are on the bus.

And while the team isn’t capable of growing beards like the NHL players, it certainly doesn’t make their superstitions any less important.

“If I was an NHL player and could grow a beard, I would do that too,” Caryl Drohan said. “That’s how superstitious I am.”

Reach Paul Tenorio at [email protected]