Pregame rituals play a huge part in sports with many athletes developing their own unique routines that they follow to prepare physically and mentally for a game. For members of the University of Colorado’s Division II club hockey team, pregame preparation is one of the keys to performing at their best.
“(Rituals get) the person in the right space mentally,” said Ranger Beguelin, a CU goaltender and graduate student. “And if the team is in that mentality, that’s how you’re going to win games.”
Mental preparation and being focused on the game are very important for Beguelin, especially as a goaltender. Beguelin has followed the same pregame routine for years.
For Beguelin, game days start early, making sure he’s up and moving before 10 a.m. even when games fall on weekends.
“If you lounge in bed all day, you’re screwed,” he said.
Next, Beguelin turns to his pregame meal, which he eats two hours before heading to the rink: “Four ounces of turkey cold cuts … one slice of provolone cheese, white bread and a little bit of mayo … some pretzels on the side, a couple glasses of water.”
When he arrives at the rink, Beguelin gets right into warming up. He puts his gear down and puts on his gitch, the compression shorts, undershirts and other clothing worn beneath his pads.
“Headphones in, just block out everybody … I (used to have) the same playlist for almost like two years, I needed new content so bad,” he laughed.
After warming up with the team, Beguelin takes another unique step to get himself ready for game time.
“I come back to the locker room, (and) I have to have, this is literally like granola my mom has made me since I was, I think 12 years old,” he said.
When he played closer to his home near Boston, Massachusetts, Beguelin’s mother would ship him bags of the granola. In Colorado, he has to recreate it himself. “It’s just not the same,” he said with a laugh.
After eating his traditional granola, Beguelin gets the lower half of his goalie gear on.
“Headphones back in and then I sit like that until coach comes in for the meeting,” Beguelin said. “As much as I can kind of be in my own headspace and kind of follow the same line of thought. And only when the refs are on (the ice) is when I’m throwing on my chest protector, helmet, gloves and getting out there.”
Other players rely on small superstitions rather than day-long rituals.
Brad Huggins, junior forward studying psychology, doesn’t start his routine until he arrives at the rink for warmups. He warms up with the team and then goes through stretches that he has been doing for years.
“I have this weird thing where I always had to put on my left – like no matter what it is – my left thing first,” Huggins said about his gear. He always puts on his left shin pad before his right and his left sock before his right.
“It’s funny sometimes … there’ll be times where I pull out my left thing (out of my bag) first every time and I’m like, ‘OK, it’s gonna be a good game,’” he said.
For Brennen Kim, junior defenseman studying atmospheric and oceanic sciences, music plays a big part in his mental preparation.
His game day habits include a peanut butter and jelly sandwich about three hours before he heads to the rink and blasting rock music in his headphones.
“I like Nickelback. I know people shit on them, but like I got a couple of Nickelback songs that for sure get the blood flowing,” Kim said.
Kim said he is superstitious about certain little things. For example, if he has used a stick in two games and has won both games, he won’t retape the stick and makes sure to use it in the following game.
Beguelin, Huggins, Kim and the rest of the team will be back on the ice after winter break, taking on Boise State University on Friday, Jan. 17, 2020 at the CU Student Rec Center.
Contact CU Independent Guest Writer Zach Ritenour at firstname.lastname@example.org.