This week’s Monday Mess topic mysteriously drifted into out brain while we were watching the many students parade by in costume on their way to the record-setting Concordia CEC Halloween Bash on Saturday night (check out pics here) and then seeing all the trick-or-treaters on Monday. We were overcome with eerie thoughts about all the strange rituals we take part in our lifetime.
This is especially true in athletics where coaches take rituals (don’t call them superstitions) to a completely different level. Put it this way, while the average person is like a simple ghost, pirate or cartoon character when it comes to Halloween, coaches are more like Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, Chucky or Michael Myers. Most coaches have some sort of pre-game ritual that gets them into a comfort zone or helps them prepare for the upcoming contest. Most coaches don’t like to call them superstitions. Even though they always do them and would never think of changing despite the fact that they rarely have any impact on the outcome of the game. As University of Tennessee football coach Derek Dooley said in an article, “I’m not a superstition guy, but I am a routine guy.”
Here is a short list of some of the great college coach rituals/superstitions:
– UNC basketball coach Roy Williams never wears red and always writes with a blue pen
– Current Alabama, and former LSU, football coach Nick Saban always has to have his daughter hand him a penny before every game
– LSU football coach Les Miles eats grass from the field during games
– Ohio State basketball coach Thad Motta has to chew apiece of Juicy Fruit, or Orbit, gum during each game and used to tie his shoes at the same spot on the court at exactly the same time during every practice – regardless of whether or not his shoes needed tying!
We here at The Mess were probably the worst examples of “Rituals Gone Bad” on the Cobber staff. Back in our coaching day we were known to make players sit in the exact same spot in the van so that the “mojo” wouldn’t be disturbed. And that’s just the tip of the machete (to carry on with the Halloween theme).
Here are some of the better rituals (no, they weren’t superstitions and why do you keep asking?) that we had during our coaching days.
-The first time we beat Macalester (a big deal for soccer teams because that is the one sport they are actually very good) we had driven by a car with an Alaskan license plate on the day of the game. So, you guessed it, for the remainder of the season we had to drive around on game day until we found a car with an Alaskan license plate (nope, not too many of those puppies in the F-M area!!!).
– We also made sure we never had more than $1.00 worth of change in our pockets because one game when we were loaded down with change the team played horribly and lost to a very bad team.
– We also never shaved on game day. We did it three times in our coaching career. The first time we shaved on game day we lost the MIAC championship. The second time we lost a game against a team that was below us in the standings. A game that would have tied us for the title. The third, and final, time was when we were playing the worst team in the MIAC and wound up losing. Each subsequent time we wanted to prove that it really was more of a superstition and had nothing to do with the outcome of the game. However, each time we did, the loss slapped us in the face like Macaulay Culkin in “Home Alone“. So, for the remainder of our coaching days, we would rather have the five-o’clock-shadow going and be comfortable than worry the whole day with a clean-cut face.
Those are just some of the rituals we left in our past. These days – in the age of positive thinking and taking control of your own destiny -most coaches won’t admit to having any superstitions or rituals. We did come across one Cobber coach that would feel right at home on Halloween with all the “Black Cats” and other good luck charms. CC football head coach Terry Horan is doing a great job at carrying on the Mess’ quirks. Coach Horan has the ritual of parking in the exact same spot on game day. He also always carries a pair of pennies, which were given to him during his coaching days at Breckenridge HS, in his pocket. He has also been known to take the exact same route to the stadium if that was the way he went to when the Cobbers posted a victory. Another great ritual for the CC football team is to drink Nestle Quick after the last practice before the season opener and then the MIAC opener. This is done to make sure the team will be “Quick” during the upcoming season.
So, as you see, coaches are just like everyone else when it comes to celebrating strange rituals. Whether it be hockey coach Chris Howe not watching warm ups to baseball coach Bucky Burgau having to personally hand the lineup card to the officials to women’s basketball coach Jessica Rahman not wanting to read the program before the game – coaches do all sorts of things to make sure that they are in “comfort” mode when it comes time for the game. And after seeing some strange things on Saturday and Monday, The Mess is sure that there were lots of comfortable people over the weekend.
The Mess Video of the Week
We were tipped off to this week’s Mess Video of the Week by former CC soccer player Josh Lee. It is an amazing story about a father and the love he has for his son. It is a testament of the bond between a parent and child – no matter the disability or difference in ages. It also shows what an inspiration one person can have on another. Many of you might have seen one of the videos but please take the time to view both in order.
The first video is just footage with the powerful song “My Redeemer Lives” over the top. The second video is the actual documentary that was produced by the HBO show Real Sports to tell the amazing story.
What led us to the first video was the text posted on Josh’s Facebook page which read:
A true story – One day a son asks his father: “Daddy, will you run the marathon with me?” The father answers yes and both run their first marathon together. – One day, the son asks his father if he wants to run the marathon with him again and the father answers yes. They both run the marathon together again.
– Then one day the son asks his father: “Daddy, will you run the Ironman with me?” (the Ironman is the toughest…it requires a 4km swim, 180km biking and 42km running). The father says yes again.
– This all sounds easy…but check this video.
Now check out The Real Sports feature on Dick and Rick Hoyt which tells the whole story and the ability of one person – even with a disability – to make a huge impact on the world.
The Rest of the Mess
This past weekend was officially the start of the “Overlap” season as the fall sports teams started to wind down their regular seasons and the first of the winter sports teams kicked off their 2011-12 campaigns. All told, there were eight Cobber contests on Saturday and one more on Sunday which made for a very busy weekend.
Overall it was a very successful two days as the Cobber athletic teams posted a combined record of 4-2, clinched an MIAC Regular-Season Championship, solidified another conference playoff berth, had an All-MIAC cross country runner and got off to the best start to a season in five years. All that, plus a swimming race with a pumpkin!
The Cobber volleyball team highlighted “Judgment Saturday” as they beat St. Ben’s to clinch a share of the MIAC Regular-Season Title – their first since 2006. The win also gives CC the home court advantage throughout the conference playoffs. The women’s soccer team followed suit by beating the Blazers 2-1. The win earned Concordia the No.3 seed in the upcoming league playoffs. It will be their ninth straight conference playoff appearance – the most by any school in the conference. CC men’s cross country runner Tom Sederquist posted his second straight top 5 finish at the conference meet as he finished fifth and earned another All-MIAC award. The men’s hockey team also had a successful weekend as they started their season by recording a pair of wins at the MIAC Showcase in Blaine. They were one of only two MIAC teams to go undefeated at the event.
Finally, the Cobber swimming and diving started their season at the annual UM-Morris Halloween Relays. CC won four relays at the event including the dreaded Pumpkin Relay. The Mess is excited about this win because it shows the true multi-tasking ability of Concordia athletes. After surviving another Halloween night The Mess appreciates anyone who can do do two things at once when it comes to anything related to pumpkins, trick or treating or wearing costumes.
The Mess Weekend Media Rewind
This weekend The Mess even made the media rewind section as we were featured in the Fargo Forum for their “My Saturday” special. Special thanks to Forum reporter Eric Peterson for making us look like we actually work!
– Fargo Forum “My Saturday” feature on the Cobber SID
– Fargo Forum feature on men’s x-country runner Tom Sederquist
– Fargo Forum feature of the Cobber football defense
– Fargo Forum recap of the Cobber football game against Bethel
– Video Highlights of the Cobber/Bethel football game
– Video Highlights of the Cobber/Augsburg volleyball match
– Volleyball Senior Night memories
The Mess Picture of the Weekend
This week’s Mess Picture of the Week comes from the MIAC Men’s Cross Country Championship Meet. It was taken by cross country/track and field photographer Nathan Lodermeier and takes place just before the start of the meet. Cobber first-year runner Ryan Sederquist is out front, warming up and trying to get CC pumped up. What makes the pic is the looks on the faces of the team members – especially the reaction of his brother, All-MIAC runner Tom Sederquist!
The Mess Photo Galleries of the Weekend/Week
Check out the award-winning picture galleries from the weekend. Be sure to click on the volleyball gallery from Augsburg and the shots that were taken from the Memorial Auditorium rafters.
– Football vs. Bethel
– Women’s Soccer vs. St. Ben’s
– Men’s & Women’s X-Country at MIAC Meet
– Volleyball vs. Augsburg
* Special thanks goes out to Sheldon Green who took the pictures from football, Isaac Vatnsdal for the volleyball and soccer shots and Nathan Lodermeier who is the best cross country photographer in the MIAC.
“Now That’s A Big Mess” Stat Line of the Weekend
This week The Mess goes with a career stat line for the Big Mess Stat Line award. Cobber senior quarterback Michael Dunham now has career passing totals that look like: 421-for-689 for 4,959 yards and 29 TD’s. He holds the school record for career passing attempts, career passing completions and career passing yardage. Well done!
This week’s winner comes from the Facebook page of Josh Lee who posted the link to this week’s Video of the Week. Thanks Josh!
The Mess Tout Video of the Week
The newest social media feature of the Cobber sports network is Tout. It is basically the same as Twitter only all the updates are in video form. It gives Cobber fans a chance to see video of Cobbers players and coaches during practice and right before the big game.
This week’s winner was taken at football practice. The CC punt returners practice concentration by catching consecutive punts without getting rid of the previous ball caught. The trick is to see how many punts in a row they can catch without dropping a ball. Here is Cobber wide receiver Bronson Shepherd catching his school-record fifth straight punt!
Queens of the Mess
We looked into giving this weekly award to someone else but we couldn’t do it. For the second straight week it was the easiest decision we made. The Cobber volleyball earned the second MIAC regular-season championship in program history on Saturday when they beat St. Ben’s 3-2. As long as we are doing The Mess we have one “set in stone” rule: If you win an MIAC title, you earn the King/Queen of the Mess award. End of story. Nothing more to see here. Move along.
Kings of the Mess
Holy Moly what a pair of goalies! This week’s award winners opened the winter sports season on Saturday and Sunday. Sophomore men’s hockey goalies Kelly Andrew and Chris Neamonitis carried the Cobbers as they stopped 69 of the 72 shots they faced and helped CC to a 2-0 start. It marks the first time that Concordia has started the season with two straight wins since the 2006-07 season.
Andrew turned aside 35 shots in the Cobbers’ 3-2 win over Gustavus in the season opener on Saturday and then Neamonitis made 34 saves as Concordia edged St. John’s 2-1.
The Mess is impressed with the two wins because we know that two years ago Concordia would have found a way to lose both games. The Cobbers have now turned the corner and enter every game expecting to win. That is the recipe for success and should make for a very memorable season.
The Tom Burnett Unsung Hero of the Week
This week’s Tom Burnett Unsung Hero of the Week is senior women’s soccer player Kelsey Swagger. For three seasons Swagger was one of the mainstays for the Cobber defense (talk about a position where you very rarely get any accolades. This year she unselfishly made the move to midfield and has steadily improved week after week. Her ability to plug up the middle of the field is one of the big reasons Concordia finished the regular season by only losing once in their final 10 games. She capped her regular-season career by recording assists on both of CC’s goals in their 2-1 win over league-leading St. Ben’s on Saturday. Swagger now has six assists on the season which is a career high.
The Mess Fans of the Week
This week’s Mess Fans of the Week award goes out to all the family members of this year’s Cobber fall athletes. They have put in an enormous amount of time and energy – not to mention money – into the athletic careers of their sons/daughters/grandkids/nieces/nephews/brothers/sisters. The end of the season brings a harsh finality to all the direct family members. It is the last time they will be able to watch that athlete perform at a high level. The Mess gets to see it every season and it is “hands down” the most emotional aspect of the job. Unfortunately every career must come to an end but that last game/match/meet is always the hardest on family members.
We are using the picture below to represent the family members of the athletes on all the fall athletic teams. In the photo you have Cobber senior quarterback Michael Dunham surrounded by family members after his last game at Jake Christiansen Stadium. What makes the picture – and really gets to The Mess – is the hug he is getting from his cousin Anna. We don’t know if she understands the fact that it is Michael’s final home game but the emotion of the moment tells it all.
Once again we ask our 10’s of readers to submit Cobber fan pics! Please send your Cobber fan pictures to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember – the winning entry receives a special Cobber prize!
Upcoming Mess Games of the Week
Thursday, Nov. 3 – Volleyball at home – MIAC Semifinals – 7 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 5 – Swimming & Diving at home – 1 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 5 – Volleyball at home – MIAC Championship – 7 p.m.
The Cobber volleyball team begins the second season when they host an MIAC semifinal match on Thursday at 7 p.m. If (when) they win that match they will host the MIAC Championship tilt on Saturday at 7 p.m. The Mess is hoping that fans will turn out en masse and give Concordia a definite home court advantage as they try and claim the MIAC Championship Double!!! The one bad thing about the MIAC playoffs is that fans have to pay for tickets because it is a league sponsored event. So instead of getting in free, you have to fork over $7 for adults and $3 for students. The Mess is working on trying to get a group of students into the semifinal match free of charge – if we can come up with a sponsor.
Saturday is also the first home meet for the Cobber swimming and diving team. If you have never been to a swimming and diving meet, here is your chance to root for the Cobbers in the warmest venue on campus. Plus, Saturday will also be another chance to cheer against St. Thomas (did we just type that?). CC takes on the Tommies and Macalester at 1 p.m. Feel free to pull that Halloween costume out one last time, or dress up in your best beach attire, and come cheer on the Cobber swimmer and divers.
That’s the end of this week’s Mess – or is it? Like Michael Myers – the Mess and all the strange athletic rituals – will always keep coming back. You can’t get rid of us. Your only hope is to join us and bask in their comfort.
Good luck to the Cobber volleyball and women’s soccer teams this week as they participate in the MIAC playoffs!
As for The Mess, we will be in our office listening to DMB with the Alaska license plate hanging from the wall, exactly 57-cents in our pockets and having not shaved in days. And we will be very comfortable – thank you very much!
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