Talks with Hawks: Episode (Unlucky) 13

mario-villamizar

     The number 13 has always had superstition attached to it, especially so in the sports world.  When I was growing up, hardly any athletes in any of the major sports dared to don that number. Notable exceptions were Wilt Chamberlain, Dan Marino, Mats Sundin, and  former Hawk Mario Villamizar who is now a member of the British Columbia Lions.  In today’s episode, I reached out to a number of former Hawks and asked them to describe to me their specific game day superstitions and/or rituals.  The results were very entertaining!

Ken Evraire (WR, 1985 to 1988): I have one that very few of my teammates knew about. In my freshmen year, we traveled to Toronto to play the Varsity Blues.  As I unpacked my gear, I realized I forgot my thigh and knee pads. As a rookie, I didn’t want to anger the equipment manager so I raced off to a corner store on Bloor Street and got creative.  I bought a box of kotex pads, taped them up, prayed it wouldn’t rain, and wore them for the game. I had a good game so I continued to wear my customized knee and thigh pads the entire season. (Editor’s Note: Given that in 1985 he was selected OUA rookie of the year, that was a certainly a good period in Evraire’s career).

Michael Faulds (Head Coach, 2013 to present): When I played at Western, I would arrive at the stadium about 40 minutes before everyone else. I’d always drink an XL coffee as I took my time changing, which included doing my own taping. What’s more interesting is the emotional wreck I was on game days. Throughout high school, I would get sick before every game, sometimes even during the pregame warmup. Then, in university, I would be so pumped up, anxious, and excited that I cried before every game. (Editor’s Note 2: I have witnessed the intense nature of Coach Faulds’ pregame speeches for 7 years. I can attest to his passion. I actually had part of his 2016 Yates Cup pregame speech as the ringtone on my phone for a while before I changed it because it was scaring too many people in public places!  As well, we are similar in that we would both probably arrive for a flight 3 hours in advance).

Gary Jefferies (former Head Coach): I used to play ‘Country Roads’ in my office over and over again in my office for at least 20 minutes before going out to the field.

Jon Aikens (OL, 1986 to 1989): I remember recreating the exact same interactions before every game. One was a group one: the O-Line would go out by ourselves while the other team was warming up and walk from one goal line to the other on the edge of the field. We didn’t get in the other team’s way but we were trying to make a statement of field ownership (home and away). I also remember recreating similar greetings just before game time. Veron Stiliadis and I never really talked to each other much but on game days we would always wish each other a ‘good game’ in exactly the same way before every game. I did the same thing with Rohan Dove too. I initiated it and I am not even sure if they ever picked up on it. I also never washed my jock straps all season. It was pretty disgusting. 

Shane Hebert (DB, 2007 to 2011): No Spat Tape! The first time I did it in 2008, I broke my leg.  After that, there was no way I was ever going to use that again.

Anthony Pizzuti (WR, 2013 to 2015): I always made sure that I dropped 1 pass in pregame warmup to ensure (hopefully) that I didn’t drop one during the game.

Chris Graham (OL, 2008 to 2011): Before each game, I had to eat a footlong, assorted cold cuts sub from Subway. I started that tradition in high school. Once at a playoff game in Ottawa, I made sure my parents brought me one.

Tanner Philp (DB, 2012 to 2015): On game days, I simply would not eat. I liked to play on an empty stomach. It was especially tough for night games though! I wouldn’t eat all day. The only thing I would have during the day would be coffee.

Anthony Maggiacomo (LB, 2003 to 2007): After Friday ‘walk through’ practices, I would always eat an entire delissio pizza for dinner and watch Rocky 4. On game day, I would do a 45 minute individual workout before team warmup.

Bryon Hickey (RB/SB, 2001 to 2005): I had a bunch of them.  On the night before a game after walk through practice, a bunch of the same guys would always go out to dinner at Wilf’s. On game day in the morning while getting ready in our house, Andrew Agro and I would sync a football playlist and have it blasting from 2 spots in the house as we were getting ready. I also wore the same base layer undershirt from my high school playing days during my entire university career. While getting dressed, I had 2 specific tasks that I had teammates do: Andrew Agro had to pull my shoulder pads over my head (like he also did for me in high school) and Dante Luciani had to roll up the sleeves of my jersey.  I also had to touch the Hawk logo on the wall on the way out of the dressing room before the game started.  As a team, we always exited the dressing room to ‘Til I Collapse’ by Eminem.

Kojo Millington (DE, 1995, 1997 to 2000): It involved timing. I would always ensure I left the locker room to take the field exactly 1 hour before kickoff.

Ron VanMoerkerke (LB, 1986 to 1989, Current Defensive Coordinator): As a coach, I have a specific ritual of walking up and down the hashmarks on the entire field before each game.

Paul Bennett (DB, 1975 to 1976): It was all about my socks. The seams had to be perfectly straight with exactly 2 inches of team colour showing between the sock and pant leg. Then, I would wrap pro wrap around my calves to ensure the sock would never slip down. OCD for sure, but it worked for me!

Myles Methner (OL, 2014 to 2018): I used to puke before every game, which is bizarre because I never consciously felt nervous. It would always just kind of happen.

Dre Gordon (RB, 2015 to 2019): I would always pray in the endzone right after the national anthem. 

Brad Smart (DB, 2002 to 2005): I only got into one game, so whatever I was doing, it didn’t work very well! However, I did make sure I put on my right shoe first.

Nial Both (DB, 2002 to 2003): First off, I had very specific music I would listen to before the game. It had to be techno music before early outs and then slow jams right after early outs.  Secondly, I had two different sets of gloves.  One was for warmup, and the other was for the game. I never mixed them up.

Sam Montazeri (LB, 2012 to 2016): I would eat early in the morning. Then, I would take a shower right before I would leave my house and walk to the stadium. After that, before everyone else got there, I would sit on the bleachers and imagine the entire game in my mind, the tackles I was going to make, etc.

Osayi Iginuan (RB 2015 to 2019): I showered and bathed before early outs religiously.

Courtney Stephen (DB, 2008 to 2009): I always tied my shoelaces the exact same way: both bows tucked under the laces down the front. Always!

Mike Choma (OL, 1985 to 1989): On the walk from the old change room in Willison Hall to the stadium on game days, I would always been sure to walk up the hill and never use the stairs. Stairs were easy and we needed to work hard.  Also, the guys on the O-Line would spray paint our gloves the colour of that week’s opponent’s jersey. 

Rashad Latouche (RB, 2009 to 2013): I had to do my own warmup routine all by myself before we did the team warmup. As well, I had to set up my locker space so my warm up gear and my game gear were separated and neat. Finally, I cleaned my helmet the night before each game.

Brandon Calver (LB, 2013 to 2017): There was a specific group of about 5 of us who would always go out to dinner 2 nights before game day. During warmups at home, I made sure I was on the same spot on the field every time.

Isaac Dell (FB, 2009 to 2013): I wore the same girdle and the same mouthguard from grade 12 all the way through my 5 year university career.

Ryan Pyear (QB, 2001 to 2005): I would listen to the same playlist before each game.  As well, I would always have a pregame shower with hot water blasting my throwing shoulder. Finally, I always had to be the first one leading the team out of the tunnel before the game.

Joe Nastasiuk (WR, 1984 to 1988): I would always wear the exact same white undershirt beneath my gear. After the national anthem, I would always make the sign of the cross.  Whenever I scored a touchdown, I would always just place the ball down on the ground in the endzone.

Charlie Taggart (Assistant DL Coach): When I played at Guelph, me and my roommates would do a steak night the night before home games.

Kyle Armour (DL, 2001 to 2005): I would always say a prayer in my locker right before Coach Jefferies would do his pregame speech.

Jesse Collins (Current Strength Coach, LB from 2010 to 2013, 2015): I would walk up and down the field 10 times before the game and visualize my positional responsibilities in different situations.

Asante Mizan (DL, 2011 to 2015): Like Jesse Collins, I would walk up and down the hash marks before every game visualizing making plays. Before games, I had to listen to Soca music.  Most importantly, I had to be glistening in African body oil.

Todd Galloway (Offensive Coordinator, WR from 2000 to 2003): We had bad fashion back in the day. It was a bit of a ritual to go out for pregame warmups with like 4 or 5 armbands on each arm. I always tried to wear the same t-shirt under my equipment and it was devastating if it got torn during a tackle. As a coach, I am obsessive about my game day play sheet. When I laminate it, it has to be perfect. If there are any bubbles or crooked spots, I will start all over and do it again.

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