Traditions bring teams together since ’77

Kelley Johnson, Senior Writer

High school sports teams have players ranging from freshmen to seniors. With this kind of age gap, it is common at many schools for younger players to feel as if they are getting left out.

But not at Liberty.

As a soccer player here at Liberty, I know the importance of having that close-knit relationship with your team. What many don’t realize, though, is that this type of relationship doesn’t just come from spending practices and games together; what really builds this bond is what your team does off the field, and the team traditions you share.

From team dinners to matching socks day, team traditions can be as simple as a handshake to something as intricate as poems. No matter what the tradition, they’re all equally important in the goal of bringing everyone together.

Most teams have the familiar customs of team dinners, secret buddies, bonding sessions, and locker room antics that get everyone amped for games. But some teams take that extra step to reinforce the meaning of being a team.

Liberty football, womens basketball and womens soccer all have unique and special traditions that have built special bonds between everyone. For example, the womens basketball team has an annual pumpkin carving, football has its “Patriot’s Creed,” and womens soccer has, what the athletes call, savage symbols.

“Our girls basketball team jumped outside our typical preseason bonding sesh norms when we had a night dedicated to getting everyone together and carving pumpkins,” senior guard Devin Anderson said. “These kinds of nights help make the incoming freshmen on the team feel more included and make them feel more comfortable with being able to talk with the upperclassmen.”

As for football, the men have their pregame locker room poem called “The Patriot Creed” that was written by a former Liberty student and athlete named Ross Milligan. This poem is now recited before every game. The line “Together we are more than anyone perceived, no matter the situation we will never surrender, twenty years from now we’ll be the ones to remember,” holds special significance to center lineman Nate Jarvis because it reminds the players that they are one team, and that no matter what, they will always be there to support one another.

The womens soccer team also has longstanding pregame traditions that many don’t know about or may not understand: “savage” and “D.E.A.T.H.”. Our shouts of “savage” in the team huddle along with the Japanese symbol that represents our acronym of D.E.A.T.H. (that holds a very secretive meaning and is located on every player’s left wrist) both bring meaning to how and why we play.

Writing initials in remembrance of friends and family that we’ve lost, Bible verses, and significant quotes on our forearms has become tradition on the soccer team as well.

Making sure that everyone feels as if they are a part of their high school team is one of the most important aspects of being on a team, and team traditions of any kind make that possible. The uniqueness of each player and each team tie in to what makes each team great in its own ways.

All of our Patriot teams have traditions that come from seasons past, and we have the choice to end them or create new ones. But whatever the tradition, the message is the same: traditions unite us.