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GAME ON

Photos by Herald Staff

High school students who compete have a variety of pre-competition rituals ­­— to calm nerves, to pump up adrenaline, to get their heads in the game. Ten students share their experiences from this school year’s fall and winter seasons.

Jasper junior Jalen Moya, center, enters the field before the football game in Jasper on Sept. 27, 2019. Herald photo by Kaiti Sullivan.
“When running through the tunnel, I was just focused on knowing my assignment, playing well and winning for our home crowd,” Jalen said. “Before each game in the locker room, our coach says a prayer and then we get loud and rowdy like teenage boys to hype ourselves up to play. After warming up, we meet in a big huddle and the seniors remind us to do our part, focus on our job and win. Running through the smoke with the cheerleaders and fans, that atmosphere helps me because I don’t want to let them down.”
Southridge senior Evie Sherer puts on her swim cap before diving in the swim meet in Huntingburg on Dec. 16, 2019. Herald photo by Marlena Sloss.
“I get very nervous before meets, so I was running through my dives in my head,” Evie said. “It’s important to be in the right mindset so we can focus on diving and not other things, like the crowd or if we’re hungry or the water’s cold. No matter what, my goal is always to be proud of the dives I put out there and then behave in a way that reflects my team, coach, school and family in a positive way.”
Forest Park senior Lauren Jahn, center, cheers with her teammates before the girls soccer sectional game in Bretzville on Oct. 10, 2019. Herald photo by Kaiti Sullivan.
“In the moment, I felt pure adrenaline rushing through me, as I got ready to play the game I love,” Lauren said. “We were doing our team chant and we all felt the energy and what was to come next ... It is important that we all have the right mindset if we are going to win. To win, we all have to work together and be confident in each other, while still having fun.”
Southridge freshman Gracie Stasel, right, hugs freshman Lindsay Echeverria after warmups at the ISSMA state marching band finals in Indianapolis on Nov. 9, 2019. Herald photo by Marlena Sloss.
“All I was thinking about was this is the last time I get to do these stretches and warmups with my band friends, including all the seniors,” Gracie said. “I was nervous because it was state finals, and that was the last time you could put your show out there for everyone to see. I just didn’t want it to be the last time.”
Jasper and Castle volleyball teams observe the national anthem before the sectional championship in Jasper on Oct. 19, 2019. Herald photo by Sarah Ann Jump.
“The moment that this picture shows is our team entering the game that our whole season led up to,” said Meredith Hilgefort, a Jasper senior. “When we are all linking and squeezing each other’s pinkies before the moment we had been training for, it was such a surreal and calming feeling. It unifies us in a sense. I remember this game so vividly, and this moment was when I was the most calm. Standing on the line with your team as a senior in the sectional championship game in a full gym that is completely silent is indescribable. When they play the national anthem, I use the time to take a deep breath, calm my nerves, and lock in.”
Forest Park senior Tyler Hedinger circles up with the low brass section during warmups at the Indiana State School Music Association state marching band finals at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Nov. 9, 2019. Herald photo by Marlena Sloss.
“It’s nerve-wracking because you didn’t see the crowd yet, you didn’t see the field,” Tyler said. “It was kind of sad because it was the last one we were going to do. But [huddling up] hypes you up. It makes you excited. We talk about different things to not screw up during the performance, like the harder parts and how to remember to do them.”
Southridge senior Conner Oxley takes a moment to himself in the locker room before the Goal Post Trophy game in Jasper on Aug. 30, 2019. Herald photo by Traci Westcott.
“I remember it was a big game against Jasper,” Conner said. “I knew I put in the work, and I didn’t want to let my emotions and nerves get in front of me, so I got down on a knee, and took a moment to myself. We’re brothers and in this together, but we get in the right mindset in different ways. To calm my nerves, I go off in my own little world before reality hits.”
Northeast Dubois senior Ethan Ziegler talks to his teammates before the boys basketball sectional in French Lick on March 3. Herald photo by Marlena Sloss.
“I was thinking about what it’d be like to win, what it would be like to lose,” Ethan said. “I was extremely nervous, just thinking like, man, it’s kind of crazy, it’s going to be one of the last times I run out on the court, either way, if we win or lose, because we don’t have many more games, and just that that was my last sectional. I was just really excited, really nervous.”
Heritage Hills junior Wyatt Koenig, left, and his teammates stretch before the cross country sectional in Jasper on Oct. 12, 2019. Herald photo by Kaiti Sullivan.
“Stretching as a team brings us together,” Wyatt said. “We’re a tight-knit group. I was nervous, but after we warm up and pray together, it helps me to get in the right mindset. It’s important to put aside nerves, to be gracious and in the moment. No matter the outcome, it doesn’t change what kind of runner you are.”
Forest Park freshmen Emma Rickenbaugh, left, and Anna Woosley pray before the sectional football game in Bicknell on Nov. 1, 2019. Herald photo by Sarah Ann Jump.
“At that moment, I felt really nervous, but also happy because I was praying with my best friend at the time, Emma,” Anna said. “Before every game, we’d practice doing partner jumps and toe touches together, and pray. It means a lot to me, knowing that God is always with you. Even if something goes wrong, He’s in my corner.”

The Herald | Dubois County, Indiana | Saturday, May 16, 2020