Being in a sports team throughout high school, there are many interesting rituals that we practice. The following comes from an interview with a fellow softball teammate as she recounts her favorite small ritual that we practiced in our team.
The following is a story told to me by the interviewee.
“In our softball team, everyone has a nickname. And we would put the nickname between the first name and the last name. So First Name–Nickname—Lastname. There was Riley “Ryebread’ Crocker. Maria “No-Pass” Boone. Holly “Freshie” Cohen. Cindy “Splits” Keogh. My nickname was Freshie because I was the only freshman that year. Not the most interesting one and it stuck all the way till I was a senior. Which is weird to be called freshie as a senior. A lot of the nicknames were either endearing ones that were a play on someone’s name. I remember yours was Val “Pal” Tan. And then a lot of them were like really significant things that someone did on the field. Like with Cindy did the spilt to catch the ball, and so she became Cindy “Spilts” Keogh.
Sports teams build a sense of community very quickly. Getting close to your teammates through practice, going through wins and losses together, building emotional bonds. While some sport team rituals build on the concept of superstition to ensure winning a game, the act of nicknames in this softball team appears to come instead from the attempt to build an even greater sense of community amongst the teammates. This team ritual allows the teammates to bond quickly, nicknames are often reserved for close friends. However, even if two teammates are not that close to each other and would not have otherwise called each other by nicknames, the in-built nickname from being on the sports team forces the two to feel like they have a bond between them.