Main piece: KP: Our team does have this tradition where usually once a week we’ll have this giant glass container, very pretty, engraved, it says “Ohio State Rowing” or whatever, and Ohio State has the Buckeye nuts, we’re “The Buckeyes”, and everytime you want to congratulate a teammate, or point out how hard they’ve been working, you go up in front of the whole team, you take a buckeye, and put it in the glass jar. So in the beginning of the year we have no buckeyes, and then at the end of the year we have a whole jar of them, and that shows how far we’ve worked, all year, how much we’ve helped each other, how much we like each other and support each other.
HB: So you just go and find a nut on the ground?
KP: So we have a couple buckeye trees by the boathouse, so we got buckeyes from there. I think we bought some of them, but most of them were collected by our former head coach because he was weird like that and he liked to do that. But yeah, so that’s kind of cute.
HB: How do you announce it [that you’re putting the buckeye in]?
KP: So you go up in front of the whole team, and be like “This one’s for KP for working hard during lift” and then you drop it in.
Background: KP is a sophomore coxswain for The Ohio State University rowing team. After coxing competitively in Maryland clubs for four years, she was recruited to cox at Ohio, which she has now done for two years. She seemed proud of this tradition, and has actively participated in it during her time at Ohio.
Context: I asked KP if her team has any “lucky” objects or superstitions they do/interact with before competitions. While this is not either of those things, she believes that this tradition is one of her team’s most important ones. She believes that it fulfills its purpose of showing how much her team cares for each other.
Analysis: This ritual serves as team bonding. The folk object; the fancy glass jar engraved with “Ohio State Rowing” represents the team itself; the prestige of the institution. Over the course of the year, as team members laud the actions of others, it becomes full. The metaphor there is then an obvious one of togetherness. However, this jar is not (in the opinion of KP) seen as important as the buckeye nuts, which are either gathered by the person who wants to reward their teammate or collected from inside the boathouse. The buckeye nut (and therefore being a Buckeye, as a symbol of the school) in this context has positive connotations. It is accompanied by another team member acknowledging hard work or skill level, and encourages other members of the group to bond or work harder so that they too can be given this compliment. One then wants to and takes pride in being a Buckeye, or a member of OSU, as it is something that has been earned and a title given to them by other members of their group.