An oral telling of Iowa State gymnastics unique superstitions

Madeline Johnson runs to celebrate with Coach Ronayne after her bar routine. The Cyclones won their tri-meet against Illinois State and Gustavus with a score of 195.625.

Austin Anderson

Like many other sports, gymnasts have superstitions that they believe — rightly or wrongly — contribute to their success. Some may be as easy as keeping the same routine each time, but others can go much further. 

Here are some Iowa State gymnasts’ superstitions, as told by the athletes themselves. 

Junior captain Briana Ledesma: “We can sometimes be a little superstitious. When traveling, it kind of changes up your game plan. When you’re at home you can make the breakfast you want, you can get the lunch you want, but when you’re traveling you can’t do that. You just have to take what’s there.”

Sophomore MJ Johnson: “Personally, I don’t have really any superstitions. Some girls have to do their hair the same way or they get freaked out.”

Sophomore Meaghan Sievers: “I am very weird about bars. I keep everything the same all the time. I put the left grip on first. I do left, right, left, right, left, right for everything. I just have to have a pattern when I go. I always look at Courtney [Middelkoop] before I go and I have to nod and tell her, ‘I’m fine, right?’ She goes, ‘You’re fine.’ So I know I’m fine.”

Johnson: “I don’t really have any superstitions compared to some girls.”

Sievers: “I have a Mountain Dew before every meet, but I don’t know if you should tell my coaches that.”

Sievers: “We all get it together. Me, Haylee [Young], MJ. We’ve always done it. I don’t know if I even notice a difference. It’s just something I’ve always done. I’m just like ‘Oh, it’s meet day, I get to drink a Mountain Dew.”

Johnson: “This year I’ve had to have a Red Bull before every meet. That’s the only thing really.”

Sievers: “Last weekend, we had to be there at 3:30 and I went to the gas station at 3 and bought [Mountain Dew] and drove to the gym.”

Sievers: “Everything I do on bars is kind of weird. Down to my heel pads go on the same foot every time. I always put my rubber bands on first. I always put my left rubber band on first: left, right. I always say the same stuff in my head over and over too. As I walk up to go, I have to tell myself, ‘Dude, you’ve got this.’ I have to talk myself up.

Ledesma: “I like to eat the same breakfast. The last two meets I’ve eaten the same breakfast. Two eggs, half a bagel with cream cheese, three strawberries, four raspberries and four blueberries.”

Ledesma: “I know sometimes Meaghan has to have an omelet before each meet. When she doesn’t have an omelet, she, like, stresses out.”

Sievers: “I was way weirder about it last year. I ate an omelet for breakfast before every meet. I didn’t give it up but we would go to hotels that didn’t have it so I kind of had to give it up.”

Ledesma: “We have our weird quirks we have to do before we go. Before we salute, we all have certain things we have to do or we feel we’re not on. If we don’t do it we’re like, ‘Oh my God, the world’s coming to an end.’”

Sievers: “My nervous habit, you can see me doing it in meets, I blow on my hands a lot. It’s like my nervous tick. Then right before I go, I present, and say, ‘All for Him.’ All for God. I have just always done that before I compete. It’s just what I think going in. No matter what happens, it’s meant to be, I guess.”

Ledesma: “Before vault, I like to do my little thing with the chalk before I run down.”

Sievers: “We started a thing at the beginning of the season where you’re presenting to your team because you’re competing for the team, not for the judges or anyone else. Even in practice, I present to my team before I go, I do that in meets too, reminding myself I’m competing for them, not for anyone else.”

Ledesma: “Before Haylee [Young] goes on floor she has to say, ‘I have to go to the bathroom,’ and I’ll be like, ‘But it’s gonna fuel your fire.’ We always say the same things to each other.”

Sophomore Sydney Converse: “I don’t think I have any superstitions other than I bring my teddy bear Chester with us everywhere on the road. I’ve had him since freshman year since we started traveling, so now he goes everywhere with us.”