Pregame Rituals: The Story of the Psyche

On any given Friday, campus visitors may be perplexed to see large groups of students chatting as they walk to class, decked completely in camouflage, shades of neon, or other puzzling garb. Andover students would know better, however, as team “psyches” have become a colorful part of campus culture.

Many Varsity and Junior Varsity sports teams schedule these psyches on the day of or before major games. Players emphasize that the fun themes help promote team unity and get players into a collaborative mindset for their games. By dressing up in unusual clothing as a team, players form a solid relationship with their teammates.

In an interview with The Phillipian, Katelyn Wang ’18, a member of Girls Varsity Volleyball, said, “I think [psyches bring] the team together because we’re all doing it together. Even though it might look weird if one person is dressed funny, when we all come together for the picture and we see each other, it’s cool.”

“I first found out about psyches when my roommate who’s on JV Volleyball dressed up for her first psyche, and I didn’t really know until she told me. I think that, especially for the teams that really get into it, it’s just a source of amusement for other people around campus and just gets everyone really excited about the game,” said Olivia Nolan ’20, a member of Girls JV Field Hockey.

Psyches also serve as a form of advertisement, “psyching” students up for upcoming games. When students see a certain team dressed up together, they know that there is a game in the coming day or weekend. It draws attention to major tournaments, games, or scrimmages.

“We’re all bonding by wearing either nice clothes or funny clothes. It also lets the community know that we’re working hard and that we have a competition that day or the next day. And if it’s a home competition we can do some advertising and get our peers to come support us,” said Ethan Brown ’17, a member of Boys Cross Country.

“I think the psyche is just to get everyone pumped up for the game the next day or the same day and also it brings attention to your game to other people so more people come out to watch,” said Georgia Ezell ’19, a member of Girls Junior Varsity Soccer.

Some teams have traditional psyches that have become emblematic of their sport over the years. Girls Varsity Soccer has their signature onesies psyche, while members of Boys Cross Country can be spotted wearing sports jackets and colorful shorts on race days.

“Our second psyche this season was an annual tradition where we wear really nice clothes and then our shortest running shorts on bottom, so that’s always a classic. Almost all of our psyches have been running traditions throughout the years so we’re usually not coming up with new ones,” said Brown.

“A signature PAVB psyche is the ‘what the hell are you wearing’ psych. So we just dress up in random stuff and really crazy things. That’s one of my favorite ones,” said Wang.

Britney Bourassa ’18, a member of Girls Varsity Soccer, looks back fondly on memories of Girls Varsity Soccer’s camo psyche, which took team bonding to a whole new level when members took a spontaneous trip to Walmart to gather clothing for the event.

Bourassa said, “I liked camo because of the backstory that went with it– we did a team trip to Walmart to buy camo clothes. It was a bonding experience. We all went and got camo stuff and got a camo umbrella that we were passing around. When you see someone around campus wearing the specific theme of your team, seeing them like that, dressed differently, it’s like ‘Yes!’”

Although some teams have lasting traditions of psyches, it is unclear when or how these psyches originated. The history of psyches and their origins remains a mystery to teams, coaches, and the school, with no information about psyches to be found in the school Archives or the Athletics office.

Even coaches who have been with their respective teams for years have no idea when this student-led spirit movement began surfacing around campus.

Although psyches and their importance differ for each team, Jeffrey Domina, Boys Cross Country Coach and Instructor in English, believes they ultimately bring the team together.

“I think teams that have healthy team dynamics tend to compete better. In that way, if the teams that are doing fun, respectful psyches are probably stronger teams in the end. I’m lucky to have a team where I can trust the team’s captain and the team to do whatever they think is appropriate or fun,” said Domina.