Dartmouth Soccer Team Folklore


  • We decided to compare and contrast folklore from the Dartmouth men’s and women’s soccer teams. We explored both superstitions and team traditions, and we collected this folklore by interviewing the players themselves and by observing the team rituals.
  • While the men’s soccer program was established in 1915, the Dartmouth women’s soccer program was not founded until 1979. Although the women’s program has not been established as long, both teams have developed rich traditions and rituals. These traditions are meaningful to the players, and each tradition serves a variety of purposes. Overall, these traditions strengthen team cohesion, encourage players to give their best effort, and remind the players that they are representing and playing for something greater than themselves.  
  • Over the centuries, Dartmouth college has preserved many beloved traditions, because of their significance to the students, alumni, and the College. The traditions that have developed on the men’s and women’s soccer teams originated within this larger cultural context. As such, they also reflect values that the greater Dartmouth community holds too.
  • In addition to team traditions and rituals, we collected a variety of superstitions believed by the players. To an outsider, these superstitions may seem strange or inconsequential. However, we found that they they are critical for success, because they enhance mental preparedness. The superstitions also provide a sense of reassurance and calm nerves, because they give the players a sense of control over the match’s outcome. We also found that these superstitions originated according to Frazer’s Laws of Magical Thinking, because the beliefs developed through contact or through similarity.
  • Overall, we found many similarities and differences between the two teams. As both teams arrive in the summer before classes start, many of their pre-season traditions serve to reunite the team and to initiate the new members. In many ways, the pre-season traditions serve as rites of transition and incorporation for the new members, because the activities help the new members feel at home.
  • Both teams contained verbal folklore in the form of team sayings. However, the focus of the verbal lore was different. The team sayings on the men’s team focused on the past prestige of the program. Their sayings included words like “culture” and “legacy.” On the other hand, the sayings on the women’s soccer team focused on effort and work ethic. This distinction has important implications: the women’s sayings focus on elements that they can control (like effort), while the men’s sayings focus on elements that they cannot control (like the past).
  • The men’s and women’s soccer team differed in their superstitions. The women’s team held material folklore, and they were superstitious about their clothing and hair. Players on the women’s team believe that wearing their hair a certain style helped them perform better, or wearing a certain pair of spandex brought them good luck. In contrast, the men were superstitious about things that affected their energy levels. The men were superstitious about different drinks, which affected their physical energy level, and about their pre-game playlists, which affected their mental energy level.




  • Alyssa Neuberger
  • Russel “Blake” Crossing
  • Hunter Hagdorn
  • Andrew Lemkuil


  • Superstitions
  • Soccer
  • Rituals
  • Traditions
  • Sayings