It is a common sight to see Meghan O’Connell step on the basketball court, put her toes on the line, eye the rim and, raising her hand to her forehead, make the sign of the cross and blow a kiss to the basket.
“Oh God, I hope I make this free throw,” she tells herself in her pre-shot ritual.
Less obvious but no less important, O’Connell likes to be the first one in the locker room at halftime and the first one back on the court to start the second half. And in soccer, sitting in the locker room before each game, she puts on the right side of her equipment before the left.
According to O’Connell, the rituals started as a young player in high-pressure situations. “They seemed to work,” she said. “And now I just like doing them.”
Patterns are a big part of O’Connell’s career as a Flathead High Bravette.
O’Connell and her soccer team have clashed with Billings West in the first round at state the last two years. The Bravettes lost each of those games, winding up fourth overall in 2005 and third in 2006. This year, they meet Billings West again in the first round at state and O’Connell hopes the upswing continues.
“There’s lots of doubt out there with the split (with Glacier High School) and a new defense,” she said. “Basically I’m just proud of my team and how they’ve played together the last three years.”
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