Handshake is a part of game day

Portland Athletics

Handshakes can vary from a simple high-five to a complex series of motions, but the end result is the same.

Most athletes have rituals they follow before games, whether it is listening to a certain song, eating a certain food or whatever it may be. One of the biggest rituals for my team -- and a lot of other teams – is the handshake.

Every team has the huddle where they say their team mascot name or school name on the count of three, but those are not the handshakes I’m talking about. I’m talking about after the team huddle, before everyone heads to their designated spot on the field, when members of the team do a special handshake with one or more of their teammates.

No two handshakes are alike. They can vary in length from a simple high-five to a complex series of hand motions that are sometimes hard to memorize. Some involve words and others don’t. Some require the two people to be close to each other and others can be done from across the field, maybe a simple pointing at each other.

These handshakes can be made on the spur of the moment, thought about in a dorm room one night or even evolve over time. No matter what the handshake looks like, each does the same job: gets the athlete ready to play a game.

Personally, I have four handshakes. One occurs when all the defenders get together; another occurs with fellow goalkeeper Nichole Downing and is a series of hand slaps. Michelle Cruz and I have a simple jumping high-five, and Amanda Frisbie and I have one that may be very hard to describe.

It started out simple with just a hand hug -- for those of you who do not know what that is, you can Google it -- but over the past two years has developed into a long series of motions that have come from inside jokes and funny moments that always seem to happen to us. There are even a few motions that we are not sure where they came from. But no matter how it came about, each handshake gets me ready to play and is one of my favorite parts about game days.