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Coaches can have a tendency to be superstitious.
Maybe it is a certain shirt and tie combination, routine of preparation, type of gum they chew ... the list can include just about anything and everything.
For one coach, I became part of that list.
Bruce Thomas was the head coach of the Streetsboro boys basketball team throughout the early 2000s.
Led by point guard Tommy Stockard, Thomas had a rebuilding Rockets team that was on the cusp of breaking through the level of mediocrity that had been hanging over the program.
They were not quite championship contenders yet, but they were a dangerous team for those that were seeking titles because when they were able to put it all together for four quarters, they could be very good.
One of those nights happened in Mantua during the 2001-02 season, when the Rockets visited the Crestwood Red Devils and authored a come-from-behind victory. Crestwood was a team with championship-caliber success under coaches Paul Woodard and then Josh Jakacki, and the Red Devils were talented again.
On this night, though, I watched the Rockets as their confidence grew with each made shot in the fourth quarter and the team made very few mistakes down the stretch.
The result was a signature win for a relatively young Rockets team that hadn’t earned too many up to that point.
I remember talking to a jubilant Thomas after the game. He was rightfully proud of his team, how they rose to the challenge and saw it as a possible springboard for what they could become.
As it happened, I was assigned to cover their next game, and they won that game.
During the postgame interview with Thomas, he mentioned that maybe I was part of the good fortune his team was experiencing.
From that point forward, every time I covered a Streetsboro game, Thomas would smile as he saw me walk into the gymnasium. On more than one occasion, he would say to me, “If you’re here, I know we are going to play well tonight.”
I had become somewhat of a good luck charm to the team.
I started to believe it myself, actually.
I had to admit, every time I saw the Rockets play, they seemed to win.
As an athlete, I have never been one to be overly superstitious, but Thomas had me rethinking things.