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Friday, November 13, 2009

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Special Feature
Friday the 13th? No Big Deal!

For many people, 13 can be an unlucky number. According to an AP story published today, historical figures such as Henry Ford, Napoleon and Franklin D. Roosevelt were cautious of the number. FDR adjusted his travel plans to avoid taking trips on the 13th.

Not for these Muhlenberg athletes. For Meghan O’Grady, Meghan O’Grady Katy Rossino, Mike Gehrmann and Jeff Puklin, it’s their lucky number. One switched to the number 13 after freshman year, two were not given preference and one chose the number because of his 13-year-old cousin.

O’Grady changed to the number 13 after the 2008 Katy Rossino season because the girl who previously wore the number graduated. She has been wearing the number 13 since she started playing club soccer in middle school. The first thought that comes to O’Grady about the number 13 is not that is unlucky. She says, “I automatically think about my soccer number when I think of the number 13. I would consider it my lucky number.”

In her first season on the Muhlenberg women’s soccer team as number 23, O’Grady scored four regular-season goals. This season as number 13, O’Grady has doubled her regular-season goal total with eight goals. In her first year wearing 13, O’Grady led the Mules to the top seed in the Centennial Conference playoffs and the NCAA Tournament.

Rossino, of the women’s basketball team, did not choose to wear number 13. When asked how she ended up with the number she said, “I’ve had several numbers over the years. When I was younger I was always number 11 after New England Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe. In high school, I switched to number 10, and when I came to Jeff Puklin Muhlenberg the number 13 jersey happened to be one of the only ones that fit me well, so it was the best option.”

Whenever people comment on 13 as her number, she usually just laughs and goes along with it. She says she has gotten the “oh number 13, that’s unlucky” comment many times. But Rossino, like O’Grady, was part of a championship team the first year she wore 13, as the Mules won the CC title last year.

Gehrmann of the men’s soccer team wore number 11 in high school. When he came to Muhlenberg he did not have a preference and was given the number 13. Gehrmann said, “During high school I chose to be the number 11. By chance I was given the number 13 during my freshman year. I probably would have changed it my sophomore year but got lucky from the start because I started playing better.”

He said, “A lot of people have commented that I wear a very unlucky number. Besides the Mike Gehrmann infamous Friday the 13th, the number really has no bad luck involved with it. I don’t seem to believe in Friday the 13th being unlucky.”

Puklin, a second baseman and outfielder for the Muhlenberg baseball team, wears the number 13 for a different reason. When he was 7 years old, he had an older cousin who he looked up to who was 13 years old. Puklin said, “At the time I wanted to be 13 years old so that I could be like my cousin. When asked what number I wanted to wear for my first baseball team, I picked 13. Now I am 20 years old and my cousin is 27, but I’ve stuck with the number 13.”

Although Puklin is not superstitious about his number, he is about other things. Puklin has a very specific pregame ritual. Before home games, he always has to be the first one at the field. He said, “This ritual has become a superstition about needing to be the first one there. I like being there first so that I can get mentally prepared for the game without any distractions.”

Puklin also avoids the foul lines when he runs on and off the field by jumping over them. “Usually this is a superstition pitchers do, but I’ve always felt that it couldn’t hurt avoiding potential bad luck as a position player either.”

For O’Grady, Rossino, Gehrmann and Puklin wearing 13 is lucky, even with all the negative superstitions about it.

by Lisa Youngentob ’12

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