The lights are turned off, music is blaring loudly and a disco ball emerges. Before long, there’s dancing — lots of it.
This is not a scene from a club, although it certainly may feel like one. In fact, it’s the Longhorns’ locker room before every match, a pregame ritual that’s been around for quite some time.
“It’s just a way to get us ready and get us in the zone, just hyped up for the game,” junior forward Olivia Brook said. “We always get our freshmen in there to do a little dancing for us. It’s just a really fun way to loosen us up and get us ready for the game and get our minds right.”
Brook says the ritual has been around ever since she’s been at Texas. Many teams across a variety of sports have different ways of getting ready for a game. But dancing and keeping things light are what help the Longhorns before a match, even if their head coach may not be as in tune with the festivities.
“I have nothing to do with that,” head coach Angela Kelly said. “I heard there’s somewhat of a disco ball perhaps. That is all of them and more power to them. They’re excited, they’re ready to go.”
The easygoing spirit has certainly carried over to the pitch and helped Texas in their recent success, according to Brook. After being shut out of their season opener two weeks ago, the Longhorns responded with back-to-back 3-1 victories last weekend over the College of Charleston
and Detroit. Texas combined to outshoot both opponents 35-17.
“I think that at the beginning with a new team it always takes a little time at first to get everyone to gel and mix well together,” Brook said. “But over the past couple weeks, we’ve really learned how each other plays and worked really well together.”
Although well into the season by now, outside skepticism still eats at the Longhorns each day. Texas was picked sixth in the Big 12 preseason poll, but the team says the ranking came as no surprise. Texas has only made the NCAA tournament once in the past four seasons.
“We’re pretty used to it by now,” senior defender Isabelle Kerr said. “Ultimately that’s just a beginning preseason ranking that means nothing in our minds. It’s about where we finish at the end of the season.”
Looking ahead at this weekend, Texas faces a winless Sam Houston State team on Friday at 5 p.m. and its first top-25 matchup of the season with No. 19 California on Sunday at 11 a.m. The Longhorns are hoping to keep their winning streak alive — and make a statement to their doubters.
“We know the opportunity that we have ahead of us,” Brook said. “We have something to prove, a little chip on our shoulder.”