The Dalhousie University Tigers women’s volleyball team has a spooky, fun way of practicing each Halloween. By wearing costumes to practice, it makes for a lighthearted occasion during a stressful time in the school year.
“It’s a lot different that day because you see all these different outfits. [The team’s] laughing and smiling, and they’ve had some fun with it. It’s a good memory for them,” said coach Rick Scott. He came up with the Halloween tradition during his first season with the team in 2008.
At the beginning of practice, the squad will get pictures and participate in festive activities with their costumes, such as games with candy. The team then resumes training, swapping the costumes for practice wear.
“Sometimes they’re not able to just go out and celebrate Halloween like a normal university student would because they might be playing on the 30th or 31st,” said the three-time Atlantic University Sport (AUS) Coach of the Year.
With a season spanning from the end of September through February, dressing up for Halloween is something Scott believes the athletes look forward to.
“It’s a fun Halloween event where people are in costumes and enjoying being out of character dressing up as something else,” he said. “It’s been a good team builder and a fun activity for our team.”
A mental break
Third-year middle Grace Calnan said wearing a costume for practice is fun for everyone on the team.
“It just takes a little bit of planning and people can take a mental break from school,” said Calnan.
The season is set to start on Oct. 28, just before Halloween.
“It’s always a good reminder not to take things too seriously,” said third-year outside hitter Kathleen Fougere. “It gets really intense in practices right before the season starts, especially for the first-years who haven’t had to go through [the season] before. It’s a nice little break before everything gets started.”
Historical best costumes
Fougere said one of the best costumes she has seen was sported by player-turned-assistant coach Catherine Callaghan. She dressed up as Guy Fieri. Meanwhile, Scott opts for horrifying mask costumes.
“I usually try to put on my usual costume mask and something that’s a little different, so it’s not the normal day of going to practice,” said Scott.
As the team’s nine-season AUS title winning streak suggests, Dal is competitive down to the smallest things. The bout for best costumes is no exception, as the creativity put into some costume ideas is a yearly treat the team watches for.
“It’s really fun to see how much effort people put into it every year. I think the more years you’re here, the harder you try to have the best costume,” said Fougere.
For Calnan, one of her favourite costumes was from last year, when the rookies teamed up to dress as the Ghostbusters plus Slimer, the green ghost from the movie franchise.
“It’s fun for the team because we usually have some fun at the beginning of the practice and there’ll be some candy and games,” Calnan said. “Then after that, it’s kind of back to business.”