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Credit: Ilana Wurman , Ilana Wurman, Ilana Wurman

Basketball season may not start for a couple weeks, but a certain Penn sports team has taken it upon itself to correct the lack of buckets around campus.

But these buckets aren’t being interpreted in the traditional sense. Instead, they’re taking the form of bucket hats, and Penn women’s soccer has a surprising number of them.

Wearing bucket hats has become the newest addition to the Quakers’ gameday regimen, and while it may seem trivial, that simple act has radically changed the way the team looks, both off and on the field.

After going scoreless for five straight games, the Red and Blue searched far and wide for that spark of inspiration that would finally see the ball find the back of the net. The floodgates eventually opened on Oct. 13 as the Quakers dispatched a lowly American team, scoring one goal to make up for each game of their scoreless drought in a 5-0 win.

While practice and preparation certainly played their part in the win, a growing number of players on the team are starting to think that the problem may have been the dearth of bucket hats in the team’s pregame apparel. In the days leading up to the matchup with the Eagles, sophomore defender Jill Kennedy proposed that the entire squad don bucket hats on gamedays.

And the results speak for themselves.

Statisticians might be wary of claiming a causal relationship between wearing bucket hats and scoring goals, but many players on the team see some merit in the their newfound sense of fashion.

“It gave us a nice swagger coming into the game,” junior goalkeeper Carrie Crook said. “Hopefully we’re going to have it for the rest of the season.”

Although the hats have only recently taken campus by storm, their roots can be traced back to the Red and Blue’s matchup with Harvard last year, when Crook and former Penn defender Haley Cooper brainstormed ways to spark the team as it headed into one of its biggest matches.

The duo raided its drawers for matching bucket hats and rugby shirts until they had constructed two fully matching outfits. After an impromptu photoshoot, the isolated incident quickly became a movement when now-juniors Olivia Blaber and Lindsey Sawczuk pulled out matching rugbys, hats and Converse sneakers of their own.

This year’s bucket hat revival has gone above and beyond its humble beginnings from last season. With such fantastic success against American, the Quakers decided to keep the hats lying around, sporting them before their Ivy games against Dartmouth and most recently Yale.

“A lot of the people on the team are superstitious, myself included,” Blaber said. “So when we find something that works, we’re sticking to it.”

In the beginning, however, not everybody on the team took to the bucket hats — first-year coach Nicole Van Dyke was one of those original critics.

“I think bucket hats are ridiculous,” Van Dyke said. “My husband used to wear one, and I walked in and I thought it was a wind-up for me at first.

“I was like, ‘Do they know I don’t like bucket hats?’ And then I found out it had nothing to do with me, it was just their deal.”

With that misunderstanding out of the way, Van Dyke has taken the bucket hats and rolled with them. Though she may not be wearing one anytime soon, she recognizes the importance of building team camaraderie.

“This is their team,” Van Dyke said. “Ultimately they drive the culture so I want them to have fun and enjoy themselves. If it meant more wins, then maybe we’d start wearing them all the time.”

That being said, superstition is not part of the Van Dyke playbook, as she claims that confidence is driven by preparation. And while a team can always use a bit of luck, the Quakers rely on hard work more than anything for their results.

Having just grabbed an empathic win over Yale last Saturday — Penn’s first Ivy win of the season — those results are looking pretty good. Whether or not the bucket hats played any part in that has yet to be determined, but with just two games left in the season, don’t expect another Red and Blue goal drought anytime soon.

As Blaber said, “When it rains, it pours, so get your buckets.”

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