As late August rolls around and summer comes to an unfortunate end, the new school year is marked with the confusion of freshmen desperately searching for their classes, the rekindling of old friendships, and above all, the notorious mohawks plaguing the heads of each varsity football player. A tradition dating back to over a decade ago, the shaving of all types of once-full heads of hair wasn’t always the same as we know today.
The strong-smelling odor of the boy’s locker room, a handful of senseless sophomore football players, and a well-used electric razor set the scene for the birth of a tradition. Midway through the fall of the 2005-2006 season, former player and current varsity running backs coach, Dylan Johnson, recalled, “A few of us guys did it for homecoming that year…it’s not like it is now.” Even though the hairstyles may be just as–let’s just say interesting–as they once were twelve years ago, the tradition truly has a whole new connotation, not just to the players, but to the entire culture surrounding the program.
This season, as a first year member of the varsity team, I witnessed the creation of the mohawks up close–front and center. With all 56 players crammed into one condense yet stifling garage the night before the first game, each player lined up and anxiously awaited their turn. Once the time presented itself, I found myself sitting on top of a wooden stool, watching brunette chunks of my locks land in my lap as the buzz of the razor seemed to become more evident with each cut. Although losing that go-to hairstyle I’d been rolling with for years on end isn’t the most exciting aspect to welcoming a new varsity football season, it’s simply part of the commitment of being a part of the team. Nevertheless, no matter how much you claim that your hair is your most defining feature–and despite the number of products and care it requires–all that is pushed aside for this tradition.
Commit to the bit.
Now before I go on, let’s make something clear: no one is forced or required to cut their hair. Rather, it’s completely up to the players to decide for themselves.
Although not mandatory, players willingly chop their signature looks. But if it’s not required then why do it? The answer to that is very easy for many players, such as 3-year varsity team member and current senior captain Spencer Yauch.
“For the team, the Mohawks bring us together closer because we all have one distinct look that makes us different from the rest of our community. People see us and know who we are.”
Personally, I don’t believe there’s any other way to put it. Yauch summarizes it best. Although there’s more to them than just their unusual, eye-opening appearance, the abnormality of the varying hairstyles is essential to the tradition and truly gives them meaning. Whether it’s in the 3rd floor hallway of the high school, the gym at the Lake Forest Rec Center, or even in the parking lot at Potbelly’s, people can tell, simply by the specific trim on your head, that you are a football player for the Lake Forest Scouts.
That’s what this is all about. That one specific attribute that every player possesses that has them stand out in a crowd, separates them from the rest of the school, puts them in the spotlight amidst everyone around them. It’s that simple yet flashy image of each player that lets others know that not only are they fully committed on the field, but that same style of dedication and perseverance will carry off the field and to wherever it is that they go.
Playing football for the high school isn’t just a given. It’s a privilege. It’s not everyday you get to go out there with your buddies and play the sport you love most. Constantly I’m hearing from former players and even current seniors that playing high school football for the Scouts is an experience like no other. I’ve heard time and time again that they’d do anything in their power–at any cost–to come back and run through even the most dreaded practice.
Football means that much.
To be able to throw on the royal blue and gold jersey every Friday night and compete for a state championship in front of the entire community of Lake Forest has a meaning that no words can accurately describe.
In essence, those rigid yet somewhat entertaining haircuts mean so much more than just a mohawk.