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Spartans show bond, go blond

Monica Maschak -
The Spartan football team breaks from practice for water. The team dawned bleached hair as an act of camaraderie in time for playoffs.
Monica Maschak - The Spartan football team breaks from practice for water. The team dawned bleached hair as an act of camaraderie in time for playoffs.

SYCAMORE – The pressure of postseason football is immense, especially for a team that expects to challenge for a state title. So Jake Winters and Josh Hunt wanted to add a little bit of fun to the start of Sycamore’s playoff run.

As the Sycamore players gathered in their field house on a rainy Thursday, the Spartans’ attempt at levity clearly seen on the top of almost every player’s head, dyed garishly blond as a sign of solidarity.

“It’s playoffs, so obviously there’s going to be pressure, because if you lose, you go home,” Winters said. “You can’t get too wrapped up in the scouting reports, you just have to have fun. [We wanted] to enjoy it.”

Winters and Hunt started the craze that swept through the Sycamore team after last week’s regular-season-ending win over Yorkville, which gave the Spartans an undefeated record and the No. 2 seed in their half of the Class 5A bracket. Sycamore plays host to Antioch at 2 p.m. Saturday in the fist round.

The next day, a few more team members came in with their hair a few shades lighter, and Hunt and Winters bought a few hair-bleaching kits at the store and made a few more of their teammate’s blond.

“I was the first one to do it, then Jake did it, and no one else said they were going to do it,” Hunt said. “One day, about 10 people did it. The next day, more people, more people. Eventually, there was one guy who didn’t do it, but hopefully we can change his mind at some point.”

The key to the success of this particular bonding activity might be its simplicity. Last year, a few of the players decided to get Mohawks, and not many players participated. This year, only a few holdouts remain only a day before the Spartans’ first-round game.

“I definitely think more people did the bleached hair than the Mohawks,” Winters said.

Coach Joe Ryan smiled when asked about this year’s act of playoff solidarity, making it clear that he had little to do with his team’s new hairstyle. 

In a way, the unified look reflects the high level of camaraderie Ryan finds special about this group, although he elected not to connect the two.

“They just want to be successful, and they don’t care who’s the guy that makes it that way,” said Ryan, whose hair remains dark as ever. “The point is, there’s no jealousy on this team. They just want to win, and hopefully that carries over.”

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