The Palo Alto High School boys’ soccer team (5-0, 0-0) is sporting new haircuts this winter for its upcoming season. The tradition of giving first-year varsity players especially notable haircuts is regarded by some as hazing, but by others as a fun team-bonding exercise.
According to senior goalkeeper Eli Friedlander, the tradition of giving team haircuts originated from the team’s former preseason schedule full of Catholic private schools.
“The idea is that we would have crazy haircuts to play them,” Friedlander said.
Creative measures are taken by the haircut givers, usually upperclassmen on the team, according to junior outside defender Neil Verwillow. First-year varsity players are given especially memorable haircuts, though no one is forced to get a haircut.
“This year, some people tried to replicate professional players’ haircuts such as Marco Reus,” Verwillow said. “I knew that if it was your first year playing varsity, a really bad haircut was given. No one is forced to get a bad one, and even if they [choose to get a haircut], they could stop and walk away at any point for any reason.”
According to Verwillow, the experience was positive and uniting for the team.
“It’s a very positive team building activity,” Verwillow said. “It’s fun to receive one [a haircut], and you can show it off as a token of making the varsity squad. Plus you get to wear a comfy beanie for a while.”
Check out some of the first-year varsity players’ haircuts before-and-after gifs below.