NORMAN — Oklahoma outfielder Taylor Alspaugh loves his hair. It caught him off guard about seven weeks ago when OU coach Pete Hughes joked that he should show off his golden locks while he can.
Soon after the coach informed his team they would host Thursday night’s “Shave for the Brave” event at L. Dale Mitchell Park. All the players and coaching staff voluntarily had their head shaved as part of an event that raised more than $26,000 with half the proceeds benefiting national childhood cancer research and the other going to the Oklahoma Children’s Hospital.
Thursday night clearly was a bonding experience. By the end, players were rubbing scalps they’d never seen, joking and having a good time.
Stylists from Sports Clips handled most of the shaving. Hughes shaved a couple players before being sheared himself.
However, they knew why they did it.
“Coach gave us the option on whether to cut it or not,” OU third baseman Sheldon Neuse said, “but those kids don’t have a choice, man, so why should we? We want to show we’re right there with them in everything we do.”
Hughes held his first “Shave for the Brave” event four years ago at Virginia Tech. Thursday night was the fourth time he’s had his head shaved in the middle of the season.
The coach admits he never knows if players will voluntarily join him. Neuse admitted he hadn’t had a hair cut that consisted of anything more than a trim in four years. All at least had buzz cuts when they finished practice late Thursday afternoon.
Community service has been something the Sooner coach has highly pushed the team toward since the fall with a program called 19 Ways. The program, which was developed by Hughes, is aimed at trying to make an impact in the Norman community in 19 different charitable ways. Thursday’s event was No. 14 on the list.