Hair today, gone tomorrow

The Gophers have a number of extravagant hairstyles, but many will disappear Oct. 29 as the team raises money and awareness for cancer research.

by Dane Mizutani

Two-fifths of men are bald by age 35. Two-thirds are bald by 60.

Next Monday, more than 60 Gophers football players — and one Minnesota volleyball player — will be bald as well.

Gophers athletes will shave their heads next week to help raise money and awareness for pediatric cancer research.

Minnesota wide receiver Connor Cosgrove, who is battling leukemia, engineered the idea and convinced dozens of his teammates to shave.

 “We’ve got some pretty boys on this team,” Cosgrove said jokingly. “I went into it thinking that 30 [people] would be great, something like that. And as I’m sitting here with a sign-up sheet, they just kept coming and kept coming.”

Proceeds from the event will go to St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a volunteer-driven charity that raises money for cancer research.

Cosgrove rocks the traditional mop-top, but some of his teammates have more extravagant hairstyles.

MarQueis Gray

Senior quarterback-turned wide-receiver MarQueis Gray is known for his run-first mentality on the field. Off the field, his dreadlocks embellish his 6-foot-4-inch frame.

Gray said he started growing his dreadlocks when he first came to Minnesota, but he hasn’t completely cut his hair since he was in fifth grade.

He said he’s still on the fence about cutting his hair Oct. 29.

“I’ve thought about it so much. I want to support it so much, but I’m still thinking about it,” he said.

Gray is getting married Dec. 12 and said his wedding date and his fiancé are the two things holding him back.

Cosgrove said he’s been in Gray’s ear all week and is still hopeful the senior will concede.

“If he goes, then maybe some more of the guys with dreadlocks will go as well,” Cosgrove said.

Aaron Hill

Aaron Hill said his hair isn’t the only thing that defines him, but his afro is how people tend to recognize him.

“On campus a lot people say, ‘Oh, that’s the dude with the ’fro, or that’s the Old Spice guy from the commercial,’” the junior linebacker said.

Hill hasn’t decided if he’s going to chop off his afro Oct. 29.

“I’m definitely thinking about it because … I think it would do a lot of good,” he said.

He has less than a week to decide, but his hairstyle has taken years to perfect. Hill said he’s been growing it out since he was in high school.

“It’s a job because you’ve got to wake up and make sure you pick it out right,” he said. “I keep it pretty trimmed … and shaped up so it’s about the same length all the time. That’s why they say I’ve got the perfect ’fro.”

Mike Rallis

It’s been more than four years since Mike Rallis has had a haircut. His long, flowing locks are his signature look — on and off the field.

The senior linebacker said he wants to use that attention to make an impact.

“I’m in a position where my hair has gained some attention … and people recognize me from it,” he said. “It’s gained enough attention where I can do some good with it.”

Rallis deliberated for a while before deciding to shave his head, and he said he is excited because of the cause it represents.

“I’ve done it before where it’s been long, and I’ve shaved it down, but obviously nothing like this,” he said.

Cosgrove spoke highly of Rallis, who has helped head the movement within the team, but he still took some time to take a friendly shot at his teammate.

“I think he’ll be much more of a pretty boy once that disgusting hair is gone,” Cosgrove said with a chuckle.

Rallis said his younger brother, Nick Rallis, will also shave his head, but Nick’s hair is significantly shorter than Mike’s.

“It’s not quite as big of a deal to cut off half a centimeter,” Mike Rallis said with a smile, “but it’s been great to see how many people are willing to do it.”

Jake Filkins

Baldness won’t be new for long-snapper Jake Filkins — he’s been losing hair since his junior year of high school.

“My junior spring, it started going out slowly,” Filkins said.

Filkins used to have a full head of hair and described himself as “one of those pretty boys in high school.”

“I had the long, flowing hair,” he said. “[My baldness] wasn’t all that noticeable, and then I cut my hair short and you could really start to see the V.”

Filkins said he tried to hide his receding hairline, but during his senior year of high school, he decided to stop fighting it.

“When you start losing hair, you don’t have much options,” he said. “The shorter it is, the harder it is to tell that it’s thinning.”

Filkins grew a full beard in the eighth grade, and the beard coupled with the baldness paved the way for a notable nickname — The Old Man.

Though he doesn’t have much hair to work with, Filkins will shave his head for Cosgrove and the charity.

“They’re not going to cut off much, but I’m going to do my part,” Filkins said.