It started out as an innocent conversation. One night during a team dinner, several players were joking around about hairstyles.
Two hours later, senior midfielder Kevin Klett and sophomore midfielder Belal Mohamed found themselves in junior forward and midfielder Joonas Jokinen’s basement with a package of silver hair dye.
“Yeah,” Klett said. “I’m not really sure how we got to that point.”
While their attempt at silver hair didn’t turn out as planned, it doesn’t mean their hairstyles don’t stand out.
Mohamed, who normally has dark hair, now has bleached his hair and often wears it in a man bun. Jokinen has a similar style with the sides of his head shaved but a streak of longer light-blonde hair in the middle — he cites rapper G-Eazy as his inspiration. Klett sports a strawberry-blond mullet with the sides of his head partially shaved.
“It’s really just this luscious mane that I just let flow as I’m out there running,” Klett said. “It’s all business in the front and party in the back.”
Klett recognizes that his hairstyle is somewhat unconventional, but is proud of it nonetheless.
“I actually was not expecting any compliments, but a lot of people have told me that they really like it,” Klett said. “One of the coaches, not from our team, but at Temple, when he sees me, he calls it ‘the best hair on campus.’ And I’ve had a lot of people stop me on the street and tell me they like it.”
While haircuts may not seem like something that would encourage team-building, for the Owls, hairstyles often play a role in bonding among athletes.
Jokinen said his basement has been converted into a barbershop of sorts, as he offers haircuts for all his teammates. His clients have included Mohamed, senior defender Tanner Giles-Tucker and junior midfielder Matt Sullivan. Since switching up hairstyles is not for everyone, this is a fairly select group from the team that enjoys experimenting with their hair.
“It’s more of a little group thing,” Jokinen said. “I think we’re the only ones who have the sense of humor to really mess around with our hair.”
Klett, Mohamed and Jokinen have some of the most distinct hairstyles on the team, but that doesn’t mean others aren’t willing to try something new with their hair. Last season, the group dyed Giles-Tucker’s naturally blonde hair and eyebrows a shade of black, something Jokinen and Klett hope to bring back at some point this year.
Mohamed helps Klett with the upkeep of his mullet, so the two have spent lots of quality time together. Mohamed will shave Klett’s sides regularly and Klett assists Mohamed with any dyeing necessities.
“He went to a barbershop and got it done first, so I’ve just been fixing it up,” Mohamed said. “But I love it. I don’t know what everyone else’s opinion is on it, but I like it.”
Even though there are mixed opinions on the mullet, it still holds favor among the Owls. Both Jokinen and Mohamed said they would choose Klett’s mullet if they had to switch hairstyles with someone on the team. Klett, however, would go in a more traditional route and switch with coach David MacWilliams. MacWilliams’ deep brown is styled in a traditional, short and professional manner. Klett believes he will never be able to attain his coach’s hair color.
Klett admitted the mullet needs to go at some point, but he is waiting until the end of the season to switch it up. At this point, the mullet, which requires close to an hour of daily upkeep, has its own place on the team.
“It kind of has taken on a new role,” Klett said. “I’ve heard that announcers have referred to me just as ‘mullet’ in games, so I think, yeah, I’m going to leave it for the rest of the year.”
Not only have announcers latched onto the mullet as the midfielder’s defining characteristic, but so have fans. During one of Temple’s games, opposing fans chanted “12 has a mullet” from the stands.
Klett isn’t bothered by the chants or jeers and sometimes doesn’t even notice them, but Mohamed hears shouts and even songs about his man bun and interprets them differently than Klett.
“It takes the focus off other players and puts it on me, so I use it as a positive thing,” Mohamed said. “It brings attention to me so if scouts were to come to the games, I’m who they’re looking at.”
Jokinen, Mohamed and Klett all see hairstyles as a unifying force in soccer and that there are trends to the cuts of soccer stars. While Jokinen and Mohamed’s hair encapsulates the current hairstyle trends in soccer including the European cut, man bun and shaved designs, Klett isn’t counting out mullets as a possible trend.
“I’m trying to start a new trend,” Klett said. “Get it back up again. I don’t know if it’s caught on, but if in like a couple years, you see mullets, remember that it started out there on the field.”
Maura Razanauskas can be reached at email@example.com.