game braids
Rachael Ressler (with her back towards the camera) sports her signature braided ponytail, a game day must.
Photo provided by Emily Ewen

Athletes Discuss Opinions on Hairstyles in Sports

Emily Ewen

Does it matter to you how you do your hair when you do activities? Here is a chance to hear from some Manchester athletes about the importance, or lack thereof, of their hair when they play sports.

Dinah Gilbert is a cross-country and track & field athlete. Gilbert feels that it is important that her hair is up when she participates in athletics, but the fashion of it does not particularly matter, especially during practice. Her go-to is a basic ponytail or two braids.

Gilbert says “It personally doesn’t bother me while running, but it can get annoying during the summer when it’s really hot, sticking to my skin,” she said. “For these times a braid is the best way to keep it out of my way.” She has a specific way she likes her hair for meet days and that is in double braids. “I don’t have to worry about the ponytail, it gets me in the meet spirit, and it helps me feel a little faster,” she said.

Gilbert explains that her athletic hairstyles is important to her, especially on meet day, but she thinks every athlete is different.

Like Gilbert, Rachael Ressler, a volleyball player, offers her opinion on hairstyles. Agreeing with Gilbert, Ressler does not particularly care how her hair is up for practice, but it matters on game day. Ressler has very long and thick hair that often gets in her way, so she says. “It is annoying in a sense, but it doesn’t impact the way I play because I don’t notice it until after the play is done and I am waiting on the next play to start,” she said.

The best way Ressler keeps her hair out of the way is to put it in a ponytail, braid the ponytail, and have at least two hair ties around it so nothing falls down. Ressler has changed her hairstyle from previous years, now sectioning the ponytail into three separate braids, making her feel confident.

“Letting my teammates braid my hair makes me get closer to them and lets them know I trust them with my hair,” she said. “I think in my head that if I do this I might play better and get the W, but I never doubt my hairstyle if we lose.”

Adelle Stanko is a track & field athlete, and she agrees with Gilbert and Ressler that her hairstyle for practice does not generally matter. Stanko says that sheher and the other girls generally do ponytails, braids, and messy buns.

“For meet day, it matters because we have a lot of time to get ready and dance in the locker room, most girls braiding their own hair or having a teammate braid it,” she said. “For really important competition, some girls have done cornrows or more intricate styles.”

Stanko says that it is not particularly annoying, nor does it impact her competition, but occasionally she’ll get a ponytail whipped into her eye. “That’s part of the reason why I find French braids to be helpful since it sort of adheres your hair to your head, not allowing it to fling in your face,” she said. Stanko describes noted that although people wear certain styles, the style isn’t as important as the function in athletics.

Hairstyles aren’t just important for women athletes. Noah Vanhorn is a basketball and track & field athlete. For practice, Vanhorn seems to agree with the women, where he just throws his hair up in a sloppy bun. However, on game day he loves having his hair cornrowed so it is pulled tightly and there are less stray hairs.

“I couldn’t stand long hair while playing sports when I was a kid, but I wouldn’t say it’s annoying now because I am so used to it,” he said. Vanhorn believes that his hair does impact the way he competes because of the “look good, feel food, play good” sense.

Vanhorn does not have a specific ritual but he does prefer the cornrows especially for track because his hair can get in the way when trying to throw shot. Vanhorn feels as though his hair gives him a presence of more strength and power.

These are a just a few beliefs, rituals, and routines for athletes and their hairstyles during their sports. Their overall outlook appears to be very much the same, while also completely the styles different for each athlete.