Why the wrestling team bleaches their hair


The 2018-19 wrestling team, hair dyed blond, poses for a photo. The wrestling team last dyed their hair 3 seasons ago.

It is not uncommon for athletes to show team spirit through their physical appearances, whether that be through shaved heads, facial hair, or long hair. 

Wrestling teams, like the one here, have a popular tradition of bleaching their hair when their sport is in season. The decision is typically made unanimously by the team or team captains. The coaches tend not to have a say in whether the team does it, as they are typically unaware as to whether or not the team has decided to until it is done. Though a tradition at Sequoyah, head wrestling coach Joe Hulen is no stranger to it. 

“In my experience, the hair dying thing has been a wrestler tradition. It started before I arrived at my previous school by one of the captains,” Hulen said. “He wanted the team to make a decision to outwardly express that they were all in for the team.”   

This tradition is not limited to solely high school teams. Many professional wrestlers take part in this as well. One of the most popular wrestlers in history, George Wagner, back in the 1940’s and 50’s, took part in this popular tradition as a way of showing tribute to ten past presidents who had also been wrestlers. 

Others have an even deeper meaning behind their bleached hair, including the Sturgis Wrestling team. The team bleached their hair for a South Dakota state tournament as a way of showing tribute to a teammate, Brandon Delzer, after his passing in a vehicle accident the previous November. The bleached hair was chosen for this tribute due to Delzer’s blond hair.  

The team here has refrained from bleaching their hair since the 2019 season, when the team qualified for state dual championships individually, not qualifying as a team since 2003. They are thus far continuing to not bleach their hair this season as well. 

“Typically, it is done after the team qualifies for the Dual Championships,” Hulen said. “I am not sure why it was not done last season. It’s a team decision; if the leaders are not on board, then it will not happen.”  

The team hopes to qualify for Dual Championships again this season which, if achieved, will likely lead to the team bleaching their hair once again for the first time since 2019.