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Silver Over Gold
Capital High School's dyeing tradition is alive and well 25 years later, thanks to the dedication of one alumnus
Published: 2/29/2020 1:41:37 PM
 

Upon first arriving at the Ford Idaho Center in Nampa for the annual state wrestling tournament, the hustle and bustle of coaches, athletes and referees rushing to their prospective mats created a sense of chaos and claustrophobia.

But as the tournament wore on, with hundreds of athletes from dozens of schools taking their turn on the mat, one common trait among the countless faces seemed to shine through — literally.

From Lakeland of the north to Caldwell of the south, dozens of athletes attending this year’s tournament sported brightly bleached hair. The heads of silver and gold reflecting the bright lights of the Idaho Center were hard to miss, even among the hundreds of bodies milling about the edges of the 12 wrestling mats. 

The odd choice in fashion, according to these athletes, was close to nonsense.

“Just a tradition,” many said.

But the origins of said tradition? None seemed to know. 

None, except those from Capital High School.

“Everyone at school sees a wrestler with white hair and thinks, ‘Dang, they’re really in this,’” said Grayson Lauren, a Capital senior competing in his first state tournament. “People see you and recognize you. They’ll say, ‘Wow, you made it to state. Congrats.’”

Lauren is one of 16 Capital wrestlers who entered Friday and Saturday’s tournament with bleached white hair, a shade brighter than any other competitor from any other school. 

The secret? A 25-year tradition started by former Capital wrestler and coach Christopher Crawford.

Crawford, owner of Clippers Hair Design in Boise, competed at Capital in the early ‘90s under then Head Coach Rocky Lima. After graduation, Crawford became an Capital coach himself with Lima. 

“He was a father figure,” Crawford said. “He was an icon there. Mr. Lima convinced me I should go somewhere after school if I didn’t end up going to college. I ended up going to Paul Mitchell in 1993 and I’ve been doing hair since 1994.”

When Crawford joined on as a coach, bleached hairstyles skyrocketed in popularity thanks to the rise of musicians like Eminem, so much so that Crawford sported the look himself before state 25 years ago. Brady Richmond, one of his athletes at the time, couldn’t help but admire the look.

“Brady came to me and said, ‘Coach, if I make it to state, will you bleach my hair like yours?’ So I bleached his, and it’s been a tradition ever since,” Crawford said. “Every kid that goes to state wants to have it bleached.”

More than two decades after Capital wrestlers started arriving at state with silver locks, the tradition remains strong, as Crawford books up most of his schedule just for the current wrestlers en route to the tournament. And while the sudden influx of customers can create chaos in the hair salon, Crawford said he savors the chance to give back to the program that helped him get his start. 

“I get the phone call a couple days after districts, and I’ve got to cram in 10, 12, 16 wrestlers in the next few days,” he said. “But it’s always fun to give back. Once those boys get here, all those memories come back.”

While Lauren and other members of this year’s Capital team said the bleaching process creates a bonding experience for the team before the biggest moment of the season, Crawford said the bright white hairdo serves a practical purpose as well. 

“The Capital alumni, the coaches, the families, they can always find their kids. They’re the ones with the white hair, not the yellow hair,” he said.

Crawford doesn't just showcase his talents to local customers and the Capital team. In the past, he and his staff have designed for Boise State football. When former Bronco Jeron Johnson made it to the Super Bowl with the Seattle Seahawks, Johnson flew Crawford to the game to help give the team a fresh new look.

As for how Crawford attains that brilliant silver color, that remains a Clippers secret. And if an athlete’s family can’t afford the cost of the bleaching, Crawford said he’ll take matters into his own hands.

“I’m the one that can get everyone’s hair white. You’ll see a lot of people with yellow hair, and there’s always at least one kid that can’t afford it,” he said. “I tell people that if there’s a family that can’t afford it, just let me know. Kind of like a scholarship, you know? I’ve been there myself.”

 
 


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