South Carolina men’s tennis team raising hair, awareness through ‘Movember’

first_imgCOLUMBIA – It has been a long time since anyone talked about mustaches on tennis players. The University of South Carolina men’s tennis team is hoping to change that.The Gamecocks are participating in Movember, an international fundraising campaign that brings together facial hair and men’s health issues. During November, participants grow mustaches to generate conversation about prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health problems.USC coach Josh Goffi was introduced to Movember through his brother-in-law, who showed up for Thanksgiving dinner one year sporting a handlebar mustache.“When I said, ‘What are you doing?’ he said, ‘That’s exactly the point,’ ” Goffi said this week. “He started to explain what it was.”After mulling the concept, Goffi and assistant coach Ryan Young decided to see if their players would consider participating.“We all jumped in and were excited about it,” said team captain Thiago Pinheiro, one of the team’s three seniors.The team set a goal to raise $1,000 through their Movember web page ( and received more than $500 in less than a week.“Looking at the website and seeing people donating, it’s pretty neat to see that it actually works,” Pinheiro said.Goffi said there are additional goals.“Number one is to strike up conversation — that’s the whole point,” Goffi said.The stereotypical male avoids getting checkups and tries to fight through health problems without medical assistance. Goffi said it was no different in his family, but he’d like to change things for his players and his two children.“You don’t have to be the macho man,” he said. “We’ve got to start taking care of ourselves.”There’s also a team-building aspect for the Gamecocks.“They need to attach themselves to something that is larger than themselves,” Goffi said.Goffi’s rule is that everyone must be clean-shaven except for their ’stache.“We have like half the team that actually has some growth and then we have another half that literally cannot grow facial hair,” Goffi said.Pinheiro is fortunate. He frequently sports full-face stubble and displayed a mustache at last season’s NCAA tournament.“It’s been fun so far,” he said. “Hopefully next year all the men’s programs here at South Carolina join and the fans join.”While mustaches come in and out of fashion in other sports, tennis has mostly been devoid of them since the 1970s heyday of John Newcombe and Stan Smith.“Those things were nice and full,” said Goffi, who was a touring pro from 2001 to 2005. “To be honest, even when I played, I don’t think there was a single guy that I came across who had a mustache.”The Gamecocks are taking their shaving kits on the road this weekend for the Bulldog Scramble in Athens, Georgia. It is their last tournament of the fall season, which focuses on individual play. Team competition takes place in the spring.“We’re a very deep team this year,” said Goffi, whose Gamecocks went 16-14 last season and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament.Pinheiro likes his teammates’ work ethic.“It’s good to know when we leave for a tournament that we did as much as we could as far as preparation,” he said.For now, that includes grooming.“Tennis players tend to take themselves a little too serious sometimes,” Goffi said. “This is a good way for us to laugh at each other.”last_img

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