INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — All eyes will be focused on the players involved in the College Football Playoff national championship game when Alabama and Georgia face off at Lucas Oil Stadium on Monday night.
There is a team behind the teams that has the important task of styling the players’ hair. Shintara Nicole is a well-known professional hair braider and the owner of The Bradie Bar.
She is among dozens selected to be on the College Football Playoff styling team and will be working with Georgia’s players.
“I actually learned back in my senior year in high school, and then came to [the University of Cincinnati] as a track and field athlete,” Nicole said. “So I practiced on my teammates and other athletes and I got really good. So anytime I needed some spare money, I would just braid.”
The hair culture shift of athletics is visible, especially with high-performing athletes on big stages. Nicole says the shift is here to stay.
“Looking at some of the younger athletes that are coming up now and their hear, a lot of them, they wear their hair as is … Natural hair is in and even though a lot of, you know, companies or different people would try to have you look a certain type of way, this is how hair grows out of our scalp. So with athletes getting the privilege to wrap their natural hair, whether it be locked up, or whether they want braids or twist or whatever, to me is amazing because it’s to me it’s one of the greatest forms of self-expression, is how you wear your hair,” Nicole said.
The hair styling teams are split into groups of about 18. Each team will have barbers, one braider and one loctician. The presence of these hair professionals is trendsetting. A decade ago, only a few hundred players wore their hair in long cultural styles in professional football. Now, many more athletes indulge in the freedom of their hair, which is important to their identities.
Nicole says the variety of stylists speaks volumes about the NCAA.
“I think it says a lot that they care about the details because it could easily be ‘come as you are,’ like, you know, we’re just here to play football, get on this field and win this game. It really shows how much the NCAA values their athletes to even bring in a team of professionals … to cover the different ethnicities that will be represented so that everybody has a chance to feel their best and look their best,” Nicole said.