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Players shave heads for CAMP KEMO

Even in the middle of perhaps its toughest five-game week of the season, the South Carolina baseball team found a way to give back. Over a dozen players and support staff had their head shaved to help raise money for CAMP KEMO.

Colby Holmes shaves the head of teammate John Taylor on Wednesday afternoon on Greene Street.

CAMP KEMO is a one week summer camp for children with cancer ages 5-18 and their siblings. This summer will mark the 31st time the camp has been held and the Gamecocks are doing their part to raise money to help send kids to camp.

The day after the team pelted College of Charleston and just a few hours before taking the field against Rhode Island, various players headed for Greene Street in front of the Russell House to get rid of whatever hair was on top of their head. Players like Christian Walker and John Taylor didn’t require much time in the chair but other guys like Michael Roth and Patrick Sullivan had been growing out their mop tops for a while.

Roth said the idea was floated around for the first time last week but many of the players jumped on board yesterday.

“It started with a few guys and it just expanded,” senior Jose Mata, sporting a bald head and a week-old beard, said. “Obviously, we’re goofy and we’ll do anything. If one person does it, it will build momentum real easily. It’s for a good cause. We visit the hospital and do things like that. When this came up, we all just sort of jumped on.”

Other players who jumped in were Jake Williams, Adam Westmoreland, Forrest Koumas, Bryan Harper, Tyler Webb, and Will Casey, who was also credited, along with Roth, for getting the idea started. Manager Ryan Fischer and bullpen catcher Ricky Huber also left Green Street with a shiny dome.

The Carolina baseball team is accustomed to giving back and it’s also had cancer impact them in incredible ways. The team played for Bayler Teal during last year’s national championship run. Teal was a seven-year old Gamecock fan who was stricken with neuroblastoma, an aggressive form of pediatric cancer.

“The whole situation with Bayler last year really opened our eyes,” Sullivan said. “It’s just a small thing we can do to support them and CAMP KEMO.”

Sullivan, who hadn’t cut his hair since winning the national championship last year in Omaha, was reluctant to shave his head at first. But after considering the cause, he made a pact with one of his teammates and, true to USC baseball player persona, dropped in a quick quip.

Junior Michael Roth, who was first up to the barber's chair, takes care of what little hair freshman Forrest Koumas had on top of his head.

“I told Tyler (Webb) if he let me straight-raze his head, he could buzz mine,” Sullivan said. “He looks a little funnier than I do, so it was a good exchange.”

There were a few players noticeably absent who were being given a hard time by the players in attendance. Scott Wingo, Adrian Morales, Evan Marzilli, and others were no where to be found. There may or may not be plans to sabotage them later, according to one player.

“There were a few guys who were against doing it,” Mata said. “I know that Wingo and Adrian would not touch their hair for anything.”

A unanimous opinion could not be reached on just which player donning a new doo looked the best. Harper received multiple votes for best looking but also received multiple votes for worst looking.

“The worst? Harper, for sure,” Sullivan said. “Especially with that little Rollie Fingers mustache he’s got going on.”

The USC Journalism and Hotel, Restaurant, and Tourisum classes are teaming up to raise money for CAMP KEMO by hosting a Sip, Shout, and Shag night at the Armory. The event is on Thursday, April 14 from 6-10 p.m. Tickets are $25 for adults, $15 for students and military. Children 10 and under are free. For more information, please visit their website.

Photos by Juan Blas

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