ALBANY — Unofficially, it’s believed sophomore Connor Filipowski took top honors Monday at the University at Albany men’s lacrosse team’s picture day, where it’s become a tradition for the squad’s players to compete to see who can put together the zaniest look.
Sophomore Doug Goldsmith conceded the win to Filipowski. As he saw it, Goldsmith’s own look — plenty of dark facial hair above and below his mouth, with a large mohawk resting atop his head — paled in comparison.
“Flip’s was crazy,” Goldsmith said. “My mohawk was long, but his was crazier and he had the moustache thing, too.”
Right — that “moustache thing.”
That actually concerned some teammates, at first, who wondered what Filipowski was doing Monday with Elmer’s Glue as he got ready for his photo.
To be clear: Filipowski’s teammates had no issue with the rest of his appearance, which included a sizable mohawk, a full beard darkened with mascara, and completed with a white dress shirt, dark formal jacket and purple bow tie.
But, yeah, the Elmer’s . . .
“Dude,” they asked Filipowski, “ what are you doing?”
And, of course, the answer made sense.
“I wanted to do a handlebar moustache,” Filipowski said, “so I cut some hair off the back [of my head] and I Elmer’s glued it on.”
For several years, it’s been a tradition for the Great Danes to use their picture day as a time to have some fun. Barstoolsports.com caught onto the Great Danes’ act a couple years ago, and that national attention has only emboldened them.
“But mostly,” Goldsmith said, “this is just for fun with the guys.”
Not everyone takes part in it. Like about a dozen of his teammates, senior Connor Fields — a Tewaaraton Award finalist last year — showed up wearing a suit with a fresh haircut and shave.
Nationally, Fields is known for his behind-the-back passes and shots. His imagination is perhaps his top skill on the lacrosse field, but he’s never really let it run much in terms of figuring out a way to dominate picture day.
“I tried one year to grow out a beard, and I just couldn’t do it,” Fields said. “I get little patches and I can’t grow it on my cheeks. . . . You have to have a certain look for it, and I don’t have that look.”
Sophomore TD Ierlan, UAlbany’s star face-off specialist, showed up looking ready to head to a prom. He had a simple reason for not having extra-long hair, aggressive facial hair or funky clothing.
“My parents,” Ierlan said, “would kill me.”
At this point, though, nobody really bats an eye at what the Great Danes do on their picture day. They’ve probably earned that right with their play — they were ranked No. 2 in the Inside Lacrosse Preseason Face-Off Yearbook Rankings — and are expected to contend this year for a national championship.
Bill Ziskin — UAlbany’s photographer — rolled with the proceedings, offering one of his few comments to Goldsmith.
“That’s working,” Ziskin told Goldsmith of his appearance.
UAlbany players started last summer to let their hair grow long in anticipation of a January photo day. Sophomore Davis Diamond’s got too long, so he shaved part of his head — but kept everything up top.
“I have to put that hair in a little bun because it gets in my face,” said Diamond, who completed his look with dark glasses and a tie adorned with wrestlers he borrowed from Ierlan.
Junior Chaunce Hill has sported UAlbany-themed medallions in each of his pictures. His plan for this year’s photo, though, went awry. He wore a beaded UAlbany medallion, but had to settle for a regular bow tie instead of a matching beaded one.
“I thought picture day was a different day,” Hill said. “I thought it was Wednesday. If it was, then I would have had it ready.”
Like most of his teammates who made an event out of Monday’s photo day, Goldsmith said he has no plans to head to a barber anytime soon. He might shave off some of his facial hair, but the mohawk stays.
“For the playoffs, I’ll get it blonde and reshape it,” Goldsmith said. “Can’t go one-and-done with it. Got to keep it.”