Tyler Korby hopes his U-13 Minnesota Blast softball players all grow up to be lovers of the sport. But if they don’t take that path, he knows a few of his team members might grow up to be hairstylists.
They’ve already got experience in shaving their coach’s head.
Korby challenged his players to raise $1,500 in funds to compete in the North American Fastpitch Association’s Northern Nationals tournament from Thursday through Sunday in Eden Prairie — and if they did, he and his assistants would submit to a clipper cut.
“They were a few hundred dollars short a few hours from the deadline,” Korby said. “But they wanted to shave my head.”
And so, the players raised the money. Then, they sat down Korby and assistants Pat Dushkin, Jeff Woollett and Art Wojtysiak and shaved them all bald.
“They took the clippers to the head,” Korby said. “The girls did this on their own, doing odd jobs and talking to businesses.”
They beat Korby’s goal by $49, and got a fun morale boost before heading off to the tournament.
“There were a lot of smiles around the team, so they got to take the buzzer to our scalps,” he said.
The Blast are a U-13 team that plays U-14 opposition in the Lake Superior Fast Pitch League, with playoffs in that league held in the sweltering early week heat.
The team is 25-18-5 this summer, and the game experience certainly helps with player development.
“We have been practicing at Churchill since March and when the weather finally warmed up the girls got outside and have played a lot,” Korby said. “We probably have 10-12 more games to play and it has been a great summer for the girls. They have shown their commitment.
“The main thing we tell the girls is to enjoy the summer and improve,” he added. “We are a little younger than some of the teams we play, but they have gotten better since day one and we are teaching them to play the Cloquet way.”
The team also took fifth place in a state tournament event last weekend in Woodbury.
And along the way, they learned to use clippers.
“They had an absolute blast last weekend doing that,” he said. “You never want to lose all your hair, but I’m young enough where I’ll get it back in a few weeks.”
As a representative of the local hair-loss set, Tyler, let me tell you … it’s not that bad.
However, the barbers were inexperienced, which led to a bit of trepidation.
“There was no guard on the clippers,” he said. “They shaved us right down. But I have no complaints.”
The team is led by pitchers Raeann Barney, who was one of Korby’s barbers, and Josie Steen. Barney, at age 12, is the youngest player on the team. Catchers Allie Wojtysiak and Keagen Anderson are their batterymates.
Grace Dushkin, Olivia Diver, Alyssa Merrill, Savannah Lyytinen, Jystine Benko, Jasmine Eastman, Libby Rix, Shelby Peil and Marissa Steltz are the team’s other players.
And, thanks to their fundraising, this group gets to experience a regional tournament.
“They are a tremendous group to coach, talented on the field, and great group of kids,” Korby said. “They love to be around the diamond, every day of the summer and more. We as coaches are asking a lot from them and they are answering the bell. That’s how you build things.”
Of course, any coach will say that with a clippers pointed at his head, but Korby means it. His other barbers were Rix and Diver and he hopes they have a future as beauticians.
“They did a pretty good job,” Korby said. “I rate myself as the second best-looking guy of the four coaches.”
Bald is beautiful.