Illini hockey players grow mustaches for charity, unity

By Sean Neumann

The Illinois hockey team members are growing ‘staches for stacks.

For the second consecutive year, the Illini are raising money for charity by growing mustaches this November as a part of the Movember Foundation’s annual fundraiser. The foundation specializes in raising awareness for men’s health.

“We just wanted to do something for a good cause,” senior goaltender Nick Clarke said. “We’re just trying to do whatever bit we can to help out.”

The Movember Foundation, which has expanded globally since its start in 2003, raises funds and awareness for prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health issues.

The idea behind growing mustaches in order to raise money is that the facial hair will spark conversation everywhere players go. According to the foundation’s website, “Growing a Movember moustache means changing the face of men’s health.”

So far, the Movember Foundation has raised $459,551 through its “Big Mustache on Campus” campaign. The Illini have already helped raise $50 but are hoping to raise more by the end of the month.

Clarke said the donations will come more toward the end of the month, when people begin to notice the players’ mustaches more.

“A couple of guys just have a little bit of fuzz coming in,” laughed Clarke, who is sporting a black mustache resembling an upside down hair comb. “But now everyone’s starting to get a little thicker lip-sweater.”

Illini players have been promoting their charity drive through social media outlets such as their personal Twitter accounts and the team’s Facebook page, even posting a picture of head coach Nick Fabbrini’s facial hair on the team’s official Twitter account.

Defenseman Kyle Clark, who has one of the biggest mustaches on the team, said the Illini have been campaigning to get all the players and fans to participate in the month-long event.

“It’s kind of a team thing,” Clarke said. “The more people we get to do it, the better.”

According to Clark, junior forward Jacob Matysiak introduced the idea to the team last season after seeing players in the NHL growing mustaches for Movember over the past couple of seasons.

Fabbrini said he’s happy to see the players coming together for a cause because it brings about team unity.

A team altering its hair style and color is a common tradition in the world of hockey, which gains the most attention during the NHL playoffs. 

The most famous case of this in college hockey came in 2011 when the players on Minnesota Duluth dyed their hair blonde and went on to win the school’s first NCAA National Title in overtime.

During Fabbrini’s freshman year with the Illini, he said the freshmen weren’t allowed to cut their hair during the season. That team went on to win the ACHA National Championship with a 28-6-3 record.

Fabbrini, who is still rocking a full beard along with his mustache, said he wasn’t going to shave his beard off like his players did.

“Bald guys with mustaches aren’t a good look,” Fabbrini laughed. “I’m just going to go with a beard here.”

While the team raises money for charity, Clark said the guys are having their fun with it, too.

“We kind of compare them, like who’s got the biggest mustache, and we classify everyone,” Clark said. “A couple of the guys look like cops or dads. It’s kind of fun.”

The Illini are accepting donations for the Movember Foundation at us.Movember.com until the end of November.

Sean can be reached at [email protected] and @Neumannthehuman.