The best beard in basketball is on the face of a Minnesota teenager

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally
Austin basketball player Tommy Olmstead- Half man, half beard, all amazing — Packer Fast Break Club
Austin basketball player Tommy Olmstead- Half man, half beard, all amazing — Packer Fast Break Club

From the very strange but true file comes the remarkable photo you see at right. No, that man is not 30. No, he’s not a lumberjack. He’s a high school basketball player who happens to be in the midst of the winning streaks to end all winning streaks.

The teenager in the photo happens to be a senior at Austin (Mn.) High. His name is Tommy Olmstead, and he hasn’t taken a razor to his face since November, when he took part in a “No Shave November” fundraiser.

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That type of dedication would certainly lead to a sizable beard on its own, but by the end of November, Olmstead and his teammates were already in action on the basketball court. Yet, according to the Austin High School basketball blog, called Packer Fast Break Club, after some prodding, Olmstead agreed to keep the beard as long as the team was winning. Naturally, he assumed that he’d get a chance to shave soon enough.

He was very, very wrong.

“I was just going to go through no shave November and then shave,” Olmstead said in a YouTube interview. “But then like halfway through the month the team decided that I should shave once we lose. Obviously we still haven’t lost.”

Now, three months later, the Austin Packers are 28-0 and Olmstead is sporting the best beard in basketball since … Baron Davis? Or James Harden?

To be fair, Olmstead’s bear is clearly better than Davis’ strongest effort (Davis groomed, which is almost a sign of weakness with monster beards, after all), though the senior has borrowed Davis’ classic calling card from his Warriors days, or Harden’s today, with the Austin squad rallying behind the “Fear the Beard” mantra.

The school has been energized by the impromptu facial hair focus, with the “Fear the Beard” campaign turning a reserve guard on the Packers squad into the face, hairy or not, of the school’s deep run through the state tournament.

“It’s kind of a big deal at school,” Olmstead said. “Everyone wanted to see who could grow the most facial hair … I won that award.”

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