Odds are, you do not recognize the name Andy Hetterley. Anyone who has been to a track meet in Eastern Oregon - and I know because I've overheard your comments - has watched Hetterley perform in the hurdles and the triple jump for Mac-Hi.

You just know him by a different name: Mohawk guy.

As many of you have noticed, Hetterley sports a full-fledged punk Mohawk, complete with shaved sides. The hair running down the middle of his head is spiked with about 3,000 gallons of hairspray, and, right now, his first name and a dollar sign are shaved into the right side.

So who is the man behind the Mohawk?

Is he an anarchist bent on the dismantling of society? Does he live by the punk credo of loud, fast and hard?

Not really.

He's just a laid back guy with a funky haircut.

"I guess I'm just a person who's carefree," Hetterley said, "having fun and doing what I like."

As one might expect, Hetterley plays in a punk band. He is the bassist for Our Friend Pat, which plays at The Underground in Walla Walla.

He's into current punk, bands like The Used and My Chemical Romance. Hetterley also loves the punk classics like Black Flag and the Sex Pistols.

But unlike a stereotypical punk, Hetterley is a three-sport athlete. When he's not jumping hurdles, he's a wrestler, and he plays football in the fall.

Football is his favorite sport, because, not unlike one in a mosh pit, he likes to hit people.

He's not a typical high school athlete. The only punk music most high-schoolers listen to is Green Day, and as any punk will tell you, if Green Day is punk, George W. Bush is a tax-and-spend liberal.

His hairstyle is not without its difficulties, although there is no special cosmetic secret to Hetterley's hair.

I figured a Mohawk took, at least, a substantial amount of beeswax or some other kind of gunk. I've had beeswax in my hair, and it will hold through a hurricane.

(I admit, I liked a girl who was into punk and I let her spike my hair.)

But, despite the seemingly perfect hold of his Mohawk, all Hetterley requires is a blowdryer and a whole heap of inexpensive hairspray.

"I use hair spray, the cheapest stuff you can find," Hetterley said.

Hetterley lives with his grandparents and even his old-fashioned grandfather, Larry Hetterley, doesn't mind.

"It's just hair," Hetterley has heard his grandfather say.

This, I'm told, is a radical statement from anyone who was alive and over 22 in the 1960s.

To people at the time, having long hair meant you hated your country and consumed illegal drugs by the metric ton.

But Hetterley's grandfather is right, and it's refreshing to see that Mac-Hi coach John Milleson hasn't made him cut his hair.

After all, this is America, the birthplace of free expression and individuality.

A person's spirit, especially in youth sports, is often stifled in the name of a team. The team this, the team that. High school athletes have heard coach cliches thousands of times when they reach high school. That's the beauty of track. It's about individual performance, not necessarily a team.

Besides, championships are not built on short hair and blind obedience. If someone is a good teammate, it doesn't matter what's on his head.

Remember, the Chicago Bulls won three championships with Dennis Rodman, and his hair was so insane it had its own billboard on the Chicago tollway.

Last season, the Echo basketball team, despite having a guard with an afro - sometimes in cornrows - and another player with purple hair, had its best season in 21 years.

If weird hair helps a teen through what can be a depressing treadmill that is high school, there is no harm in it. The only thing Hetterley's hair is doing - aside from drawing a lot of attention - is raising his house's hair spray budget.

It has absolutely no effect on his ability to run or his teammates' ability to compete.

I could say that Hetterley's hair embodies the American spirit, but why stretch a theme to its breaking point?

After all, it's only hair.


Michael Brenner is a sports writer for the East Oregonian.


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