On Monday, February 27, much to the amusement of the Williston Northampton School community, Boys Varsity Ice Hockey Coach Derek Cunha showed up for work with a thick mustache and newly shaven Mohawk.
The history behind Coach Cunha’s mustache and Mohawk dates to November 2011 when he and several of the boys hockey team grew mustaches in support of “Movember,” an event to raise awareness about men’s health.
Coach Cunha remembered it was fun seeing how their facial features changed by the day, in what he acknowledges wasn’t always the most attractive way. During “Movember” the team had two pre-season games in which they beat Academy St. Louis and South Kent. On December 1st the razors came out and the mustaches were gone.
The team had a difficult start to its season with a record of 1-9-1. All nine losses came against teams that are now playing in the New England Prep Tournament. On January 11, after a five game slide, Williston picked up it’s second win of the season defeating Worcester Academy 6-1 on the road. After the game, in the hopes of motivating the team, Coach Cunha agreed to grow his mustache out if, in each week, the team picked up at least two points.
In addition, senior assistant captain Matt Dupont bet Cunha that if the team managed to keep his mustache in place for the rest of the season the coach would have to agree to a Mohawk as well. At the time Coach Cunha remembers that he smiled, laughed, and agreed.
Fast forward to February 27, and as you can see, Coach Cunha held up his end of the bargain. Since the Worcester game, Williston has posted a record of 9-5-1 to finish with a respectable record of 10-14-2 on the season. Of the 14 losses, 11 were against playoff teams. In what were deemed “The Mustache Games: Win or It Comes Off,” the team went a perfect 5-0.
Along the way there were memorable victories over Deerfield and Albany Academies, and a lot of fun to be had for most–but not all–people, recounted Coach Cunha. “My wife absolutely hated it and the boys really loved egging her on about it.”
Cunha said, “This was a really fun group to work with this year. They developed so much over the course of the season, and in the end I had to own up to my word.”