Most teams spend their free time away from the grid-iron by playing video games, going bowling or catching a movie. But the football players at the University of Miami are unique, every week they get their haircuts together.
UM has its own team barber, 23-year-old Steven Rivera. While some players like redshirt freshman safety Vaughn Telemaque and sophomore wide reciever Travis Benjamin refuse to cut their luscious locks, over half the football team goes to Rivera.
Rivera is the owner of Get Right Kutz, a local barber shop in downtown Miami.
“I have been cutting hair since I was 13,” Rivera said. “I love art and designing. I used to be a graffiti artist, but I stopped that and picked up something more traditional. I cut my own hair when I was a teenager. My mom told me I had a great talent so I started cutting other people’s hair professionally.”
Four years ago Rivera was introduced to the UM football team.
“When I’m not cutting hair I’m a correction officer for the state of Florida,” Rivera said. “I work in prisons and four years ago I met Javarris James’ brother who was incarcerated at the time. Through his brother I got to know Baby J and soon became good friends with former Canes wide receiver Lance Leggett.”
Leggett and Rivera became good friends and Rivera cut Leggett’s hair on a weekly basis. Through word of mouth Rivera’s unique styles became more popular and soon he became the go-to barber.
Rivera opened up a barber shop recently in South Miami Heights, approximately 25 minutes away from campus. But Rivera is no ordinary barber. He is friends with the players and comes twice a week to UM’s campus and sets up shop in one of the on campus apartments.
“Usually every Wednesday and Thursday I come to my buddy’s room in apartment 22P. I like to freshen up the players right before game days but they usually travel on Fridays. Half the team comes to me and I usually spend around an hour on each one of them. I met two good friends, Mike Duncan and Justin Williams, that allow me to cut people’s hair in their apartment.”
Duncan, a senior, met Rivera his freshman year at a fashion show held on campus.
“The director of the show hired Steve,” Duncan recalled. “Steve cut my hair and I had been looking for a good barber for a while and I finally found one. I invited him to use my place so people all over campus could use him. Things started unraveling and soon everyone went to him.”
Sophomore quarterback Jacory Harris is one of Rivera’s most frequent visitors.
“Steve is like my brother,” Harris said. “Someone I love, someone I trust. I go to him every week to tighten up and look nice. I can’t ever look sloppy. I have a lot of confidence in him. I know he will never mess up.”
Harris enjoys singing while getting a haircut. Last week he was rapping to Jay-Z, Rhianna, and Kanye’s latest hit “Run This Town.”
Harris has distinct hair styles. Last week against Oklahoma he had ‘Swag’ inscribed on the right side of his head and the ‘U’ on the other. Last year Harris had is nickname ‘J12’ written in cursive.
Harris’s hair represents the swagger of the University of Miami.
“I like to wait until TV games to get my hair decorated and make it stand out,” Harris said of his unique styles. “I am growing my hair out and waiting to do something special. I love Steve and I want to not only demonstrate the swagger here but market his great ability to design hair.”
Sophomore linebacker Jordan Futch likes to be creative too. Last year he had the ibis embedded in his head. He originally wanted President Barack Obama on one side and head coach Randy Shannon on the other.
Rivera, who charges eight dollars per haircut, loves catering to the UM community.
“I’m an only child so I cut hair on the side to support my mom and dad. My inspiration is fellow barber Jacarro Smith. I have learned a lot from him.”
Redshirt freshman Tommy Streeter would have a wild hairdo without Rivera.
“Without Steve, I would have a giant afro. He is simply the best.”
Justin Antweil may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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