Jedd Fisch hopes on-site barber shop puts Wildcats a cut above competition – Arizona Daily Star

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Arizona defensive lineman JB Brown, left, checks out his haircut while offensive lineman Josh McCauley walks in for a haircut at Lowell Stevens Football Facility. Arizona has added a new in-house barber shop for players and coaches three days a week.
Jedd Fisch’s first haircut at the Arizona Wildcats barbershop inside the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility came with the six words every barber hears on a daily basis: “Just a little off the top.”
Ronnie Palomino, one of a few barbers who ventures to Arizona Stadium twice a week to cut hair for the players and staffers, knew exactly how to style the UA’s first-year head coach.
“I’ve been doing this for a while and can tell what they had before, especially his style,” Palomino said. “I just knew what I had to do. The first time I ever cut his hair, he said it’s the best he’s ever had, so I was very happy.”
The barbershop is part of a $6 million revamp to the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility, which now boasts a new weight room, coaching offices and rehabilitation equipment. The money was raised from private donations and through Fisch’s personal connections.
Fisch says the idea for the barbershop came from, well, somebody else. The Wildcats open their season Saturday against BYU in Las Vegas; it’ll mark Fisch’s first-ever game as a head coach.
“It’s been this thing around other programs. Imitation is the greatest form of flattery, so I’m just imitating what I saw other programs do with barbershops,” Fisch said. “And the players like it. Players seem to think it was cool to get a haircut right before they go on a road trip and to clean themselves up. Image is everything, I guess. The guys felt like if they look good, they’ll play good. I’m all for it.”
Finding a barber during the season can be tough for players, many of whom are booked with school, practice, homework and film study. Having a barbershop available next to a team meeting or a workout is a bonus. Players must pay for their haircuts; Palomino charges $25 plus tip.
“The barbershop is dope,” said Arizona cornerback Isaiah Rutherford. “It’s nice being able to get in there and get cleaned up before pictures and stuff like that, so it’s pretty cool.”
UA defensive tackle Kyon Barrs said he gets a haircut “about every other week, so I go up there every now and then to get a nice chop.
“It gets packed in there, but the time goes by fast when you’re talking to your friends.”
Multiple barbers rotate in throughout the week. Some, like Palomino, come twice a week. Palomino also cuts hair at Elite on Irvington Road near 12th Ave.
“I was always drawing and doing stuff with my hands, so I caught on to it pretty quick. Ever since then, it just grew into a passion,” he said. “It’s definitely an experience rather than just a service.”
The Flowing Wells High School grad is friends with ex-Wildcat wide receiver Syndric Steptoe, who’s now the Wildcats’ senior director of player and community relations.
“He’s just been a friend over time. He’s definitely been the biggest help in my corner, and this was an idea I’ve had for years,” Palomino said of Steptoe. “The last two or three years was when I really mentioned it, and I wanted to become a team barber to cut all the guys’ hair.”
When the UA began searching for team barbers, Palomino jumped in.
Players have connections, too. Redshirt freshman wide receiver Jaden Mitchell’s relationship with twin brother barbers Tomari and Demari Harris got them into the mix at Lowell-Stevens.
The Harris twins first began their barber career — unintentionally — when they were tykes, after watching their father, Martio Harris, cut his clients’ hair.
“Tried to cut each other’s hair when we were in kindergarten, but we did it with scissors, so our cuts weren’t too hot. We actually had to patch it up and go bald for a few weeks,” Tomari said. “That was the first sprout of our barber journey.”
But it wasn’t until a moment as a middle schooler when he took barbering seriously.
“I cut my friend’s hair, and it didn’t go too well, not going to lie. I was like, ‘This is harder than I thought, even though I watched this my whole life,’” he said. “But that moment right there sprouted my love for barbering, and it all took off from there.”
The Harris family owns Dunbar Kingdom Kutz, 3232 N. Stone Ave., and Nation of Barbers, which has locations in Tucson and Phoenix with one planned for Casa Grande. Former UA basketball star Jason Terry got his haircuts from the Harrises father when he was a student-athlete in the late 1990s.
Hair flies as while Ronnie Palomino, the Arizona Wildcats’ barber, gives offensive lineman Josh McCauley a trim inside Arizona Football’s new in-house barbershop at the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility.
UA defensive line coach Ricky Hunley is related to the Harris family by marriage, so Tomari calls him “Uncle Ricky,” who is his other connection to the football team. “Uncle Ricky” and UA strength and conditioning coach Tyler Owens are regular customers of Harris.
When Harris first walked into the UA barbershop that overlooks Bear Down Field behind the stadium, “it was so amazing that it gave me butterflies.”
“It has a nice little view there, where you can see the field. All of it, man, it’s a nice setup,” he said.
The barbershop stocks clippers, barbicide, scissors and other essentials, but barbers are also encouraged to bring their equipment. More than a business, the shop serves as an outlet for anyone to unwind and let their hair down.
“It’s a place where I can get away from everything. It’s an atmosphere where you can talk about everything and be around your boys. … It’s a place where you can express yourself and let others know what’s going on in your life that you might feel uncomfortable letting other people know, but with your barber it sticks,” Harris said. “I take pride in that. I’m blessed to have that connection in people’s lives.”
Barber Ronnie Palomino gives defensive lineman JB Brown a haircut while a few players wait for their turn. Palomino charges players $25 for the cuts, plus tip.
Seeing the finished product — and the customer’s satisfied reaction — is affirmation of why he became a barber in the first place.
“I love the feeling of seeing someone get off the seat, see their haircut and go, ‘Yeah, I look fresh.’ That’s what really fascinates me, that finishing touch when you’re finished and you see their happiness,” he said. “That always makes me happy as a barber.”
Harris is thankful for an opportunity to become one of the Wildcats’ first official team barbers.
“It’s an honor and it makes me feel so happy, because I know there’s so many great barbers out here. For them to choose me, I take that as a blessing and just gotta keep going with it,” he said.
For Palomino, connecting with people “from all walks of life” has been the best part about the gig, which he doesn’t take for granted.
“You got these kids coming in from all over the country, and I’m just fortunate to be around all of it,” he said. “These guys come into the shop and they’re able to relax, take their mind off something and be their true self. I feel like this is going to bring a lot of confidence to the team. It has a true barbershop feel to it. That’s important, because a barbershop is a safe place for these guys. To do this in our town, with our team, I get to surround myself with greatness and positive energy all day.”
Contact sports producer Justin Spears at 573-4312 or jspears@tucson.com. On Twitter: @JustinESports
What: Season opener: Arizona vs. BYU
When: 7:30 p.m.
TV: ESPN
Radio: 1290-AM
Vaccinations won’t be required to attend University of Arizona sporting events at this time, but the school does “expect” fans to have been vaccinated for COVID-19 or to have tested negative for the virus within the previous 72 hours.
UA athletic director Dave Heeke issued updated guidance in his “Wildcat Wednesday” newsletter. Heeke wrote the following:
“We expect all those who attend Arizona tailgating and sporting events to be vaccinated or have tested negative for the COVID virus in the last 72 hours. This expectation is necessary to ensure the safety of all those attending and participating.”
He added: “If you have not been vaccinated, tested negative for the COVID virus within the last 72 hours, or if you are currently having COVID symptoms, or if you are in any way concerned about your personal health, we encourage you to not attend these activities.”
The UA football team opens its home schedule a week from Saturday against San Diego State. It’s the first of consecutive home games at Arizona Stadium, an outdoor venue.
Per university policy, fans are required to wear masks in all indoor spaces. That includes “restrooms, elevators, common indoor spaces and indoor entertainment areas,” Heeke wrote.
Fans also will be required to wear masks, regardless of vaccination status, at the season opener against BYU this Saturday in Las Vegas. Allegiant Stadium is an indoor facility.
All policies pertaining to UA home events are subject to change.
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Sports producer
Justin writes stories and produces digital content about UA football and basketball and high school football. A Tucson native, Justin graduated from the UA in 2017 and is the host of the Wildcast Podcast and a radio host on ESPN Tucson.

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Arizona defensive lineman JB Brown, left, checks out his haircut while offensive lineman Josh McCauley walks in for a haircut at Lowell Stevens Football Facility. Arizona has added a new in-house barber shop for players and coaches three days a week.
Hair flies as while Ronnie Palomino, the Arizona Wildcats’ barber, gives offensive lineman Josh McCauley a trim inside Arizona Football’s new in-house barbershop at the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility.
Barber Ronnie Palomino gives defensive lineman JB Brown a haircut while a few players wait for their turn. Palomino charges players $25 for the cuts, plus tip.
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