When I walked into Seabreeze’s gym a few weeks ago, I saw a combination of flying volleyballs and the heavily bearded Brian Eschen, the Sandcrabs’ teacher and athletic trainer. The scene from “Cast Away,” when Tom Hanks’ character was yelling for Wilson, the volleyball, was the first thought that came to mind.
What Eschen began as “No shave November” two years ago has become an attention grabber everywhere he goes, an interesting topic for his students and has meant more intentional cleanliness for his hygiene.
“They (his students) always get a good laugh from the beard,” he said, “and I like that it shows how I’m multidimensional with a lighter side; they’re used to teachers being strict.”
To his students, Eschen is often referred to as many TV and movie characters, such as Forrest Gump, which he recently dressed up as for Halloween (see more pictures on ormondbeachobserver.com).
On a weekly basis, someone will point to Eschen’s face, and he will immediately know why; there would be food stuck in his beard. And then, there’s rugby, where Eschen has been accidentally pulled down by his face locks, which can’t be much fun.
There are times like that, and others, when the beard doesn’t work to his advantage, and he would be tempted to cut it and sever ties as the bearded guy.
“You just have to power through it and say, ‘Nope. I made it this far,’” Eschen said. Also, after watching a popular YouTube video about a crying baby who had instantly forgotten who her dad was, when he went to the bathroom and shaved his beard, Eschen fears his 6-month-old daughter may suffer a similar situation.
On the other hand, beards have their benefits. Eschen can sit in the sun for a longer period of time without getting sunburned, and, in cooler weather, he has an extra face coat to keep warm.
I applaud Eschen’s wife, Sarah, for allowing him to grow a two-year-old beard; that’s a life-changer. If I were to present the idea to my wife, she’d probably make me shave what little I have now.