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Beard ambition

Trevor Woolman represents Lake Oswego in national beard competition


by: REVIEW, TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Cait Kelly happily nuzzles her face in Trevor Woolman's beard. With Kelly's help, Woolman challenged the best beards in the world.
Trevor Woolman had zero experience as a competitive beard grower when he boldly entered the Beard & Moustache Championships in Las Vegas on Nov. 11. After all, what were his chances going against guys who have never shaved in their lives?

But with the love of a good woman, a brother who looks exactly like him and a gift for showmanship, Woolman proved he ranks with the best in “bearding,” a sport that is catching on like gangbusters across the United States. Taking fourth place in the freestyle partial beard division was a great start for a novice bearder. It ignited his beard ambitions.

“I had a blast,” said Woolman, who is a tutor and substitute teacher in Lake Oswego. “It was great seeing all of the facial hair and drinking beer.”

Woolman has always been a beard aficionado but never in such a powerful way. In the past he had experimented with a well-kept Van Dyke goatee, Fu Manchu, Pharaoh, and Burnside Bridge. Every time he would shave it off and start on another look.

However, his beard and life changed a year ago when he walked into the Hawthorne Hophouse, a popular Portland bar. He couldn’t help but notice that the bartender was giving him a very funny look. With furrowed brow, he demanded: “Are you looking at me?”

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Ecstatic beard growers and the people who love them crowd the Clark County Ampitheater. In the middle of the back row Trevor Woolman does some cavorting.

She was. The bartender’s name was Cait Kelly and she had known Woolman’s identical twin brother Ronan for a couple years. She finally blurted out, “You’re Ronan’s twin brother!”

This was the beginning of a fine romance. Kelly became Woolman’s girlfriend and his muse for beard growing. If he had not met her, he would have been just another guy changing his beard every few months, not a man who would dream of challenging the finest beards in the world. Fortunately, Kelly turned out to be the biggest beard fan around.

“The way men think of women’s breasts, that’s the way I think of beards,” Kelly said.

High praise, indeed. And Kelly is far from alone in thinking this way.

“Beards evoke manliness,” Kelly said. “Not every man can grow a beard. Some men can do it very well. With beards, men are raw and powerful, like cavemen. They don’t have to conform to society.”

With this kind of inspiration, Woolman was propelled toward being a Macho Man.

“I started thinking what would happen if I just let my beard grow and see how big it would get,” he said. “Could I get it to be good enough to be a beard competitor?”

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Former NFL football player Ryan Long runs wild with the Woolman brothers (Trevor Woolman, right) happily perched on his shoulders.
Woolman decided to go for it, and what’s more he was able to convince Ronan to join him, with the goal of the brothers going to the Clark County Amphitheater in Las Vegas in November 2012 for the Super Bowl of beard growing. The Woolman brothers went for the full fuzzy. But there were a few setbacks.

“My friends said I looked like I was homeless,” Woolman said.

There was also the big itch.

“After a few weeks my beard started itching,” Woolman said. “It really itched for two weeks.”

Thankfully, the itching stopped and his beard is now quite comfortable. As for his appearance, many people think Woolman’s beard makes him look distinguished, professorial even hip.

Kelly gushed, “It makes him look so professional. It gives him a lot of authority.”

“My students love it,” Woolman said. “I get compliments about it all the time.”

But would his beard play in Vegas? Or would it go over like some no-talent Elvis impersonator? With hearts light but full of confidence and determination, Woolman and Kelly began their quest. Yet they were faced with a dilemma. How the heck do you prepare for a giant beard contest? This question plagued them almost until the moment the brothers bounded into the Clark Amphitheater. First of all, they were faced with a blizzard of categories that covered just about everything but the Gabby Hayes look.

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Trevor Woolman gets a big hug from his girlfriend Cait Kelly, who fortunately happens to be a giant fan of beards.“There was the Fu Manchu, the Musketeer, the full beard, the freestyle, the Salvador Dali,” Woolman said.

“I really liked the Garibaldi,” Kelly noted.

Woolman finally opted for the partial freestyle.

“The freestyle was the most popular category,” he said. “But some of those guys have been styling their beards for decades. We wouldn’t have had a chance.”

Experience was a big drawback, but the Woolmans had novelty on their side. Probably the only person on earth who can tell them apart is their mother, and what’s more they are natural born performers because their parents, Mark and Robin Woolman, are actors. They brothers performed a dance when taking center stage and also put together a Three Stooges-like push-and-pull routine.

Yet getting the beard to look just right was a problem. Kelly took on the task of being adviser and stylist, and her search for the winning look lasted until the last possible minute. The sight of 300 guys with awesome beards was overwhelming.

There was another factor, too. While Woolman and Kelly had spent a year priming his beard for competition, brother Ronan hadn’t done a single thing other than letting his beard grow. Nov. 11 arrived with a bang.

“We tried so many fun things and twists and tried to see what looked good,” Woolman said.

“The night before the event we got a bad attack of nerves,” Kelly said. “We were gambling and smoking and hungry and temperamental. With about 15 minutes left, I got the idea of their beards having a spade shape, so there would be a Las Vegas theme. I said, ‘I don’t know if we can pull this off.’ But Susan Dunn (Ronan’s girlfriend) executed my idea.”

When the Woolman brothers danced out on stage to the cheers of the crowd all fears were put to rest. The brothers and their girlfriends had an absolutely wonderful time as they cavorted with fun-loving beard growers. The most notable was former Pittsburgh Steeler Ryan Long, who hoisted up the Woolman brothers like teacups while roaring the whole time.

“Ryan was a teddy bear,” Kelly said. “He was the funniest, warmest, most jovial guy you’ve ever seen.”

The downer was the Woolman’s finished just out of the medals, finishing fourth and fifth. Medals only went to the top three finishers. This makes Woolman stroke his beard and think of the future.

“Next year’s event will be in New Orleans,” Woolman said. “New Orleans is one of my favorite American cities,” raved Kelly.

However, a curve has already been thrown their way. Ronan shaved off his beard immediately after the Vegas competition. “He didn’t ask my permission,” groused Woolman. Thus, there will be no identical twin brother novelty in 2013.

Still, with the lovely Kelly by his side and a year of experience behind him, Trevor Woolman is plotting a beard that will amaze everybody next year. The good times will roll in New Orleans.

Like all great beard growers, Woolman said, “I want a beard that will speak for itself.”




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