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Women’s Basketball: A lethal trio of hair, nails and basketball

The Lantern
The No. 15 Ohio State women’s basketball team celebrates on the bench during a 108-58 win over IUPUI at The Schottenstein Center Nov. 12. Credit: Aiden Ridgeway | Lantern Photographer

After putting on her jersey, pulling up her socks and lacing up her shoes, Rebeka Mikulasikova was ready to take the court for the Buckeyes.

Before heading to the facility, the senior women’s basketball center stopped in front of a mirror to check that her affixed eyelashes were perfectly curled, her tight ponytail was smoothed down and her acrylic nails were cleanly polished.

Mikulasikova is just one member of the women’s basketball team who, in addition to making sure she is physically ready to compete against any upcoming opponent, is also dressed for success when she hits the court. The belief: styling eyelashes, hair and nails improves confidence and allows players to express their individuality.

“If you look good, you play good,” Mikulasikova said. “I think that shows how I go into games. I’m trying to look and feel my best, so I can play my best.”

However, Mikulasikova is not the only star-studded player.

The saying “look good, play well” is expressed among many on the team. Other players, including graduate guard Celeste Taylor and sophomore forward Cotie McMahon, have embraced that sentiment, and it’s evident through their on-court appearances.

Both Taylor and McMahon are routinely seen with colorful acrylics, combed eyelashes and different hairstyles each week.

McMahon said players practice and play in games with these embellishments, and the accessories have become a game-time necessity to help them get and stay focused.

“It was [a] looked good, you play good type of thing,” McMahon said. “I’ve always had my nails done. Then when I got to college everybody was getting their lashes done, so I wanted to try it and it looked good. So I just started getting my lashes and my nails done, making sure those are always done for games.”

How the women manage to maintain their nails through the physicality of a basketball game is something Mikulasikova hasn’t quite mastered.

“Rebeka’s are really long; she always breaks them in practice,” McMahon said.

The simple act of having lashes and nails may seem insignificant, but the empowerment they feel from playing with that extra layer of self-expression goes much deeper, Taylor said.

“It’s not hard to look good and play basketball,” Taylor said. “For me, the hardest part is playing basketball and being your authentic self. Being able to express yourself through the color and design of your nails is just like anything else. Why would you not want to leave the house with your hair done? Forget about other people; do it for yourself.”

Taylor, who is Hispanic, said her stylistic choices are a testament to who she is and gives her that extra edge when taking the floor.

“I am proud of my curly hair, proud to embrace it, embrace who I am, embrace what God gave me and find different ways to style it,” Taylor said. “That’s my favorite part.”

McMahon said her nails, lashes and hair allow her to feel powerful and showcase self-expression beyond her moves on the court. She said there will always be people who will judge, so it’s important to stay true to who you are.

After the Buckeyes on the Blacktop event Oct. 19 — a first look at the women’s team ahead of the season — fans and aspiring basketball players had the chance to crash the court and meet the players. As Taylor looked around at the crowd of young girls eager for autographs and pictures with the team, she said she hopes to set a good example for the younger generation of female athletes.

“They can go out there, look like a girl, and play like a girl,” she said. “Now everybody is able to individualize themselves and be who they are.”

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