Episode 2: UNC Soccer Photo Story

Episode 2

An eclectic mix of English and Spanish music pulsates through the UNC soccer locker room, invigorating the souls of those listening as they prepare for battle. Matt Constant sits on the floor signing souvenir soccer balls that will be thrown out to fans before the game. I look over at Alex Rose and I have no idea what he is doing. He wields a lighter and he’s holding the flame to his socks.

CHAPEL HILL, NC – SEPTEMBER 06: Santiago Herrera #9 of the North Carolina Tar Heels during a game against the Harvard Crimson September 6, 2019, at the UNC Soccer and Lacrosse Stadium in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. North Carolina won 6-0. (Photo by Peyton Williams)

There is this whole world right in front fans when watching a soccer game, but a world also imperceptible until you look more closely. I want to ask Alex what he’s doing but he adorns headphones and I don’t want to be impertinent, disturbing his game-day preparation. Jake Walker is near me so I ask him what sorcery Alex is engaging in.

The guys cut their socks to their desired length before the game. To keep the threads from fraying at the cut point during play, the athletes sear them with a flame to bind them. So, many of the soccer players you see on the field have cut and cauterized their socks with surgical precision to get a perfect length before playing. Again, one of those details right in front of you before a game that is impossible to know about from just watching — one of the reasons I’m enjoying this project.

Here’s a few photos from the past two weeks with the lads.


Here’s another story easy to miss: It’s a tradition that goes back at least a couple captains ago. Last year former captain David October handed over the captain’s arm band to Alex Comsia. This year Alex returned and before the Harvard game did a ceremonial handover of the arm band to this year’s captain, Mauricio Pineda. Here, Santiago Herrera helps Mauricio adjust the arm band.

Photos by Peyton Williams. You can follow him on Twitter or Instagram.