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'Fear the Beard': Capital softball propelled by an unlikely motto

Capital head coach Shane Alder made a deal with his players in November, agreeing to let them paint his beard pink if the Eagles made it to the 5A state tournament.

BOISE, Idaho — The beginning of the end of the spring high school sports season is quickly approaching. State baseball tournaments across Idaho got underway Thursday and state softball tournaments begin Friday.

For the Capital High School softball team, an unlikely motto propelled them to their first state tournament since 2012.

'Fear the Beard' has sparked what the Eagles claim will be their new normal.

"That's the number one thing people ask me; 'you must have lost a bet?' No, I actually won a bet," Capital softball head coach, Shane Alder said. "I've been growing it since late October, so eight months almost. November 1, first day of workouts, a couple of seniors just asked me, 'coach you're growing your beard out, can we die it pink if we make it to state?' 

Alder told those seniors it was a done deal, without hesitation. 

The Capital softball team even got game day shirts with their motto on them; 'Fear the Beard.' Alder said the shirts and slogan served as an incentive of sorts, for the Eagles to remember the goal they were working toward. 

"I actually had a conversation with my catcher and one of my pitchers about, 'if you guys win this first game tonight, it puts us into state,' when we played Mountain View, we'll go do it right after," Alder said. 

Capital answered the call, defeating the Mavericks 4-3 on May 12 in the 5A District III softball tournament to punch their ticket to the 5A state tournament. 

The road wasn't easy for the Eagles either. Capital entered the district tournament as the No. 5 seed and fell in a heartbreaker in the first round 3-2 to Eagle. On May 11, Alder's squad pulled out a 5-4 win over Kuna to earn a state-qualifying matchup with Mountain View. 

"We won and I told my [athletic director], 'I'm going to prep the field for the next game, I'm going to give you the balls and head to the salon and we're doing this thing,'" Alder said. 

Alder said it was a two-hour process to turn his beard pink, starting with his players bleaching his facial hair. The Capital coach called the process "horrific," with a grin. Alder said the beard was blue for a while, before the pink came to fruition after multiple rounds of washing it. 

"This is a special team," Alder said. "They click, they love each other - you can't create chemistry like that."

Capital is locked in as the No. 6 seed in the 5A state softball tournament starting Thursday in Coeur d'Alene. The Eagles open the tournament with a matchup against No. 3 Timberline at 9 a.m.

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