Soccer

Backwards shorts, clever game have RailHawks' Shipalane standing out

Posted July 1, 2013

— There are certain kinds of people – and athletes - who just like to stand out in a crowd. Carolina RailHawks midfielder Ty Shipalane is one of those guys.

"Ty is very different than the other guys on the team,” said RailHawks defenseman Jordan Graye. “Anything he does that's different, we accept it. That's just Ty being Ty."

So, when Shipalane showed up in Cary, with backwards shorts, his teammates kind of just accepted it.

RailHawks' Shipalane sports backwards superstition Mitchell: RailHawks' Shipalane sports backwards superstition

"I thought it was a little different,” said RailHawks head coach Colin Clarke. “Players have a lot of superstitions because they think it makes them play better."

"(It’s) my own thing, my own personality,” said Shipalane. “Something a little different, a little swag - that's what they call it in this country."

Ty, who is from Tzaneen, South Africa, started wearing his shorts backwards when he was in High School. It wasn't an accident, it was calculated.

"I wanted to create my own trademark when I first went into the locker room,” Shipalane said. “I was like ‘what if I did something different with my gear?’"

So the shorts became different, tag in the front, numbers in the back. Predictable questions followed from other players and fans at every game.

"’Hey you have your shorts backwards’” Shipalane, mimicked an inquiry. “I know. You'll get used to it."

For the last two years, defenders have become used to seeing No. 11 breeze by them. Shipalane is a fan favorite, he's flashy and he's effective. He has a goal and two assists in eight appearances this season after recording five goals and five assists in 27 games (seven starts) a year ago.

"Ty is one of the most exciting players in this league,” Graye said. “I think they like it when he does new moves and tries new things. He's very tricky. You never know what to expect. His personality matches the way he plays."

Different - and that's the way Shipalane drew it up when he first put on a pair of soccer shorts … backwards.

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