Sep 21, 2010

Daniel Chapman, the gold-sequin hat guy

by Betsy Abraham


Whether they realize it or not, Liberty students know Daniel Chapman. 

Since the start of the semester, Chapman, a freshman, has been rousing conversations and stopping people dead in their tracks because of his unusual choice in head wear — a baseball hat covered entirely in gold sequins. 

He even has a fan club. Although many do not even know his name, Chapman, or the “Gold Sequin Hat Guy” has over 300 followers on Facebook. Chapman himself became a fan of the page when he found out about it a week after it was made. On Facebook, fans have posted their latest sightings of the “Gold Sequin Hat Guy” and there are even paparazzi-esque photos of Chapman wearing the hat in places such as the Reber-Thomas Dining Hall and Towns Alumni Auditorium during a GNED class.  If that is not enough, the hat has its own Facebook page called Sparkly Hat at Liberty, which has over 40 friends. 

Chapman bought the famous hat for seven Euros, which is about $10, during a missions trip to Italy with Xtreme Impact, Liberty’s short-term missions program. 

The last day of the trip, Chapman was shopping in Venice with his team when somebody pointed the hat out to him. Chapman thought that the hat, which says Venezia, the Italian word for Venice on it, would be the perfect souvenir. 

Much to his surprise, a few days after he bought the hat, Chapman discovered a tag on the inside that said “Made in China.” Despite the fact that his Italian souvenir was fake, Chapman decided to wear it everyday since he arrived at Liberty. 

Sophomore Marissa Bowman likes seeing the hat but has her own theories on why Chapman wears it. 

“It’s shiny and makes me smile.  When I’m stressed and I see his hat, I feel better. But then I wonder why he’s wearing a sequin hat to begin with. This sequin gold hat is original and maybe a way for him to (connect with) the ladies,” Bowman speculates. 

Chapman says that he has only received one negative comment about his hat, but often gets looks from people passing by. However, he does not mind the attention.

“I love awkwardly making other peoples’ days better,” Chapman said. “I’m extroverted and I don’t like holding back. If you stare at me and look away, I’m coming to talk to you.” 

His extroverted nature with the hat as a natural conversation starter helps Chapman meet people easily.

“I’m naturally awkward but the hat makes people less resistant to awkwardness,” Chapman said. 

However, the hat is strictly a part of his life at Liberty, and he has no plans to wear it elsewhere, Chapman said.

Though that may be his main identifier, Chapman is a lot more than a freshman with an unusual hat — he is also a member of cheerleading team’s white squad. 

As a child, Chapman moved several times because his dad was in the military. They settled down in Las Vegas when Chapman was 7 years old and it was there that he discovered gymnastics.

“I was one of those kids that was literally climbing walls, bouncing off them, jumping off couches. I’ve always been hyperactive,” Chapman said. “My talent lay more in doing flips and body control than it did hand-eye coordination.” 

However, when the family moved to Stafford, Va., a few years later, Chapman faced the problem of having no way to release all his pent up energy. The solution came in high school when he joined the cheerleading team. 

Though in advanced classes all throughout his school career, he decided to slow down and focus on athletics during his junior year. However, that proved to be a very emotionally and physically trying time for Chapman and though his team made it to state level competitions, the demanding environment and pressure began to take a toll.  He decided to stop doing cheerleading after high school unless something changed. 

“(There were) all kinds of issues, so I was going to give up cheerleading unless I went to a cheerleading or Christian university. I came here and the cheerleading team was the most welcoming (group),” Chapman said.  

“High school cheerleading revolves around popularity. At Liberty, it’s about providing a good image for Christ and growing people in every way that they can spiritually, physically and mentally. Athletics will grow you into everything you can be,” Chapman said. 

A kinesiology major, Chapman plans to go to chiropractor school and then graduate school or seminary. He has a passion for missions, as well as for apologetics.

As for now, Chapman is content with being Liberty’s “Gold-Sequin-Hat Guy,” but his fans can rest assured that there is a lot more under those shiny sequins than an old baseball hat made in China. 

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