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"I dunno. What do you think?"
"Beats me, why don't we ask weird Mikey. He eats broccoli."
"Mikey, you got any good names?"
"How about the BLUE DARTS? We got blue jerseys this year,
don't we?" says Mikey, bouncing the ball off Eddie's head for the seventh
time in the last five minutes.
"I think that name is already taken," the coach groans and
tells Mikey to stop bouncing the ball off Eddie's buzz. "Anybody else got
any ideas? Next practice I want everyone to think of a name."
And so goes the traditional search for a team name. Many
suggested names seem to be the product of diminished or misdirected verbal
capacity and reasoning. Fortunately, coaches usually exercise a measure
of veto power over juvenile humor, or we would have team names that are
unprintable in a fine paper like the Valley Record.
In my first year of coaching, we didn't have a team name until
picture day. Lance at the North Bend Dairy Queen passed out free certificates
for a Blizzard during the jamboree. Nancy Walton-House suggested
"BLIZZARDS went with white jerseys." You guessed it. We were the
BLIZZARDS even though half the players thought we were named the LIZARDS.
My preference was the BUZZARDS.
Several years ago we played a team called the STINKY PIGS
from Puyallup. We thought their name was really stupid and enjoyed a
certain smugness before the game. They proceeded to beat the tar out of us.
After that, everyone thought STINKY PIGS sounded pretty cool.
Coming up with a good team name is difficult. Fortunately, there are
some general rules and guidance that coaches can follow. Body parts,
pharmacopoeia, bodily functions, derogatory innuendo, and suggestive
acronyms are uncool, although decorum can be waived if a sponsor is
involved. A truly good soccer name should, however, obey the following
simple mathematical equation, derived from the Uniform Grand Field
Theory (UGFT) which I proudly present for your full attention and
Tn = (2/3?Ri2*C + P)*S3/V - ?f(w)dw.
Equation No. I where,
Tn =Team Name acceptance ranking
C = Color of jersey factor (See Table I, and Appendices I, III, and X)
Ri = Rough and/or Ferocious index [See Table II, subpart (a) in
S = Sponsor contributions, in dollars
P = physical attribute (plant, animal, disaster, etc.), rating
factor (Tables IV and V)
V = Community values, as may be indexed to FEMA maps
w = the ever axiomatic Wimpy Function Variable
Once we have reduced selecting team names to their
fundamental mathematical factors, it's easy to
pick a name that inspires victory. [Note: I regret there is not enough space in
the Valley Record to provide a full Euclidean proof, complete with
colored charts and graphs, glossy 8x10's, tables, figures, appendices and
supporting laboratory and statistical data for the mathematical derivation(s)
provided above. For now, just take my word on it.]
Traditionally, animals have always been a big draw for sports teams.
LIONS, TIGERS and BEARS, Oh My. Carnivores and raptors tend to be
most highly favored. I think this is a carryover from the days when it
was appropriate to hang animal heads on the walls of hallowed institutions.
Naturally, team colors often figure prominently. MAROON
MARAUDERS, BLUE ANGELS, GREEN GECKOS, MELLOW YELLOW,
and PURPLE PANTHERS all communicate the color concept factor.
Plants are often well represented in team names when combined with
a team. The PURPLE SQUASH was cool because it implied more than
just another restless plant. The same goes for RED HOT CHILI
PEPPERS. However, food names often sound weird unless you play as well
as STINKY PIGS.
Two weeks ago the Cascade Select WOLVES (U-15 girls,
carnivores) played RELENTLESS (inspirational/driven). Although RELENTLESS
is an interesting name, most inspirational names sound like perfume or
bug spray (Intrigue, Passion, Woolworth's No. Five, etc.), and would
normally be negated by the Wimpy Factor. The WOLVES by the way, took
second place in the Sky River Tournament. They played great.
Disasters are also a big hit. That's why we have names like
TORNADOS, HURRICANES, CYCLONES, CHICAGO FIRE, AND
LIGHTNING. I always wanted to name a team the Snoqualmie
Flood. Give Hollywood some credit. A few years ago every team was named
TERMINATORS, SHARKS, ALIENS, OR BIG GREEN. These kinds of
team names tend to fade when the movie appears in the video section at
I think the biggest untapped source of great team names is old-time
rock `n' roll. Unfortunately, most kids will not get the reference. I always
wanted to go with BLIND FAITH. There are still some great rock `n' roll names
that could work. REO SPEEDWAGON connotes speed, for example.
How about CANNED HEAT, or MEN AT WORK? My roots are showing, but
I think you get the general picture. I pray we never see soccer teams
named the BACKSTREET BOYS.
A few years ago my son's team was named the JUNKYARD
DOGS. The name worked because it sounded mean, and almost everybody
likes dogs. Never mind that parents enjoyed the reference to Jim Croce's
classic about Big Bad Leroy Brown being Meaner than a Junkyard Dog.
As players get older, team names tend to sound like something a
banker would come up with. SNOHOMISH UNITED, for example. Many
teams now have acronym names that sound like government agencies. After
all, how significant sounding is the Assistant Pre-Functionary
Administrative Under-Secretary to the Chief Directorate of Area 51 District Court
Magistrate (APfA-US-CDA51DCM, for short)? This trend to institutionalize
is dehumanizing and makes a crowbar seem warm and fuzzy. I hope this
trend can be squashed purple or pulped pink before it is too late. Rise up and
kick the habit, soccer fans. Coaches, don't let a single loud screaming
voice, bouncing the ball off Eddie's head, dictate the team name. Give the
boot to mediocre soccer team names. Stop Continental Drift for heaven's sake.
I am throwing down the goalie glove once again. Snickers on
the house for the best soccer team name (or an overlap) in the Snoqualmie
Valley. An esteemed "Blue Ribbon Panel" (carefully hand-picked by the
author) will make the final selection in a rare closed-door session. Snack, of
course, will be provided (see snack list on refrigerator for who's up next).
Dear Gene Pollard: Thank you for the very fine words. Thanks also
for buying a certificate for a Safari's Pizza. I wish that I wore humility
better. And yes, Part II is in the works, but we are still fighting the weather.
MICHAEL LLOYD is a youth sports enthusiast who serves on
the administrative boards for local soccer and baseball programs; he is
a resident of Snoqualmie.