When sports fans don’t have a vested interest in a sporting event, they often look for any reason to cheer for one side or the other.
The explanation can be as simple as rooting for David to triumph over Goliath. It can also be as juvenile as color preference.
Often the support is influenced by a team’s players, be it out of loathing of one athlete (Terrell Owens, for example) or an undeniable respect (say, Peyton Manning).
But when all else fails, fans can turn to the players’ names to determine their rooting interests.
Most people were praying for Duke’s men’s basketball team to lose in the Elite Eight this year, but others just wanted to see underdog Baylor advance with its all-star lineup of names such as LaceDarius Dunn, Tweety Carter and Quincy Acy.
This all made me start wondering: Who makes people cheer for the Gophers?
Seriously, if Minnesota plays Northwestern or another team in which some spectators have no reason to support one side, what names draw them to the Gophers?
I ran through the rosters for the various Gophers teams and found the top 10 that stuck out to me. Some funny, some fitting and others that just stand out.
10. Tabitha Love, volleyball
I don’t know that Love makes it in the top 10 if Kevin Love wasn’t playing for the Timberwolves. You have no idea how many times I talked to Minnesota Daily volleyball reporter Keith Beise about the prospect of the Love wedding; not to mention the kids.
Tabitha is 6 feet 6 inches tall. Kevin is 6 feet 10 inches tall. Think about that. Huge kids. Kids guaranteed to play either Olympic volleyball or professional basketball.
But Love deserves a spot on the list because of her first name, too. I’m giddy about the idea of yelling, “You got Tabbed!” when this woman lands a big spike.
9. Billy Soule, baseball
Of all the baseball players to sport a soul patch (none should ever), this freshman pitcher has the most right to do so.
From inside sources, I understand that he doesn’t don facial hair, but the name must still stand out to people. I can only imagine how much he loves Motown music, and I assume he answers the phone saying, “You got Soule.”
8. Hayo Carpenter, football
If and when this talented wide receiver catches his first touchdown pass, screams of “HAYO” will fill the Bank.
7. Thane Antczak, wrestling
No it’s not a typo meant to say Shane. His name is Thane Antczak.
I don’t have any jokes to make about the young wrestler. I just think it’s a strong, hearty name. Say it a few times. It’s the kind of name you want to have if you are trying to impress an employer.
6. Josie Solie, soccer
It’s short. It’s sweet. It kind of rhymes.
5. Jewhan Edwards, football
Jew-Jew, as his friends call him, was probably the name for which I most struggled to find an appropriate spot.
Jewhan is pronounced like Juwan — an appropriate spelling for the name.
However, the originality of this name brings it closer to my heart, as I am Jewish. The one question I have, though, is how fans will react if this defensive tackle becomes a household name for picking up sacks. Will it become acceptable for the word Jew to ring through the streets of Minneapolis?
One name left off the list is his teammate Moses Alipate. I wanted to mention him for obvious reasons.
4. The entire women’s tennis team
On a team filled with foreign players, nearly every name sticks out. Among the first names of the athletes: Alessandra, Peta, Tijana, Doron and Magdalena.
Some are actually common. Some are not, but they certainly pop out as an interesting group of names. Also, Dino Bilankov plays for the men. Dino is a great name.
3. Colton Iverson, men’s basketball
Iverson had to make the top three on this list. While I’ve always loved the name, I feel that his public embrace of it has only helped him gain a bigger following.
Iverson sports No. 45 on the court. Whether he likes the infamous Afroman song “Colt 45” or is intrigued by the malt liquor of the same name (I say intrigued because he is only 20 years old.), his jersey choice makes everything about being named Colton better.
He also shares his nickname Colt with a popular gun company and young male horses. I dare you not to cheer for him.
2. Shady Salamon, football
I have a friend named Lucky. Every time I introduce him to people, they always ask if that’s his real name at some point after the introduction. I can only imagine Salamon has the same problem.
In all seriousness though, I doubt that Salamon has ever thanked his parents for giving him a name that gives people a reason to be scared of him. And I don’t mean that he’s intimidating. I mean that nobody has ever left their house hoping to meet someone shady.
1. Stormy Nesbit, women’s track and field
Her name is Stormy. Game over.
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