Journalism is all about people, and people are at the heart of one of the most crucial rules of the game: spelling names correctly.
Unfortunately, in the world of prep sports reporting, some parents don’t do us in the business any favors with their unique takes on classic names for their children. The winds are right for making a fool of one’s self if you don’t check the way that McKayla is spelled. I mean, of course there’s a ‘Q’ in McQuayla!
What once was a mild irritant, I’ve transformed into my own little newsroom game. I log away the prep basketball names I run across that make me smile the most. Or leave me puzzled and stammering while hoping a pronunciation guide will fall out of the sky.
So without further ado, AJ Mazzolini’s All-East Oregon Name Team. Since this is a hypothetical basketball team based solely on the resumes of names, we won’t worry about schools or positions or grades.
Let’s start with the boys. Up first is our most-likely-to-foul-out pair of forwards, Heppner’s Bryce Fowler and Helix’s Keenan Hack. Nobody wants to drive the basket against two defenders so eloquently named. Another forward now, one who comes with a name like a guarantee if you don’t check on this spelling.
That’s Nixyaawii’s Ty’Po Farrow.
How about a fourth forward, since they seem to have the most interesting names in Eastern Oregon. Nychal Gritz of Hermiston would be an excellent addition with a first and last name for piqued interest. Plus, he should be killer in competition according to the Kabalarian Philosophy, which supposedly teaches constructive living based on physical, mental and spiritual laws.
By Kabalarian definition, Nychal has “a tendency to dominate others.”
We’ll cap off the starting five with a post player, because nobody really needs to handle the ball in this offense. We need leadership instead, and where better to get that than from Treve Moffit of Echo. Treve is of Celtic origin and translates roughly as prudent, or wisely acting with thought for the future.
Honorable mentions: Derek Richwine, Mac-Hi; Elvis Lockwood, Stanfield.
On to the ladies, where we see a couple of fine examples of “double-check that spelling before you hang up with that coach.” Say hello to Shyan McDannel of Arlington and KasCee Cressy of Pilot Rock.
And how about Timbre Fritz from Weston-McEwen, who, upon googling her name, I discovered several hits filled with misspellings of “time machine” and “time of the year.” Timbre really has a ring to it though, most likely because it’s a musical term.
Now to fill out this roster with a faux-archduke in Sterling Braithwaite, who is not of English royalty but instead of Stanfield.
Our last of the All-EO girls’ name team was a toss-up — actually, I used a coin. The final spot goes to Dominika Senkerikova for being the name I had to have Ione coaches spell the most before I could get it right on my own. Note: Dominika is an exchange student from the Czech Republic and my struggles with her name indicate I don’t watch enough women’s professional tennis.
Honorable mentions: Noa Ena, Stanfield; Erandeni Trevino, Mac-Hi; Sharice Queampts, Nixyaawii.
But wait, there’s more! The award for most difficult name to fit on the back of a basketball jersey goes to Ajiah Ganuelas-Smartlowit of Nixyaawii. Pendleton’s Courtney Schumacher-Sweek comes in a close second. It’s a good thing high school jerseys don’t come specially embroidered because the arc on these names would go from kidney to kidney.
Our final acknowledgement of the day goes to the Condon/Wheeler girls’ basketball team for providing three of the five players for the All-Brittany team, my Frankenstein’s monster of a squad made of girls with five different versions of the same name. That’s Brittany Terland, Brittney Lyda and Britne Landis of the Knights — all juniors.
“We have to all call them by their last name,” said Teresa Humphrey, head coach for Condon/Wheeler. “Because usually when you yell ‘Brittany,’ all three of them look up.”
The Condon/Wheeler triplet joins Britteny Taylor of Pilot Rock and Brittainy Houck of Burns on this ficticious team. Houck is a little out of our coverage zone, but I fudged the numbers in her favor.
Let’s have an ovation for creativity.
P.S.: Spell check informed me there were 25 misspelled names in this piece — including my own first and last.
AJ Mazzolini is a sports reporter for the East Oregonian. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.