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What's in a Team Name? Ask the Girls


Now to the opposite end of the sports world and the rural town of Warner, New Hampshire. That's where commentator Lois Shea coaches a softball team for girls 10 and under.

LOIS SHEA reporting:

My left fielder brought a goat to practice. The goat sat in the dugout while we took batting practice and fielded ground balls. I let the goat stick around. But I should've seen what was coming. This was the day we were to pick our team name. The name that would announce and define us as a ball club. The name we would shout aloud in our team unity circle as we thrust our hands into the air to induce valor on the playing field.

I opened the team meeting up for name suggestions as I promised I would. The Blue Unicorns, someone suggested. The Huskies, the Whales. Oh dear. Erica did a little dance ending with a big finale, her team name suggestion, the Wiz, Wiz, Wiz, Wiz! My assistant coaches and I were stupefied. I winced and dare not ask how to spell it. And then the inevitable, the Goats, yeah, Goats, Goats, Goats!

To coach 7 to 10 year olds at anything, you have to be willing to mix in a dollop of goofiness. But could these kids really be oblivious to the fact that Warner Goats sounded like a punch line? And the Warner Wiz, the Warner Whales.

Haley is a righteous 7-year-old with sparkly sunglasses who sings in the outfield. Relative to the size of her frame, she can hit the snot out of the ball. She raised her little hand and waited patiently. The Doors, she said. It took me a minute. As in Jim Morrison and the Doors? This tiny child wanted to name our 10 and under softball team after a rock and roll band whose bad boy lead singer perished in a French bathtub during the Nixon Administration.

This had possibilities. It would be hell on chatter. Come on Doors, we need runs here. Okay Doors, place to second. But think of the theme music. We could explode out of the dugout to the tune of Break on Through. Haley's suggestion opened up all sorts of other possibilities. We could be the Warner Squirrel Nut Zippers. The Warner Pogues.

We could be the Warner Ramones. We'd be Ally Ramone, Fiona Ramone, Haley Ramone, Molly Ramone. A line up card could never be so easy. Ramone, Ramone, Ramone, Ramone.

Most teams don't undergo this naming ritual. That's because their coaches are cowards. They either plagiarize Major League Baseball - Cardinals, White Sox, Yankees, boring, boring, boring - or name themselves after their sponsors. That's fine if you happen to get a cool name like say Ducky Slottery Sinclair, but not so great if you get stuck with Nagash, Perkins, Hargrove and Edelstein, Attorneys at Law. Talk about being hell on chatter.

In the end, while Goats had some popular appeal and despite shameless Doors related lobbying by alleged adults, tradition ruled. The Huskies won the day and did provide us with the opportunity to growl in our team unity circle. Still, at practice I catch myself humming, try to run, try to hide. I sure hope Haley plays again next year.

NORRIS: Lois Shea lives in Warner, New Hampshire. She came to us by way of New Hampshire Public Radio. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Lois Shea