Nicknames Ensure Sports Greatness or at Least That Somebody Sort of Likes You

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A recent internal poll revealed nine of the 37 members of our executive leadership team excelled in athletics at either the collegiate or professional level. 

While our legal department hasn’t tested the veracity of this poll, or whether the poll-ees were sober while logging their responses, we’re confident in the results as they explain the stunning physiques and lithe forms of said leadership team, which is something we leverage on LinkedIn by always including their pictures with each thought leadership-themed post. Granted this ends up feeling kind of odd and pandering, like when our article about the intersection of empathy and successful organizational development featured Rob, our Senior Manufacturing Production Engineer, ankle-deep in sand at a volleyball court on Manhattan beach with his shirt off, and our CTO Veronica at the gym with kettle bells wearing a (albeit tasteful) LuLu Lemon getup, but the fact is, eyeballs are eyeballs and we figured the thought leadership space could use a little extra spice these days.

Truly our poll was less about generating verifiable, actionable data from which to make good decisions for the growth and sustainability of our company and more about prying into the personal lives of the folks who work here. Thus, we designed a subset of questions regarding our executive leadership team’s current or prior sports prowess to determine what, if any, nicknames they had while playing Division I and/or professional basketball, football, pickleball, curling (we have quite a few Canadians for some reason as evidenced by the quality of the poutine in the lunchroom), golf, jai alai, and ping pong – the last of which Bravon and Stella insist on calling “table tennis,” but we know they really mean ping pong.

Here’s a “30,000-foot Snapshot”…ah, sorry, our newly-contracted marketing consultant insists we use more of the inane corporate jargon of business leadership types so we can come across as “effective, cross-functional team leads with proven histories of generating ROIs that exceed”…oh the hell with it here are their nicknames:

Lisa, Controller, Jai Alai – “Cesta Sensacional” (the “cesta” is the long, curved wicker scoop used to throw Jai Alai’s rubber death ball upwards of 186 m.p.h. which is why we are scared of Lisa).

Cody, IT Manager, Football – “The Marvelous Moose” (he was actually a kicker, not a lineman as we are wont to associate with the corny nickname of “Moose,” but the name refers to the fact he’s really into Moose preservation – of all things – and thinks they’re “marvelous mammals.” True story, and also why we are scared of Cody).

Mary Anne, Administrative Director – “Dr. Dunkenstein” (which is weird because she played soccer).

Darnell, Director of Public Relations, Table Tennis/Ping Pong  “Rippin’ Rasputin” (he went to Cornell and studied Rasputin stuff…his Ivy League education permeates everything he does and it GETS OLD DARNELL).

Finnegan, Chief Human Resources Officer, Golf – “The Philandering Finn” (sorry, his ex-wife snuck onto our keyboard when we went to get a bagel from that new shop downtown).

Veronica, Chief Technology Officer, Basketball – “Princess of Pain” (we’re legitimately scared of her too, she holds the record for flagrant fouls at the University of Tennessee).

Bravon, Chief Financial Officer, Table Tennis/Ping Pong – “Einstein” (come on, this is not surprising, plus he also went to Cornell).

Paul Rutherford, Chief Operating Officer, Curling – “The Rock House” (sigh…the heavy, polished curling stone is often referred to as “the rock,” while the “house” is the circular target marked on the ice…Paul had to explain all of this in detail, as well as why curling is cool, which degenerated into this long speech about how he didn’t understand why he got beat up a lot, even in college, so we had to explain it was for being associated with this sport).

Stella, Senior Manager, Performance and Talent Management, Table Tennis/Ping Pong – “Whiplash” (which we coined after she gave us a ride home from the airport last week, it has nothing to do with Ping Pong prowess).

Nicknames are, of course, not new to sports, professional or otherwise, nor are they new to society. In the Middle Ages, it was not uncommon for nicknames to arise not only from shortened or diminutive versions of what are officially called radiconyms – that is, root names – but also from other words and sounds that rhymed with those shortened or diminutive forms, or whatever disease someone just caught from a rat.

Thus, according to the Dictionary of Medieval Names – an ongoing project from University College London, Dublin City University, Oxford University, and oddly enough Tacoma Community College, as well as Hamburger University, a.k.a. McDonald’s Corporation’s management and operational training facility in Chicago – the radiconym “Margaret” first became “Marg” in its shortened form, then “Mag” thanks to the habit of the letter “r” to sound only lightly in some dialects. From “Mag,” it became “Magge,” which is pronounced with two syllables, and from “Magge,” it became “Meggy.” Add in the rhyming convention at this point, and voila: You wind up with “Peggy.” 

Or, more accurately, in 1347 when Meggy catches the bubonic plague, the conversation goes like this:

“Oh no, Meggy has the Black Death, don’tletherin don’tletherin…”

“Ha ha, don’t let Plague-y in!

“Ha ha, I so hate Plague-y’s clothes.”

“Me too! And I hate Peggy’s hair… OhmygoshIjustcalledher ‘Peggy’ on accident! Ha ha…oh, she’s better now. Well, time to take our iron-tipped coulter plow and scratch out a living from our dirt field. Sorry for dumping on you Peggy.”

And it just sort of sticks. Just like the following famous sports nicknames, whether inside joke from teammates or reporter/announcer-inspired monikers:

Bartolo Colon, “Big Sexy,” MLB – Handsome? We don’t know, but at 5’11” and 285 pounds, a few All-star appearances, and a Cy Young award, Bartolo is certainly a big deal. And probably handsome. And rich. Must be nice.

Charles Barkely, “The Round Mound of Rebound,” NBA – A.k.a. “Sir Charles,” “The Chuckster,” “The Chuck Wagon,” and “The Prince of Pizza,” the power forward-turned-announcer’s love of food is legendary. He supposedly gained 20 pounds in two days just to avoid getting drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers, which didn’t work.

Darrell Griffith, “Dr. Dunkenstein,” NBA – Hey Mary Anne! You lifted your nickname from Darrell Griffith! Busted. So weak.

Dick Selma, “Mortimer Snerd,” MLB – Okay, it was the ‘60s and ‘70s. At first we thought it was a drug reference, but apparently this dude liked to poke fun at people, so it’s a reference to ventriloquist Edgar Bergen’s wisecracking dummy. That’s right. Oh man, when a ventriloquist is top-of-mind in our social ether and thus the inspiration for a nickname it’s truly a weird time to be alive.

Doug Martin, “Muscle Hamster,” NFL – Rumor has it Doug hates this nickname and has literally asked everyone to stop to no avail. It refers to his short, muscular physique. Sorry Doug. At least it’s better than the nickname our competitors came up for us, “Oh Those Guys? Yeah, We’re Not Worried About Them at All.”

Randy Johnson, “The Big Unit,” MLB – Finally someone from around here! At 6’10” and possessing a mullet measuring 8’11”, Randy was a twirling mass of blinding yet beautifully mesmerizing hair when pitching, which, combined with his velocity and accuracy, contributed to 4,875 career strikeouts, 303 victories, and five Cy Young Awards.

John McEnroe, “SuperBrat,” Tennis – Our absolute favorite person ever, despite the fact he doesn’t return our calls. A.k.a. “McBrat,” “Johnny,” and “Johnny Mac,” there’s something simply delightful about watching reruns of him becoming unhinged at a place as snobby as Wimbledon while playing a sport as conceptually stuffy as tennis. “Hey Johnny Mac, we’ll try you again tonight! Hello?”

Roger Federer, “Fed-ex,” Tennis  Oh my god he is so hot. I could just stare at him for days. And he’s so nice. Do you think he’ll every get divorced? Sorry, Finnegan’s ex got ahold of our keyboard again. She’s obviously on the market, and apparently likes Roger Federer, and rumor has it, the more he wins, the nicer a person he becomes. Barf.

Certainly there are more athletes’ nicknames we could cover, but trust us, these are the only ones that matter. Speaking of which, another recent poll revealed 94.5% of our readership is shockingly devoid of nicknames, likely because they take themselves so seriously and get all caught up in their workaday worlds and going to important business meetings or thinking about traffic. The good news is we’re here to help. Feel free to submit first and last names, maybe an address and last four of the SSN, and say a favorite summertime fruit. We’ll come up with something great, we promise. 

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