As an avid book reader I sometimes marvel at how authors come up with character names.
A few novel names that standout for me is author Vince Flynn's counter-terrorism operative Mitch Rapp and crime writer John Sandford's tough cop Lucas Davenport. But my personal favorite is adventurer Dirk Pitt, whose larger-than-life exploits come alive in Clive Cussler books.
The sports world is a bastion for cool names. Just hearing the name Dick Butkus invokes fear. One of my favorite football names is former Notre Dame linebacker Michael Stonebreaker, whose last name guaranteed he wouldn't become a florist.
Then there's probably the toughest name in Minnesota sports history, Bronko Nagurski. The "Battering Bronko" played football in the era of leather helmets and no facemasks. As a Gopher he was named an All-American at two positions in the same year, and was named one of the top 101 athletes in the 20th century.
It's also rumored that Nagurski ate nails for breakfast, plywood for dinner and washed it all down with motor oil.
In my job of covering junior college sports, I've come across a number of names that fit into the shake-your-head category.
The Minnesota West football team takes top name honors. The two names that highlight the Blue Jays roster are running back Elrazor Sharp and linebacker Justiss Scales.
And no, I'm not making them up.
Sharp is a 237-pound battering ram of a player that led the state with 16 rushing touchdowns while Scales dished out his own brand of "justice" on defense, leading the Southern Division in tackles.
If a career in football doesn't work out, I'm sure Elrazor could catch on with the Gillette company while Justiss is perfectly suited for a career in law enforcement.
The Chicago Bears had William "The Refrigerator" Perry. In true one-upmanship, Minnesota West has 6-foot-1, 295-pound offensive lineman Keenan Kitchen. The saying, "They brought everything but the kitchen sink," doesn't necessarily ring true for the Blue Jays because, well, they have the whole kitchen.
Down at Riverland College in Austin a star is burning bright, as in D'Starr Turner, a guard on the Blue Devils men's basketball team.
Can you imagine the headline possibilities with that name? "Star light, star bright, D'Starr hit the three tonight." A name like that makes sports writers drool.
There were two athletes this season that had the perfect names for the sport and the position they played.
First is Vermilion Ironmen wide receiver Stephen Jett II, who'd better run a fast 40-yard dash time with a name like that. The second is Anoka-Ramsey volleyball player Anna Block, who is a 6-0 middle hitter that lived up to her name by leading the Southern Division in kills and was in the top 10 for blocks.
Intimidation is a common tool that many coaches like to use, and famous coaches like Bobby Knight, Bear Bryant and Woody Hayes never shied away from screaming, throwing chairs or taking swings at players during games.
One of the least intimidating names for a coach that I've encountered is Rochester Yellowjacket football assistant Gary Buns. For some reason, during a drill or after getting chewed out, I envisioned the players snickering when they said, "Yes, Coach Buns."
Finally, the most off-the-wall name, the one that takes the cake, comes from last year's Mesabi Range Norsemen football team, who had a running back named Kawaskii Bacon. Enough said.
So to all the someday and soon-to-be parents out there, stay away from such hum-drum names as Jack and Jill or Bob and Susan and keep giving us names that are as sharp as Elrazor.
TROY GUNDERSON, sports writer, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5865.
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