Here at Name of the Year, we love unusual names and the people who carry them, but the life experiences of our naminees are far from universally positive. Over the years, we’ve heard from a handful of the contenders we have included in our brackets, and several of them have told us of the mockery they endured when they were kids.
As someone with a fairly ordinary handle, I’ve rarely been teased because of my name, and while I’m fortunate to have avoided those encounters, I’m also left to wonder if I missed an opportunity to build character. Can the burden of carrying a strange title foster strength? That’s the question we’re asking today at Name of the Year, and to proffer an answer, we’re going to look at the example of the Sithole Regional’s 11-seed, Bumper Pool.
Mr. Pool is a junior at Lovejoy High School in Texas, and after he graduates in 2018, he has committed to play football at the University of Arkansas. In his young career, he has already become a force to be reckoned with at the inside linebacker position. ESPN has listed him as one of the top 300 recruits nationwide in the class of 2018, and he received offers from a dozen top football schools before ultimately choose to play for the Razorbacks.
How has Mr. Pool gotten so good so fast? Some observers wonder if his name has factored into his blitz toward greatness. “A young man has to be tough to play inside linebacker,” wrote Greg Poole of Bulldawg Illustrated. “With a name like Bumper Pool one might have plenty of opportunities to toughen up in elementary school, right?”
Mr. Pool’s dad would certainly agree with the assertion that the name he chose for his son has given Bumper strength, since he knew from day one his son would have a talent for sports. “"I always said if I had a son, his first name would be Bumper," Jeff Pool told Bleacher Report back in 2015. "It kind of fit as a football name, and when his grandparents were OK with that, I knew we had something." The elder Pool claims to have decided on the name Bumper after receiving a vision in high school. One is left to wonder whether that vision occurred in a smoky billiards hall or a bustling lounge.
In the same Bleacher Report article, Bumper echoed his father by referring to his handle as a “football name.” At the same time, his other quotes may strike down our theory that he navigated onomastic strife and emerged as a bigger man. “The people I'm around, they don't ask anymore,” he said. “I know a lot of my friends, when they first met me, will tell their parents, 'I met a kid named Bumper.'"
Whether the Bumper moniker was ever a source of pain for the younger Pool, or if it has merely served as the “conversation starter” he claims it to be, his talents on the gridiron have ensured he won’t only be remembered for his name. Will a NOTY title be part of his legacy? As he has to face off against powerhouse three-seed Faraj Fartass in today’s round of 32, we’re giving him an “outlook not so good” for now. Win or lose, we expect Mr. Pool to continue wear his name proudly as he racks up accomplishments on and off the field.
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BULLTRON REGIONAL, ROUND TWO
#1 Kobe Buffalomeat vs. #9 Cherish Bloodgood
#5 Clapperton Mavhunga vs. #13 Melanie Gubbels Bupp
#6 YourMajesty Lumpkins vs. #14 Guy Hands
#2 Bonjovi Hardeman vs. #7 H. King Buttermore
SITHOLE REGIONAL, ROUND TWO
#1 Marmaduke Trebilcock vs. #9 Subu Dubey
#4 Dick Posthumus vs. #5 Hella Jongerius
#3 Faraj Fartass vs. #11 Bumper Pool
#2 Fortunate Sithole vs. #10 Tugg Snowbarger