The NCAA tournament is upon us and I, like many non-hoops fans, will fill out my NCAA bracket, hand in my ten bucks, and slowly watch as my name plummets to the bottom of the rankings in my pool. Perhaps my annual demise can be linked to the fact that I choose my winning teams based on jersey color, mascot fierceness, or whether or not I’ve visited that city. One year, I came in so far behind that I was actually given my money back as consolation.
Why, then, would I turn to NCAA brackets, something I have had absolutely no success in navigating, to help me select the names of my triplets before they were born? Because I had no earthly idea what else I should do.
One and Done
My husband and I had played the name game before prior to the birth of our first born. Like most parents, we each had our own opinions on the names we liked and after countless hours of discussion, we settled on what I believe to be a championship first name: Fletcher.
For us, Fletcher was the perfect combination of all the things we coveted in a name. It was unique without being odd; a nod to pop culture without being trendy. We combined it with a family middle name we both loved, James, and, voila, our son had a name: Fletcher James Coblentz.
Now you might be asking, why did we need an elaborate process the second time around? Aside from the obvious problem of needing thrice as many names, we truly felt like we left it all on the court with Fletch. I even tried willing our second baby to be a girl because we already had a female winner chosen. When we found out that not only was our next child not a girl, but that we were about to have three more boys, well, we needed a plan.
Selection Sunday: Mom Makes a Committee of One
We started by throwing all our ideas on the table. I searched books, websites, and our family trees. As for my husband, I think he went through the starting line-ups of all his favorite sports teams, though he’d never admit it. Since we couldn’t come anywhere near sixty five choices, all names were awarded an at-large bid and we started in the Round of 32. As the sole carrier of three human beings, I bestowed the privilege of seeding the names to myself. Not surprisingly, many of my favorites were slotted against his stinkers. My husband did have a Cinderella story or two but let’s face it, they very rarely go all the way.
When it comes to names, points aren’t earned with lay-ups, three pointers, or foul shots, but they can distinguish themselves in subtler ways. We started with our own preferences. Obviously, names that we both liked moved ahead of those with only 50% support. Next we said each name out loud, with each of us doing our best to make the names we disliked sound goofy. Then we combined each name with our last name. Some of our favorites fell out here. My husband and I both love the name Cole, but we could never get around how it sounded like a stutter when said with our last name, C…C…C…Co…Cole Coblentz. Next came possible nicknames and/or ways that future children could possibly mock our child with the name in question. Our four year— old was a huge help here — if there was a way to rhyme a name with anything involving a potty or poop, he let us know.
The Sweet Sixteen: Will it be a Diaper Dandy or Walter Wally?
Once we had our Sweet Sixteen, we had to be even more critical of names we each liked. This meant being honest about family names. As a grown, self-assured adult, I had to remind myself how long my son would carry his name before he could appreciate the sentimentality of being named after his great-great-grandfather. Thus fell Torkel (you’re welcome sons).
Further vetting came by thinking about the child, teenager and adult who would bear that moniker. I tried picturing a baby Walter, somehow he always had facial hair. Wally works for a baby, so I tried picturing an adult Wally in my mind, but when I did, I became convinced he would spend most of his adulthood living in our basement. Some of the victories at this level took some research. Jacob is a great name but after a little digging we found that Jacob is and has been the No. 1 name for boys for the last decade. I fancy myself a champion of the underdog, so out went Jacob.
The Elite Eight: Names Need Rhythm Too
Going from the Elite Eight to the Final Four meant applying some very personal criteria. We each shared our histories with any of the contenders. Dexter faltered here because of its recent association with a serial killer, and we lost Logan because of a past middle school crush. The remaining names that couldn’t be linked to our former gym teachers were put to the cadence test. In basketball, it’s difficult to say why a shooter falls in or out of a rhythm; with names it’s more tangible. When we combined first names with middle names, they had to flow together so that the names rolled off the tongue.
The Final Four: Our Own Dream Team
Usually at this point in the NCAA tournament, I pretend that I forgot all of my picks to avoid the embarrassment of admitting the majority of them were knocked out in Round One. Fortunately, for my sons, the results of our names bracket were much less mortifying.
Since our soon to be team was literally in my “court”, my husband gave me the final cut, which left us with Cooper Dillon, Hudson Lars and Nathan Lee. Like our 2007 Champ, Fletcher’s brothers’ names are a blend of family and personal significance, and are at the same time off-the-beaten-path without being bizarre. I’m so happy with the results that I may even try my hand at a real bracket again this year, then again, with triplets, ten dollars is at least a day’s worth of diapers. Okay, maybe I won’t…
Where did you find your baby name inspiration?
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