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Nonnewaug High School's Chief News Source

NHS Chief Advocate

Nonnewaug High School's Chief News Source

NHS Chief Advocate

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Nonnewaugs Ellie McDonald dribbles the ball during a game last season. McDonalds nickname is Smellie -- one of many Chief names that exist on the girls soccer team. (Courtesy of Noreen Chung)
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The (Nick)name Game: Teammates Bond Over Inside Jokes

Nonnewaug’s Ellie McDonald dribbles the ball during a game last season. McDonald’s nickname is Smellie — one of many “Chief names” that exist on the girls soccer team. (Courtesy of Noreen Chung)

WOODBURY — For fans sitting on the sidelines of a game at Nonnewaug, it might sound to them like players are speaking in code.

“Come on, Dairy Crunch, put a good swing on the ball!”

“Good job, Turbo!”

“Crash the net, Sparky!”

Ask most players and coaches about the origins of these nicknames, one answer seems to come up all the time: “I don’t know.”

For some players, their nicknames stem from jokes among players. For Nonnewaug’s girls soccer team, coach Nick Sheikh gives out “Chief names” to stick with the girls until they’re seniors. 

“Certain team things stay team things,” Sheikh said, “kinda like an inside joke.”

The Chief Advocate talked to a number of athletes about how they got their nicknames – or how they gave others theirs.

Katie Farrell, junior soccer player: “Sheikh calls me Sparky, I asked him why one time, and he said, ‘because you spark something in the offense.’”

Aubrie Salisbury, freshman soccer player: “My Chief name is Chief-iWatch because during a game I left my Apple Watch on and got a yellow card, and after that Sheikh just kept calling me it.”

Ellie McDonald, junior soccer player: “It started my freshman year. Lexi Bernardi brought it to our attention, and it just stuck, so everyone would call me Smellie.”

Nonnewaug baseball players Brayden Altieri, left, and R.J. Barksdale embrace during the team’s senior day celebration this season. They nicknamed each other this spring. (Courtesy of R.J. Barksdale)

Brayden Altieri, senior baseball player: “I just started saying Shmunions, and then everyone started calling me it. I don’t really know. I think [nicknames] add team spirit.”

R.J. Barksdale, junior baseball player: “Me and Brayden [Altieri] were talking about TV shows like cartoons and stuff and somehow Minions came up, and Brayden goes, ‘You know there’s a Minion named Roo.’ Then he threw me the ball and I noticed he was looking at it, so I looked at it, and saw it said Roo. So I don’t know if he was messing with me or if he actually thought there was a Minion named Roo, but it continued to be an argument between us. And that’s why I call him Roo. I don’t know where his other nickname Shmunions came from, but we call him it.”

Johnny Carrara, freshman track athlete: “My nickname is Johnny Chill. I don’t know where I got it; they just call me it.”

Scott Viveros, sophomore baseball player: “My nickname is Scotty Pip. I don’t know where it came from, but a bunch of the guys just started calling me it. It gives people more connections. We gave Tyler [DiElsi] a nickname [Cartman] last year, and it just stuck and everyone calls him it. A lot of them are stupid and have no meaning, but we just call each other them and they stick.”

Derek Chung, sophomore baseball player: “I have three: Der Bear, Dairy Crunch, and Lil D. Der Bear is from when I was really young; my brother [Dylan] made it up. Dairy Crunch, Brayden [Altieri] made it up. And Lil D came from my brother too, because he’s like big and I’m not as big. [Assistant coach Kyle] Brennan calls me Dairy Crunch, so even names that players give, the coaches catch on, too.”

Ella Quinn, sophomore soccer player: “My Chief name is Chief Up-Chuck. Freshman year during the two-mile [run], I ended up throwing up, so that’s how I got my Chief name.”

Olivia Gwiazdoski, sophomore soccer player: “My Chief name is G-Wiz. On the first day of preseason, Sheikh didn’t know how to say my last name, so he called me G-Wiz.”

Gianna Lodice, senior soccer player: “My Chief name is Chief Giannis. The second day of Nonnewaug soccer, Sheikh called be Giannis rather than Gianna, after the famous basketball player Giannis Antetokounmpo. Except it’s more unique than the basketball player because it’s me. My second Chief name is Chief Cheese because during the summer league before my sophomore season, I was talking about how I ate mac and cheese before one of the games, so they started calling me cheesy.”

For girls soccer players, these titles are much more than a funny nickname. 

“There’s Chief names for soccer, which are more significant to us,” Farrell said. “Our Chief names really help the team bond. It’s like a tradition at this point, almost team culture. Every year we try to get the freshmen to get their nicknames and it’s just what they refer to for the rest of the season.”

McDonald agrees with her teammate.

“It creates tradition for the [team] environment,” McDonald said. “Like for the girls soccer team, it’s a tradition for every single freshman [to] get a Chief name from one of the players or the coach, and it sticks with them until their senior year. We say it every game in our chant, so it carries on and it’s like a forever thing with your Chief sisters.”

Sheikh said one reason why nicknames take on meaning is that they’re a positive way for teammates to connect.

“Some teammates and athletes have nicknames for each other in all good fun,” Sheikh said, “but none of it is meant to be derogatory or harmful in any way.”

About the Contributor
Audrey Doran '27
Audrey Doran '27, Reporter
Audrey Doran is a freshman at Nonnewaug High School and writes for the NHS Chief Advocate. She lives in Bethlehem and plays soccer for the school. She enjoys writing about sports and news in the community.
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