Something as simple as a nickname can make someone feel at home. For Penn State men’s volleyball, having a nickname is almost like a rite of passage to enter into the brotherhood of blue and white.
It has been a tradition from all the way from the older guys which will continue to take after for the rest of the years to come. The root of how the boys got their nicknames are as simple as a last name or due to a funny moment shared with each other.
The nickname that everyone continuously gets confused on is outside hitter Matt McLaren’s nickname of “Steve.” Steve is not his middle name, and the origin of how Steve came to be is something that happened five years ago.
“So freshman year, there was three different Matts on the team plus a manager named Matt. So we had a lot of Matts. We called none of the Matts by their real names, so no one was called Matt,” McLaren said. “A couple weeks in, and I did not really have a nickname yet. Spencer said I did not have nickname yet, and spent about 30 minutes coming up with a nickname. He decided on Steve, thought it was hilarious.
“No one really understood it at first, but he was very persistent on calling me Steve. Then all of a sudden, other people started to call me it, then once Pav started calling me Steve in practice it was set.”
Some even have theories as to how each person got their nickname. Setter Luke Braswell’s nickname is Goose, and Henrik Falck Lauten has a theory as to how it came to be due to his appearance.
“I think it is because of Goose from the movie Top Gun because whenever he wears the pilot glasses, he looks like Goose,” Falck Lauten said.
A team favorite is freshman Brett Wildman’s nickname of Thinmint. His nickname was a trend the upperclassmen wanted to start with this year’s incoming freshmen class, yet Calvin Mende was the only one that stuck with Wildman’s nickname which clicked perfectly.
“The majority of the senior class one day in the summer when I was here decided that everyone in our class was going to be named after Girl Scout cookies. The first one they thought of was me and Thinmint. Nobody thought it was going to stick, then everyone started calling me Thinmint or Thin,” Wildman said.
Everyone is proud to have his nickname, even if it may sound odd to everyone else. Henry Payne’s nickname is Spanks, a nickname that evolved ever since he was a young kid. Payne said that no matter where he is, when people say his nickname he wears it proudly to represent the brotherhood they all have.
“I love it. If someone yells out Spanks, I just yell back ‘What’s up!’” Payne said.
If someone does not have a nickname, it doesn’t make anyone feel left out. Jack Goedken, although left without a nickname, takes pride in creating Payne’s infamous nickname.
“My favorite nickname is Spanks because I came up with it, and I was his roommate last year. It was funny because now everyone calls him that,” Goedken said.
Hawk, Big Mack, Falcon, Meatball, Bogs, Sahm and Bill are some of the names people can hear whether it be on the court or strolling around on campus. Yet one thing the team agrees on is how these goofy nicknames bring the team together and make each other feel like they have a purpose.
“It is fun to call everyone nicknames, like that name is the name for you and no one else,” Braswell said.