Hope, solo

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Frank Schultz
Monday, July 11, 2011

Consider the soccer goalkeeper. What an awful job. If the defense breaks down, there you are, one-on-one against an attacker who knows exactly where he’s going, and you don’t.

Sometimes, the keeper has to defend against free kicks from extremely short range. Most of the time, the keeper can’t stop those. You’ve got 8 yards of goal to cover on the horizontal, 8 feet vertical. A wrong guess could be the difference between winning and losing.

I have a new favorite keeper: Hope Solo of the U.S. women’s team, which takes the field Wednesday in the World Cup semifinals, against France. What an athlete. What an intense player. And yes—gotta admit it—she’s attractive. I am not the first, by far, to notice what some might call a star quality.

Solo came up big against Brazil on Sunday, stopping a free kick. She wasn’t the only standout for the women’s team, but Team U.S.A. could not have done it without her.

Why is a word blogger blogging about sports? Good question. I just have to remark—and I’m not the first—on the appropriateness of Solo’s name. When she’s defending the goal alone (another word for "solo"), she’s the team’s only hope. And in this case, the U.S.A.’s only hope.

I’m sure her parents weren’t thinking of this when they named her, but it’s a lovely coincidence. I have heard other names over the years that suited the occupation of their owners, but this has to be my favorite.

A name that suits its owner’s occupation is called an aptonym. A judge named John Law would be an example. Or a medical doctor named Marcia Bloodletter. Do you know of any real, local aptonyms?

(By the way: Don’t tell me soccer is a sport for wimps. I’ve heard it all—"lawn fairies," etc. But just watch the U.S. women on Wednesday, even for a few minutes. I have watched most of the women’s last two games, one a loss and one a win. I gotta tell ya, those women are rough and tough. They’re also fabulous athletes. Think gymnast plus long-distance runner AND sprinter. Then add the potential for getting tripped, pushed, elbowed or poked in the eye. All with no protective gear other than shin guards.)

Last updated: 10:06 am Wednesday, August 28, 2013

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