The name game: PHS Volleyball players work around first-name confusion

Posted 10/8/20

Madi Fields and Mattie Larsen have played volleyball together for about a decade. Now seniors on the Powell High School varsity squad, Fields and Larsen first took the court with one another in the …

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The name game: PHS Volleyball players work around first-name confusion

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Madi Fields and Mattie Larsen have played volleyball together for about a decade. Now seniors on the Powell High School varsity squad, Fields and Larsen first took the court with one another in the second grade, moved on to AAU volleyball and then played on the same school teams.

Though their names are spelled differently, Madi and Mattie sound the same. But after years of playing alongside each other, the two have learned to communicate well despite similar first names.

Then another “Maddie” got added to the mix. Sophomore libero Maddie Campbell is playing her first year of varsity ball, and that has only made communication harder between the players.

“Coach will say something, and we’ll all look,” Fields said.

While there are three “Maddies” on the varsity squad, there are four present at practices; Maddie Argento plays on the junior varsity squad, which participates in the same practices as varsity.

One can only imagine what that’s like.

“Practices are hard,” PHS head coach Tasha Miller said. “If you say ‘Maddie, go get a ball cart,’ there will be like four people going to get a ball cart.”

Varsity matches only have three “Maddies” playing at once, but it’s still challenging. There have been several instances where communication has been muddled as a result of the three having similar names.

“On the bench, someone will say ‘Maddie’ to get our attention, and everyone will look,” Campbell said.

Larsen added, “We haven’t really missed points because of it, but it gets confusing.”

Adding to this difficulty, coaches are required to wear masks as a precaution for COVID-19. This extra barrier to efficient communication only makes the name game harder.

“It isn’t easy with the masks,” Miller said. “I have a quiet voice as it is, so this has definitely been tough.”

To alleviate all of this confusion, the girls go by a variety of different names on the court. Coach primarily calls Madi by her last name, Fields. For Mattie, it’s an abbreviated form: Matt.

But, as the newcomer, Campbell gets the best end of the deal.

“I just get called Maddie,” Campbell said. “I’m the lucky one.”

With “Maddie” being such a common name and there being several others at PHS, the trouble doesn’t just apply to volleyball. They’ve had to memorize who comes first in roll, alphabetically, by last name, to avoid further confusion.

And with so many girls being named some form of “Maddie,” some of them have earned new nicknames.

“My friends call me Marty,” Larsen said. “I hate it.”

Campbell said, “I get called Mike.”

Simply put, “it gets old,” according to Fields.

Having three players with such similar first names on the same team is quite an obstacle. It’s also tough for the girls, both on and off the court, to have such a common name.

But while it has created some confusion and annoyance, the girls’ communication has steadily improved.

“It’s gotten better as the season’s gone on,” Fields said.

Campbell added, “We’re all pretty good friends, so we communicate pretty well now.”

The Panthers — now on a four-match winning streak — return to action this weekend, hosting Mountain View at 7 p.m. Friday and Lyman at 10 a.m. Saturday.

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