By JEFF MILLER
Anyone who has attended a Gulf football game this year has heard the chant “Fulmer Football!” It’s usually heard once the Bucs are well ahead of the opposing team.
The phrase sounds nice because the phrase is alliterative (both words start with the same sound) and both words have two syllables. Also both words also have the letter “L.”
Now we presume it’s just a coincidence, although consider that the varsity football coach is Fulmer and the JV football coach is Franks. (Also, Fagan has coached football in the past.) And, even better: what is the likelihood that, at a randomly chosen high school, the only teacher whose name begins with a V, Vergnaud, would happen to be the volleyball coach?
And which Gulf High School faculty member spent 22 years in the Navy and heads our NJROTC program? Steve Nesthus.
The behavioral scientist Brett Pelham and his colleagues have studied this phenomenon and believe that there is a tendency for people to choose careers that sound like their name, or live in a town or state or street that sounds like their name, or even marry someone with a name that sounds similar to theirs. They produced the following chart which gives the 39th, 40th, and 41st most common first names of males in the U. S., along with the number of dentists having those names:
Rank – Name – Number of dentists
39th – Jerry – 270
40th – Dennis – 482
41st – Walter – 257
It looks as if some people named Dennis chose to become a dentist because of their name. The link between the two words probably wasn’t made consciously, but clearly there are too many dentists named Dennis to be explained by random chance. Of course, the vast majority of people named Dennis will not become dentists.
I say this phenomenon is evident at Gulf High, and offer some examples.
Some other coaches: Girardi coaches golf, DeWalt coaches wrestling, and Schau coaches soccer.
Miller teaches math (and grew up on Mankin Avenue). Snyder and Stobbs teach Science. DeWitt teaches Driver Ed. (I know I’m cheating a little since I associated DeWalt with wrestling.) Donlon is the DCT coordinator. Duvall is the Data Entry Operator. Craig Judy teaches Construction and our band director is named Bill. (There would probably be more good examples if I knew the maiden names of the married female teachers.)
Our only Physics teacher is Peek (different initial sounds but they share the letter “P” and the K sound).
Our gym is officially known as the Bever-Hicks Activity Center, named for Joe Bever, who coached basketball, and Robert K. Hicks, whose obituary said, “he taught Latin and humanities at Gulf High School.” Another long-time basketball coach (1984-1994) was Greg Bollinger. Notice that basketball and Bollinger both have three syllables and a double-L.
I told my period 2 class about this phenomenon, and one of the students said that her mother René is a radiologist. Another student is named Faupel, and his father owns a funeral home. I say that it is probable that the only Gulf student whose father owns a funeral home is named Faupel. Another student in that class is a grandson of Dr. James L. Hollingsworth, who taught history at PHCC. Another of my students named Massey says his father is a mechanic. I have a cousin named Harvey who worked for Harvard for many years, even though he grew up in Pennsylvania.
Pelham believes that women named Florence are disproportionately likely to move to Florida; one of our assistant principals is named Florence and she moved from New York to Florida.
Last year, our principal and an assistant principal were named Thomas (Imerson and Brochu) and Mrs. Dale’s late husband Thomas also taught here. Now, Thomas is a common name, but perhaps persons named Thomas are more likely to become teachers than people with other names. Mr. Imerson was actually our second principal to be named Thomas.
UPDATES SINCE THIS ARTICLE WAS FIRST PUBLISHED: Mr. Rutherford reports that his wife Kelly teaches kindergarten and that his sister Cindy works at Cracker Barrel. His wife’s grandmother, Mittye P. Locke, maiden name Mittye Pierce, was the long-time principal of Elfers Elementary School (later Mittye P. Locke Elementary School). Gulf High School has had principals named Pigman, Prior, and Parker. Former assistant principal Patricia Haynes was born Patricia Pattonelli.
A student, Bella Calafiura, qualified for an international ballet competition.
Mr. Griffith is a golf professional.
Adam Miller, a 2004 graduate of GHS, moved to Michigan and teaches middle school.
The father of student Savannah Law is a Pasco County sheriff’s deputy (this may be a different phenomenon, but there have been at least three sheriffs of Hernando County named Law.).
Mrs. Riddle’s middle name is Charlene and her maiden name is Moseman and she teaches chorus and music.
The student Ariel Peters says she plans to major in art and become a photographer.
Mr. Stringer teaches Sociology and Psychology in the Social Studies department.
The student Tia Cooke is a cook. She works at Cracker Barrel and Chick-fil-A.
The former studenet Melody Goodenough was much involved in music at Gulf (works on two levels), but she majored in math in college.
Kelly Davey and April Kelley are both counselors (K sound), and Kathy Trapp counsels students about careers.
Kelly Sakser, who graduated last year, says that her father’s business name is Steve Sakser Stucco & Stone Inc.
The student Katie Wagner works at K-Mart. Her father Raymond works for Ron’s Sprinkler Service.
Kyle Scianna reports that his father works for Sweetbay.
Thomas Flannery aspires to be a teacher.
A former Gulf teacher, John Gallagher, taught government and later left teaching to work for New Port Richey and Pasco County government.
Lina LaBarbara, a former Gulf teacher, transferred to Land O’ Lakes High School.