Scanning the Duke men's lacrosse roster, a few names jump off the page: Dax Cohan, Deemer Class and Case Matheis. While growing up, I didn't know anyone with these names. This is yet another sign the world has evolved.

Yale's roster has a few names that also struck me: Sean Shakespeare, Reilly Naton, and Kirby Zrill. I had a friend in high school with a first name of Sean but his last name sure wasn't Shakespeare. He didn't write all that well either. There is only one guy I know named Shakespeare and he wrote some pretty good stuff back in the 1670s. I wonder if this Sean Shakespeare cat is as skilled a writer as he is a laxer. I wonder if he writes sonnets or limericks about lacrosse in the evenings after games.

I knew a guy growing up with the last name of Reilly but no one with that first name. This strikes me as an intriguing move by his parents to name him such. I respect anyone's decision on what to name their kid but still--Reilly? Really? I once knew of a Kirbyt, a famous major league baseball player. He had a quirky last name, Puckett, but not quite in the same league as Kirby Zrill. I wonder if the "R" is pronounced. I wonder if Kirby reads Shakespeare after lacrosse games and practices.

As I peruse the roster of the Cornell men's lax team, I find more unconventional names: Myan Adams, A.J. Fiore, and Brennan Donville. Myan should have been named Brian. Four guys on this team have the first name of Connor: Buczek, English, Entenmann, and Hunt. Clearly Connors gravitate towards college lacrosse. A.J. Foyt, a famous race car driver, was cool but I don't know about this A.J. Fiore dude. Maybe he drives race cars but I bet his passion, because his name is A.J.--a lax name--is lacrosse.

The University of North Carolina's lacrosse squad has two Kierans (not to be confused with Karens): Burke and McDonald. McDonald is pretty normal. Campbell Wood is also on the team. Isn't Campbell a girl's name or the name of some company that makes soup? I knew a guy while growing up named Brian Campbell. We never called him Campbell Brian. I never knew anyone with the first name of Campbell. Earl Campbell ran through NFL linebackers during the 1970s but that's football, yesterday's news. He didn't play lacrosse, today's news.

Players for Syracuse's team include Elliott Burr, JoJo Morasco and Dylan Donahue (not to be confused with Dylan Thomas, the famous poet). The only person I can think of with the first name of Elliott was Eliot Ness (with one "l"), a law enforcement agent during the 1920s. There was a famous English female novelist named Mary Ann Evans, who used the pen name of George Eliot. But that's a long story about a complex woman that doesn't need to be developed here. The only JoJo I know was JoJo White, a quick and sharp-shooting guard for the Boston Celtics in the 1970s. My childhood friend, Pat Gates, had a dog name JoJo. But that was a dog, not a college lacrosse player. Apples and dogs.

I ponder these lacrosse players' names--all of whom play for teams that have advanced to the second round of the NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championship--because these names illustrate the idiosyncratic nature of the sport. Lacrosse is new compared with basketball, baseball and football. So, too, are the players' names. Lacrosse is stylish and in vogue. If you don't play lacrosse, you are not among the "in" crowd. This is not universal but the sport does have that air about it.

It's almost as if parents give their sons these classical, high-brow and sometimes Victorian names with the intention of making them into lacrosse players. The two go hand-in-hand as part of a grand family plan. "We're going to name our son Myan, a cutting-edge and new-wave name, and he's going to play a cutting-edge and new-wave sport."

On these lacrosse rosters you can't find a lot of guys named John or Joe. Too traditional, not cool or thought provoking enough. Those guys play basketball and football. Kieran, Dax and Deemer play lacrosse. Seriously, they named their kids Dax and Deemer. You won't find many guys named Mike and Steve on these lax teams. That's old school. Dax, Deemer and Connor play lax.


May 14, 2013  03:40 PM ET

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