Bodybuilders, tribes and t-shirts: nicknames on the football team

There are many things that can be unique about a team. This includes different personalities, different rituals and many different nicknames.

Nicknames may seem like a small thing, but they are definitely something that helps to build team unity.  And with close to 140 members, the Guilford football team is a great example of this unity and a wide variety of nicknames.

Some of these nicknames found on the team are common, but others are unique.

One of the unique nicknames is that of first-year running back Alphonso Gbojueh, who goes by the name Zulu.

“The name Zulu is the name that everyone has been calling me since high school,” said Gbojueh. “(Zulu) is my middle name, which comes from the Zulu Nation in southern Africa that ruled for centuries.

“The nickname makes me feel like I’m a Zulu Nation warrior, and I try and play like a warrior on the field.”

While one player gets his nickname from a warrior tribe, another gets his from a celebrity.

Sophomore defensive end Austin Burke’s nickname is like none other.  Renowned for his bodybuilding and heavy lifting, Burke goes by the name Arnold, after the bodybuilding legend himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Burke got his nickname like most of the football players, during fall camp as a first-year.

When Burke arrived for football camp, he had just finished competing in a bodybuilding competition. Players took note of this, and that is when the nickname Arnold took full effect.

“I like being called Arnold,” said Burke. “Arnold has always been my role model in the weight room and someone I have always trained to look like. I have posters of him all over my room”.

Burke has embraced this nickname due to the fact it truly represents his lifestyle.

While many acquire a nickname from a celebrity likeness, others acquire their name from family and their own celebrity status within their own team.

One example of this is with junior offensive lineman Patrick Charvat, who is known as the  Juiceman by his teammates.

“Coming in as a first-year, a couple of my fellow Quaker football players started calling me the Juiceman because I had a couple of Kool-Aid shirts that I wore often,” said Charvat. “I think it is something that will stick between my friends and I that I have met at Guilford for years to come, but definitely just between us.”

Another player with one of the more distinctive nicknames is junior defensive lineman Jaquan Austin.

Austin, also known as Boom Boom, earned his nickname as a first-year during football camp. As a first-year, year Austin played offensive line before making the switch to defensive line his sophomore year.

Austin would pancake (a football term meaning to knock down) defensive players repeatedly during fall camp. Players and offensive line coach Brad Davis took note of his intensity and strength as a lineman. This is when the nickname Boom Boom was initiated.

“A lot of players are called by their first names, but to have gained the respect from seniors and coaches to call you by a nickname as a first-year is tremendous,” said Austin. “I believe my nickname will stick with me after school and I hope to live by this name even after my days on the football field are extended or over.

“I want to be remembered as more than just a football player here at Guilford, but I also want to be known as tremendous student that works hard in whatever he does, and I feel the story behind my nickname represents my hard work.”

While a player’s nickname may have a lot of meaning or not much at all, it is something that the team has adopted.  And while it may seem like something simply whimsical, it is a part of the game.

That camaraderie is what makes a team great.