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What Is In A Name?
By Dawn Mills - April 2006
WARPIG File Photos By Dawn Mills

Part of getting a paintball team together is choosing your team name, but what is in a name?  Quite a lot if you’re like most people.  Oddly, coming up with a team name seems to be really tricky for some people.  “Can you help me come up with a name for my team,” “How do I register my team name,” “and how do I make sure my team name isn’t already taken?” are questions we often get in e-mail and see in forums.

To start with, there is no international team registry that has any validity.  Many Internet based team name registries have come and gone over the years, but they quickly fill with names of teams that are no longer around, or never were, and most importantly, they have no authority backing them up.  There is no enforcer to make sure you don’t use a name someone else has already used.

While you could pick any name, even if it has been used before, it is a good idea to do a web search for the name you are thinking of using.  If it is the same as a famous team (paintball or otherwise) or business, you could end up confusing people by using it – something you probably don’t want to do.  If the name us used by a business – a shipping company, a movie, a store, or even a professional paintball team etc., this is the one place you may run into a problem.  Trademark law gives the first company to use a name in business the right to use it exclusively.  The K-Mart Kommandos might not run into problems playing in a local tournament or scenario game, but if they play in a national professional tournament on TV, they may well get a cease and desist letter from the K-Mart corporation’s attorneys. 

With few real major boundaries for most teams when choosing a name, where can you start?  

You would love for your team name to be something stellar, to be lasting, to be envied and talked about because you win and get TV sponsorships and big checks, right?  

A name alone can’t guarantee you publicity, although sometimes wacky names can get attention.  When I was a kid, I played on an inter-mural baseball team where we got the ignominious name of the Pink Flamingos.  Did we live in a tropical location?  No.  Were we forced to wear hideous pink-orange baseball pants with matching socks?  Oh yes.  Was I scarred for life?  No, but I definitely remember bragging to my grandmother that I had won a game.  She asked what team I played for.  Then the horror started, she laughed at the name of the team.  That’s saying a lot, when even a proud grandmother laughs at your team name!

So what can inspire a team name?

Natural disasters are always a favorite.  Avalanche is a good example.  Tsunami was a popular southern California team.  Rockslide, Tidal Wave and Wild Fire are just a few to name as possibilities.

Maybe instead it could be afflictions.  Gangrene, frost bite, ebola, typhoid fever.

Do you want to appear smart?  Einstein was rather smart, right?  Maybe he’ll lend you something of his name or his genius.  

Paintball is an active sport.  Anything revolving around energy can have positive connotations.  Catalyst, kinetic, drive, fire, force, intensity, stamina, tough, vitality, zest, reaction, fission, fusion, atomic.  Do a search for yourself in any dictionary.  Or go to and punch in a word to describe what you would like to achieve.  Do you want to win?  Type in win and click on thesaurus.  Do you want to be driven?  You might run across words like strive, thirst, yearn, craving to describe ‘driven’.  

One hit wonder names can work great for those throw together teams that play just one event.  Picking your favorite food can work here.  Have a sweet tooth?  Dream sickles are yummy and can’t be beat for an ice cream man stop.  Ho Ho’s are probably one to give a miss to, especially if you’re an all girl team.  If you enjoy the rich British delicacies, Yorkshire Pudding may be your next name.  Pot Roast Platoon might just ring your bell.

Trendy television shows might give you a good idea.  I would stay away from the series names themselves – Gilmore Girls would just be silly, especially if you’re not an all girl team.  But if you were a girl squad and just loved the satirical wit of the show, a character name like Sookie’s Risotto could work.  It’s odd; it’s interesting, it’ll be remembered – which, if you’re going for press for your sponsors, it is always a great thing to be remembered.  If you’re not 14 or a girl or Gilmore Girls isn’t your favorite TV show, perhaps you enjoy Stargate SG-1.  Now, would you name your team Stargates?  Hopefully not.  Maybe take a culture they’ve encountered – Asgard or Nox.  Love cartoons of the old days?  Flintstone’s Betty Rubble could make a good mascot – Betty’s Brigands.  

You should give some thought to names that might lend irony to a write up if you’re going for the big guns and trying to win tournaments.  If you name is Tragedy and you lose every game in the prelims, I guarantee that you will get press, not the good kind.  Don’t make it too easy for the journalists and forum folks to lampoon you.

Alliteration can be your friend, especially when it comes to being remembered.  Just like Hogan’s Heroes was a popular TV show a long time ago, names that start with the same letter are popular.    Motorcycle Mama’s, Cash Cows.  

Pick an artist.  They used paint, right?  Picasso.  Matisse.  Di Vinci.  Michelangelo.  Bellini, Monet, Rembrandt.

If you’re really stuck, use this strategy.  Pick a thing at random.  It could be a chair, a horse, a tree, a rock.  Next, pick an action.  Is the chair rocking?  Is it rolling?  Is it falling?  Team Falling Chair.  Now, yes, you might sound as though you’re an obscure Native American name, but if you do this right, you’ll end up with a fun combination.  The thing – Death.  The action – Silent.  Team Silent Death.  If that seems too easy and too blasé.  Change languages.  Spanish changes your team name to Muerte Silenciosa.

So go to it.  The world wide web is at your command – come up with some names and then search them out to see if they have been used.  Have fun, pick one, and go out and play.


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