By Scott Linesburgh
STOCKTON, Calif. – Jody Spracher mined the deep trenches of his thought process trying to come up with the perfect name for a Stockton hockey team. Finally, he struck goal.
He came up with the Stockton Goal Rush. He’s even designed a logo and named a mascot.
But he has plenty of competition.
Stockton Pro Hockey Group President Dan Chapman said his staff fielded 2,094 entries in the contest, which ended Tuesday, to name the team. A winner will be chosen later this month. The winner will receive a hockey jersey and two season tickets for the 2005-06 season, which begins in October at the new downtown arena. There also will be a series of consolation prizes, and each person who submitted a suggestion gets a free ticket to a game.
The amount of entries startled team officials. Among those competing with Spracher are 90 eighth-grade students from Hamilton Middle School, who picked names as part of a project in Paul Sporleder’s U.S. history classes.
“There’s just been an amazing response,” Chapman said. “I admit we’re very surprised. We were hoping to have a good turnout, since our early season ticket sales were so strong, and that everyone would have fun with this. But I don’t think we expected we’d get this many responses.”
The hockey group sold 657 season tickets on its first day of sales and has sold 1,222 season tickets. The group purchased the Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies in February, and it needs a new name for the team that will move here. Chapman and his staff decided to let the fans have a say in the matter.
It’s unlikely anyone put more thought into the process than Spracher, who played hockey for the Stockton Colts as a youngster and still plays pickup games at Oak Park Ice Arena. He went on to the city of Stockton Web site to check out a section on the history of the city. He read about Capt. Charles Weber and the settlers who came to the area in 1849, and he had his nickname.
“I don’t care if I win or lose, but if I was going to do this, I wanted something that represented our whole area,” said Spracher, 39, who is the administrator at a primary-care clinic.
Spracher also came up with the concept of Clem Claimjumper, the team mascot. The logo is of Clem in his miner’s outfit.
“We’ll see how it goes,” Spracher said. “We’ll see if I win.”
Bill Chavez, 47, also would like to win. His entry is the Stockton (River City) Brawlers.
“I think I have a good chance, and you can’t win if you don’t enter,” Chavez said. “I think it’s great so many people entered. The only way this team will do well is if we support it, and this is a good sign.”
All other entrants will have to deal with Mr. Sporleder’s students. Sporleder said his classes read the newspaper daily, and when he heard about the contest, he decided on a class project.
Among the entries from the students were the Unstoppable Ice Skaters, Stockton Hitterz and Stockton Polar Bears. Ruben Gonzalez, 13, decided on the Stockton Pit Bulls because so many people in town own that type of dog. Jackeline Carrillo, 13, didn’t like her chances of winning but came up with a unique name.
“It’s the Stockton Miracles, because it would be a miracle if I won,” Carrillo said. “But I might get lucky.”
Someone will get lucky and get the honor of naming the hockey team. Hamilton Middle student Jack Vang doesn’t think it will be him, but he’s quite proud of the name he selected. He decided to name it after a teacher he admires and respects.
He chose the Stockton Sporleders.
“That’s a great honor for me,” Sporleder said. “Jack is a great kid. And I’m glad everyone had so much fun with the process.”