Image: Dave Mercier

Here at NOTY, it’s axiomatic that a truly great name has it going both ways. Just look at the Hall of Name: Assumption Bulltron, Nimrod Weiselfish, Tanqueray Beavers, Princess Nocandy, Vanilla Dong, Destiny Frankenstein. And we haven’t inducted a new class in a while, so no Barkevious Mingo, Taco B.M. Monster, Nohjay Nimpson or last year’s winner, Kobe Buffalomeat. First name and last, front and back, top and bottom. These great names bring it every which way.

Your 2018 Name of the Year does too. With surprising ease, Canadian hockey player Jimbob Ghostkeeper waffleboarded away Dr. Narwhals Mating in the championship final, racking up a whopping 57 percent of the more than 7,500 votes cast.

Let’s start with the champ’s surname. Ghostkeeper is a 1981 Canadian horror movie in which unseemly things happen to a trio of snowmobilers stranded in an abandoned ski lodge in the Rockies. The plot is loosely based on a Native folklore tale. That make sense because Ghostkeeper is an English translation of a Cree Métis name, Kanachakhtwin, or “keeper of the spirits.” Ghostkeeper also is the name of a Calgary band fronted by Shane Ghostkeeper. He was asked about his family name in a 2010 interview:

“There’s a few stories going around,” Shane Ghostkeeper says. “One anthropologist lady where we grew up said it refers to the fact that there are medicine men in my family. It’s been a long line, and it keeps getting passed down, and it has to do with having knowledge of ceremonies that are used to conduct communications with the other entities that exist among us, the spirits.

“But one of the funny stories that my dad and his family like to tell is that his great-grandpa, in a Métis settlement area called Kathleen, north of Edmonton, was known for taking care of the graveyard, so they called him ‘Ghostkeeper’ as a nickname—and then his kids took it on as a legal last name.”

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Cool etymology either way. But Jimbob? What’s Jimbob doing there? Plenty. First, kudos for the closed compound, bucking the traditional two-word construction. Second, there’s a complementary dissonance between “Jimbob” and Ghostkeeper” that makes the name pop, and it also scans nicely when spoken. Finally, while the first name screams Southern, you can find it in Canada, where Bob’s your uncle and Jim Bob might be too.

So add Jimbob Ghostkeeper to the list of famous JBs: Jim Bob Duggar, patriarch of that TV family with 19 kids, one of whom molested some of his sisters; the hyphenated Jim-Bob Walton, the youngest son on the 1970s TV show about a Depression-era rural Virginia family that spawned the catchphrase “Goodnight, John-Boy”; and Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter, who told the Detroit Free Press in 2015, “I’m from Tennessee and I’m from pretty southern Tennessee. I mean, it’s on down there pretty good. There’s a lot of people with two names. A lot of spaces out there in my classroom growing up.”

A lot of spaces out there. That’s fantastic. Up there in Alberta, though, no space for Jimbob—or possibly JimBob, depending on whether you find the 2018 Name of the Year playing for the Midget A Rangersof Fort Saskatchewan or the Steelhounds of the Edmonton Non Contact Hockey League. If this is our winner—and we really hope it is because he loves hockey and baseball and believes Joey Chestnut is the greatest athlete of all time—then based on the initials we conclude lowercase. In any event, Ghostkeeper apparently is a big guy who, per this thread on a Canadian hockey forum, isn’t afraid to swap knuckles:

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Native, and now champion.

Thanks to everyone who voted. Visit our website, follow us on Twitter and send us your nominees for 2019. Until next year, good night, Jimbob.


Stefan Fatsis is the author of Word Freak and A Few Seconds of Panic, and a cohost of Slate’s sports podcast Hang Up and Listen.