A: I was named after my Uncle Roch (editor's note: pronounced “Rock”).
Actually, my dad is a geologist and when I was little he would take me out with him on site. We never traveled the interstate, we would only take the back roads, and we'd looked at rock (outcroppings). He directed me, he encouraged me to go into civil engineering, focusing on engineering applications that apply geology, so he guided my career path.
So I did pursue that career, and it let me work outside and play in the dirt a little bit.
Q: Would you change your name if you could, and why or why not?
A: When I was in the third grade, I started to tell everyone to call me by my middle name, which is Steven, but then after awhile, I felt it just wasn't me. So my name has been a great source of consternation, particularly the spelling.
We had to move quite a bit with my dad being in the oil business, and I'd have to tell the teachers, “It's pronounced ‘Rock' not ‘Roach.' ” And that would be fine, but then the first substitute teacher I had would say “Roach” Player, and elementary kids can be a little cruel. But I've gotten well past that now. I like it. It's catchy.
Q: If you could choose another career, what would it be?
A: I would probably teach advanced placement high school history. I love history and talking about history to people who are interested, motivated students.
Q: How do you know when someone has picked up on the fact that your name is an aptonym?
A: It's generally pretty quick with a lot of the people. With my work, I meet a lot of new people. We're doing a design/build construction project on I-405 now, so I introduce myself, and they look at me like, “That makes sense,” or they start saying, “Hey, this guy's Roch Player and he's a geotech!”
We just met a new family on Sunday, and I introduced myself and told her I'm Roch Player and she looked at me odd. And my wife later mentioned my name again and she said, “Oh, that's your name. I thought you were a rock player, like you play rock music.”
It's memorable. It's a conversation starter.
Q: How do people react to the combination of your name and job? Do they get it? Any funny stories as a result?
A: It's one of those things that it gets to be commonplace now. But in school I would go into geology classes and during role call the professor would call out Roch Player and I would smile, and they would just look at me and shake their heads. Some might ask me if that was short for something, and I would say no, that's my given my name.
I have no sons. I have four daughters so I can't pass it on, but maybe one of their kids will pick up on it and continue the tradition.
My parents had a baby book and on my first birthday my Uncle Roch wrote on my birthday card about the name, and he said you'll get some hard times and get some ribbing, but you'll come to love it.
— Theresa Goffredo, Herald Writer
The word is “aptonym.” It refers to people whose names aptly suit them because they suggests key attributes of their jobs, professions or lives. Their names might, in fact, have influenced their lives or careers.
It's no surprise that The Herald found lots of these people living in our area. They are vital members of the community, as well as being good sports for playing along.
We found so many aptonyms, in fact, that we are resuming the series for a second summer. And, just like last year, we'll be profiling our local aptonyms for the next several weeks. If you happen to know an aptonym or are one yourself, fill out the form on our Aptonyms page.
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