When I was younger, I had ambitions of playing sports professionally. I grew up in a family that valued sports. My dad was a basketball coach and athletic director, so you could say that it ran in my blood. I loved them and I knew with every fiber of my being that I was destined to become a professional athlete. 

First, I dreamt of playing baseball for the Chicago Cubs. Later, that morphed into playing basketball with the Chicago Bulls. 

However, that was all for not because I learned a crucial lesson at a young age that forced me to realize that I wasn’t cut out to be a pro.

Only people with cool last names make it to the majors and I … well, I have an average last name.

I don’t blame you if you never picked up on this simple fact. It takes a special kind of observational skills to uncover hidden truths such as this. 

Let me explain what I mean. 

Alfonzo Soriano of the Cubs and Derrick Rose of the Bulls were two players I had posters of on my wall. 

How could I compete with names like Soriano and Rose when I have a boring name like Gingerich? I know at least 30 people with that last name. Almost all of my cousins have that name and that’s, like, 15 people right there! 

So, I did some simple calculations as a 10-year-old. 

If I knew 30 Gingerichs, then that must mean that everybody in the world knows about 30 Gingerichs as well! If you take 7 billion times 30, you get 210 billion Gingerichs; that’s how many of us there are. 

Since there are so many Gingerichs, then it must be an extremely average last name like Smith or Johnson. Therefore, I have no chance of making it to the professional level.

As you can imagine, this sudden realization hit young me like a truck. 

I was crushed. 

After several long and miserable days, I decided that if I couldn’t be a professional athlete, then I would have to find fame through a different route, something that would still make me wealthy and widely known. 

Once I had brainstormed for a sufficient amount of time, I came up with the perfect solution, something that met all of my criteria: poetry. 

Unfortunately, I realized I was a terrible poet after I read it to my mother and she laughed at me. Not a playful laugh, mind you. A hardy throat laugh that radiated enough mockery that you would have thought we were in a 2016 GOP presidential debate. 

She got her point across, however, and I gave up poetry.

After some deliberation, I decided that I would be a maverick and break the barrier keeping us average-named folk out of professional athletics. 

With help from my dad, I put together a rigorous workout that combined body-weight exercises and basketball drills. It was no joke.

It was extremely difficult and was not for the faint of heart. 

Unfortunately for me, I had a faint heart. 

I gave up after a day. 

However, it ultimately wouldn’t have mattered. I would never have been able to become a professional athlete anyway. After all, I have an average last name.