What’s in a name? A lot if you’re Rusty Nail
Willis Webb

Sometimes, names that people hang on their children defy explanation.

Family names are passed on regularly from generation to generation, most draped in very meaningful histories and legacies.

But, often names are funny and occasionally even ridiculous. Some bring out the sense of humor of the naming parents and put the burden of maintaining that sense as well as developing a thick skin for the bearer of an unusual name.

If you have an unusual name, it probably was a real or imagined burden as a child.

As a kid, I thought my full name was awful—Willis Newman Webb—three last names. Ick!

Kids can be extremely cruel and I thought I was terribly put upon, carrying around that unusual name. Most kids I knew used a different version of my first name that I considered awful. If some youngster called me “Willie” in front of my mother, she’d say sternly, “I named him Willis, not Willie!” But, I got over all of the name stuff as most kids do. Everyone I knew as a child wanted to be named something else, usually a movie star or a well-known athlete, other than the handle they were stuck with.

There is a name in the news in Central Texas, and to some degree around the state on sports pages, that shows a sense of humor. But, as they say, a little background and history.

In the 1960s, I was editing and publishing a newspaper in Rosenberg. There arose a need for me to hire an advertising salesperson, who would be the ad manager for a dreamed-of and hoped-for BIG TIME newspaper. The winning candidate was a man named Bill Nail. Yeah, I know, that’s not a particularly unusual name. But, we’re getting there.

Bill had sales experience, the specifics of which I don’t recall but one thing on his resume’ really stuck out. He was the quarterback for a Harris County semi-pro football team, the Pasadena Pistols. Bill was a pretty good-sized old boy but his affability made you look past his size, over six feet and about 235 pounds.

He and his wife, Inez, also had a heckuva sense of humor. Their son, an infant when Bill worked at the newspaper, was named Rusty Nail.

Now, we’re getting to the “name in the news.”

Followers of high school sports will recognize the name instantly. Rusty is the head coach and athletic director of the Mart Independent School District. And, the Mart High School Panthers are the 2010 Class A Division I Texas football champions, defeating Goldthwaite 28-7 in the finals. Mart has a habit of vying for a state championship and has succeeded five times over the years.

Rusty Nail also has a habit of vying for and winning titles. In his short tenure as Panther head man, his Mart teams have won two (40 percent of the school total) of those state titles. The 2006 title was in Division II of Class A as Mart disposed of Cisco 23-13.

Apparently Coach Nail is quite a motivator since Mart’s title win over Goldthwaite was the second time the Panthers had played the Eagles in the 2010 season. The first game resulted in a 29-23 loss. Mart was 13-2 in this championship season. The other loss was 41-20 to Rogers, a 2A school, in the fifth game of the season. Both were non-district games for the Panthers. And, Mart was 3-2 to begin district play.

Nail obviously found the right words and the best player combination because they zipped through a five-game district slate without having a point scored against them. Then the Panthers blanked the first playoff opponent before giving up a total of 37 points in the final four contests to earn the crown.

You’ll no doubt read about Rusty Nail again.

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2011-01-06 digital edition

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