Alberta college player causes stir with unprintable last name

Coach Craig Price’s phone won’t stop ringing.

Everyone from reporters to award committee announcers want to know if it’s true what they say about his star basketball player. No one’s wondering about the kid’s skill. He’s good. All-Canadian good. He just helped take Price’s squad, the Medicine Hat College basketball team, to the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association championship.

But the thing is — his name. It’s four letters — and not a kind four letters. The Brazilian’s moniker, pronounced “Foo-key” elsewhere, but something very different here, has presented media with an interesting, perhaps heretofore unencountered dilemma. Does a family newspaper publish a man’s name if it’s a profanity?

“We get a lot of looks about his name,” Price confessed in an interview. “I can’t tell you how many times I have to confirm the spelling and the pronunciation of his name. It’s a constant thing. People think it’s a typo.” But it’s not.

Welcome to the North American adventures of Guilherme Carbagiale F_. The demands of F_ are simple. He just wants to be F_. And for a long time, he couldn’t. And it was heartbreaking.

“It’s my last name,” he told the CBC. “I’m proud of it. Doesn’t matter if it means something bad.”

When F_ first got to North America, he played basketball in a small city in Wyoming. His old team told him, as CBS quipped, to literally drop the “F”-bomb. So he went by Guy Carbagiale, with his middle name slapped onto the back of his jersey.

“I played in a very small city,” F_, who’s six-foot-six and averages 18 points per game, told the CBC. “To avoid community conflict, they asked me to go by my first and middle name.”

But the issue nagged at him. He’s of German origin, and he said his name means “fox.” (In German it’s Fuchs.) He dreamed of wearing it on his jersey. “I want to have kids,” he said. “I want to spread the F_ last name.”

In the meantime, however, he couldn’t even spread it to his jersey.

Then in August of last year, he moved to Medicine Hat, Alta., where he took a spot on the basketball team.

“Going into this season it was our intention to use his middle name … and avoid controversy,” Price said. “But then it became apparent this was extremely important to him. His last name is very important to him.”

So he ultimately got it onto the back of his shirt this year. But that hasn’t stopped the questions. Even when he’s getting awards, one of which was given to him last week to honour his basketball accolades.

“I had a phone conversation with this one guy,” Price said, “who wanted to make sure they had it right before they engraved F_ onto an award.”

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