Emily, Sarah Still Among Most Popular THON Dancer Names
THON is only a little more than a week away, and the organization released the full dancer list Saturday with the names of all 707 individuals who will stand for 46 hours this year.
Like the inevitability of men’s gymnastics winning the pep rally, another dynasty continued once the list became public this weekend: Emily and Sarah’s joint reign as the most common THON dancer names.
This year, 17 Emilys and 12 Sarahs will dance in THON, so if you’re able to get on the floor and meet a dancer, just calling them one of these names will give you at least a 1.6% chance of being correct. And, given the laws of probability, if you were to ask a dancer once an hour all weekend if their name was Emily, you’d be nearly guaranteed to be right at least once.
During each of the last four THONs, both of these names have been among the three most frequent for dancers.
|Emily||17 (1st)||12 (t-2nd)||16 (1st)||21 (1st)|
|Sarah||12 (2nd)||12 (t-2nd)||11 (t-3rd)||13 (t-2nd)|
2016 was a down year for Emily and Sarah. They not only fell out of the top three spots, but they were the eighth and 11th most common dancer names, respectively. That year, Marie, Elizabeth, Matthew, and Michael all posted totals well over 15. Interestingly, there were still 10 Emilys and 7 Sarahs — by no means numbers to scoff at.
The year before, though, the two names were back up near the top and tied for fourth with 13 dancers each.
This trend shouldn’t come as a surprise. In 1998, the year most college seniors were born, Emily was the most popular baby name for girls, while Sarah was fourth. They held the same positions in 1996 and 1997 as well, which should explain both names’ prominence among late-90s baby THON dancers.
And don’t expect the dominance to end anytime soon, as new classes of students continue to make their way to college and onto the floor of the Bryce Jordan Center. Emily remained the most popular baby name for girls until 2007, while Sarah was a top-10 mainstay until 2002.
Emily and Sarah lead Ryan (9), Taylor/Megan/Rachel/Lauren (8), Tyler/Nicholas/Matthew/Julia/Jack/Erin/Emma/Christopher/Alexander/Andrew (7) in THON 2020’s list of most common dancer names. You can see below how each name’s frequency has varied during the last few years, beginning with 2016 when the dancer list had about as much parity as the Big Ten has in basketball this year. That year, 14 names had at least 10 dancers.
And below are a couple more uselessly interesting takeaways from this year’s dancer list:
- People named Jack are having a moment in 2020. No one named Jack danced in THON 2019 or THON 2017, and only one did in THON 2018 and 2016. This year, there are seven. If your name is Jack, and you’re dancing FTK, do a water social toast in celebration.
- The same trend goes for dancers named Andrew. After being a consistent top-ten dancer name over the last few years, only one stood for 46 last year. This year, seven Andrews will attempt the feat. Welcome back to Camelot (and the floor)!
- Lauren has been right up there with Emily and Sarah during the last few years. Lauren was the most popular name last year and second most popular the year before, but a rare( albeit relatively) down year has it all the down to fifth with seven.
We dance in 11!
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About the Author
As THON weekend approaches, a fundraising year like no other in THON history wraps up.
“Whether this team is a No. 3 seed or or a No. 4 seed, they’re going to have a real opportunity to be in the Sweet Sixteen. If you’re a Penn State basketball fan, that’s like the Final Four. That week of hype and attention gives a team a brand.”
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