Q: Ingraham High School has a football player with the intriguing name of Sunshine Smotherman. Tell me about him. A: "Sunshine" is a nickname...

Q: Ingraham High School has a football player with the intriguing name of Sunshine Smotherman. Tell me about him.

A: “Sunshine” is a nickname. His real name is Brandon and he is a 6-foot-2, 190-pound senior linebacker and tight end.

Smotherman (an excellent football name) said he was anointed with the nickname when he was a freshman. Newcomers sit on the so-called “hot seat” and tell teammates about themselves. It’s an exercise in team-building.

“They said, ‘Well, you need a nickname,’ ” said Smotherman. “They started calling me ‘Sunshine.’ They said I looked like the dude ['Sunshine'] in ‘Remember the Titans.’ “

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Having long, blond hair might have influenced the choice, too.

“I look like I am from California,” Smotherman said.

The nickname has stuck.

“All my teachers call me ‘Sunshine,’ ” he said. “Even my mom calls me ‘Sunshine.’ “

Ingraham has had its share of interesting names. Prep historian Russ Dille recalls that in 1973 the Rams’ secondary included Craig Fillerup and Jim Spillum. One of the wide receivers that year was Ron Glew.

Q: Did you hear what happened to Anacortes in its football game against Burlington-Edison Sept. 7?

A: Anacortes got mixed up on which down it was and spiked the ball on fourth down at the B-E 6-yard line. The Seahawks were driving for the tying touchdown and after a 3-yard loss and wanted to make sure the right play was called. Thinking it was third down, they spiked the ball to regroup, then discovered they had just wasted their final down. Burlington-Edison won 25-19.

Q: I think I want to be a sportswriter. How can I prepare?

A: Read and write. That’s the same advice author Sinclair Lewis (“Babbit,” “Elmer Gantry”) gave an aspiring novelist in the 1940s: “There are only two ways you can learn to write, by reading and writing.”

In sportswriting, you obviously have to know something about sports. The best ways to learn are by playing the sports, watching them, reading about them and asking questions. You don’t have to be a good athlete or have encyclopedic knowledge. I’m not exactly sure what “icing” is in hockey because I don’t cover the sport. And I’m at peace with the fact I don’t know who holds the major-league record for career hits by a second baseman.

Reading is critical. Your reading list should include Sports Illustrated, the best-written sports publication. The Internet will give you access to newspapers across the country.

There are hundreds of good books about athletes, teams and sports. There is an adage that the smaller the ball (golf, baseball) the better the writing, but I don’t think that is true any longer.

Write for your school paper and see if your area’s weekly newspaper is looking for someone to cover games or write feature stories. Just get started. As you’ll discover the rest of your life, one thing leads to another.

Q: I went to the Mercer Island home football game last Friday and was dumbstruck by the size of the band. Was I really at a high-school game or is Mercer Island actually a Big Ten school?

A: No, the Islanders are in KingCo 3A. The band has 260 members and performed in the Rose Bowl parade at the end of the 2005 football season.

In the spring, M.I.’s jazz band and wind ensemble are going to China on a 10-day trip and will perform on the Great Wall.

Q: I noticed where Sehome of Bellingham boys shot-putters placed 1-2-3 at the state meet last spring, with Steven Ayers, a WSU football recruit, winning with a throw of 64-7 ½. What is the last time a school had such an impressive 1-2-3 performance at state?

A: Scott Spruill, the Yakima-based track writer and historian, recalls that Mead boys went 1-2-3 in the boys’ 3,200 meters at the 1994 Class 4A (then AAA) state meet. Rob Aubrey edged Micah Davis to win and Skiy Detray was third.

Have a question about high-school sports? Craig Smith will find the answer every Tuesday in The Times. Ask your question in one of the following ways: Voice mail (206-464-8279), snail mail (Craig Smith, Seattle Times Sports, P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111) or e-mail csmith@seattletimes.com