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Ideas To Prototypes

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In 2004 I returned to California from Ohio and I settled into an athletic training position at Santa Margarita Catholic High School, an elite private high school. My dad asked if I still wanted to pursue my balance board idea. He gave me a book on patents and strongly encouraged me to develop my invention. I looked in the United States Patent database and saw all the previous balance boards and the wheel of inspiration was let loose.

My younger brothers, Daniel the woodworker and Joe the mechanic, and I cut a big round disk out of plywood, glued and nailed it and rode it on an old basketball. It worked, but not too well. It had a perimeter rail around the entire 24" platform. The forward and backward motion was too much to handle and once ball rolled past your feet and it was impossible to stay balanced. A few near face plants and we quickly learned the rail had to be rectangle in shape.

We then went to a local skate shop and bought some used skateboard decks for $5 and modified them. Determined that a perimeter rail was needed I took garden hose and stacked it around the entire bottom. Several layers and about 50 screws and nails later, I tried to ride it. The middle would ride but the nose and tail were problematic.

Then we made a big rectangle 45" long and rode it on a bowling ball coated with the rubber skin of a four square ball. Without the rubber the board would slide off the ball or the ball would stay in place and rotate in the carpet. This board road pretty well and I was excited to find a good board design.

Sandy’s son Ryan, a talented Indo Board rider, snowboarder and engineering student had some ideas for new board shapes. He cut out an elliptical shape and a wooden perimeter rail and it rode like no other. Ryan drenched his shirt in sweat and his friends thought he would crack his head open. He quickly proved them wrong. Our first boards were about 45" long with large rail dimensions and riding on a bowling ball.

We had major trouble finding a ball to ride. We tried everything- softball, baseball, boche, foam dimple softball, mini bouncy balls, air filled basketball, medicine balls, tennis ball, racquetball, duckpin bowling, candlepin bowling, foam Nerf, wooden fence post balls, pool cue, lacrosse balls and on and on. Everything either broke, was too small or was too slick to provide traction. I searched the isles of sporting good stores like a zombie trying to find something to ride.

We could only ride bowling balls and my brothers would search garage sales for cheap balls we could modify. We coated the them with a spray-on rubber for traction and rode them until it peeled off. We also need traction on the board and glued yoga mats, thin rubber or grip tape to the bottom. Eventually these would wear and peel off too.

The endless hunt for a solid ball that would grip anything was on!

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