HILLARY SMITH: L.C. grad finds a new way to teach catchers

2014-06-01T20:30:00Z 2014-06-01T22:05:15Z HILLARY SMITH: L.C. grad finds a new way to teach catchersHillary Smith Times Columnist nwitimes.com
June 01, 2014 8:30 pm  • 

Frank Ruvoli was home on spring break from Wabash College, injured and away from the sport he loved: baseball.

He was considering all of the things that players consider while sidelined and a thought came to him. He suddenly had a better way to teach catchers how to be better catchers.

There are two problems that face young catchers, Ruvoli says.

"The first is that they're naturally afraid of the ball so they turn their head and then they expose their throat and that becomes a habit," the 2009 Lake Central grad said. "The other ... you are supposed to keep your hand behind the glove to protect your fingers from getting dislocated or broken."

Staring at boxes of sports equipment from his youth, Ruvoli dreamed up the solution.

Meet, Perfect-A-Block. Ruvoli's invention uses resistance tubing and wrist straps to teach catchers to keep their head down, their hands back and watch the ball.

A philosophy major in college, Ruvoli has become a master at entrepreneurship over the course of the last two years. He's worked through everything from patent application (the patent on Perfect-A-Block is pending), to marketing, to finding a manufacturer that would take a small, start-up sized order.

All the while, he graduated from Wabash and started a career at Logistics Brokerage in Chicago. Still a resident of the region, Perfect-A-Block is officially a local company, based at Ruvoli's house in St. John.

It is officially all-Indiana made, with the manufacturing done at Infinity Products, Inc. in Avon, Ruvoli said.

"They said 'we're small, we're entrepreneurial, and we like helping small companies,'" Ruvoli said. "It was cool because I did so many Google searches thinking 'this big company should help me out,' and no, no, no then after finally going through different searches, they popped up. They were welcoming from the first phone call, so that was great."

Without many catcher-designed teaching tools out there, Ruvoli is hoping his invention can find its intended audience. He's shipped his device to catchers to several states around the country, including to Pennsylvania, Texas and Alabama.

"I was talking to another region guy I work with and he said, 'baseball is a pastime sport,'" Ruvoli said. "'When you try to change something or bring something new in it takes a while to catch fire, but when it does, it'll run up,' and I really hope it does."

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach her at hillary.smith@nwi.com.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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