Tagging along with his father at a bowling tournament, a young Ronald Hickland Jr. met a bowling ball designer. After talking with him about his job, Ronald expressed interest in learning how to eventually take his job. The designer told him that it wouldn't be an easy trade to master. That's because bowling ball designers are among the rarest jobs in all of sports.
A round bowling ball seems simple enough to design, but it requires a very specialized skill set. To design the full ball, you need both a degree in chemical engineering and mechanical engineering. Chemical engineering is needed to design the coverstock, which is the outer part of the ball. For the core of the ball, expertise in mechanical enginnering is required to ensure that the inner part of the ball operates properly based on it's goal. The core is designed around the style of a specific bowler.
Ronald Hickland Jr. decided to dedicate himself to becoming a bowling ball designer. He worked on his grades while building contacts in the industry. After graduating from Purdue University's engineering program, we got the job of his dreams as the Director of Technology at Ebonite International, a company responsible for producing 60% of all bowling balls in the world.
My Interview with Ronald Hickland Jr.
In 2013, I had the opportunity to interview Ronald. I was working for the Collegiate Entrepreneurs' Organization (CEO) and I had recruited Ronald to speak at the event. Before speaking with him, I had never even considered the rarity of a bowling ball designer or that the process was so complex.
"There are only four people in the world who design bowling balls," said HIckland, who went on to start his own company in the bowling industry called Creating the Difference.
I admire the way Ronald stumbled on what he felt he was called to do, and despite the odds stacked against him, he got exactly what he wanted. But it didn't come overnight. He had to learn, plan, network, and work his butt off to turn his dreams into reality.
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