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N-W CO '78 member looking to change sport cleat industry

by yarger
Thu, Aug 9th 2018 02:25 pm
Portese aiming to lower leg injuries with new cleats
By David Yarger
Tribune Editor
James Portese knows what it's like to be an athlete.
Portese, a Class of 1978 graduate from Niagara-Wheatfield High School and Class of 1993 N-W Athletic Hall of Famer, has played football in college at William Penn University, where he was an All-American center and then in the United States Football League and he was also signed by the Dallas Cowboys as a long snapper, but never played for Dallas, due to a player strike.
Portese also developed a long snappers program and sent his program to strength and conditioning coach Thomas Delorimiere, who trained Lucas Gravelle, a N-W alumnus who was recently signed by the Miami Dolphins as a long snapper. Delorimiere trains athletes at Elite Fitness and Personal Training, located at 4611 Military Road.
Portese's experiences as a professional athlete gave him the knowledge for his next endeavor - a cleat to reduce injuries of young and professional athletes alike.
Portese is in the midst of creating his Pivot cleats, which he hopes will reduce lower leg injuries to softball, baseball and football players. Portese said he's currently working on the documentation for the cleat's patent.
"I just get tired of baseball, softball, (football) players tweaking their ankles, tweaking their knees, tweaking their hips, because they're trying to pivot. If you look at 85 percent of sports, you pivot, so I developed my own cleat to where the cleats at the bottom allow you to pivot more than just stick," said Portese, who currently resides in Las Vegas and coaches girls softball at Liberty High School in Henderson, Nevada, as well as the Lil' Rebels travel softball teams, and also spent time coaching football out in Las Vegas.
Portese said he's going to have three designs for the cleats, one being a high-top mid that just covers the ankle with a built in ankle support system; another being the same cleat without the ankle support system; and the last being a low-cut version. Portese said he's going to start his cleats on the baseball and softball fields, and then work on a development for football.
"How many guys blow out a knee, blow out an ankle in football? Too many. Why? Because, you're not pivoting. Your foot sticks. ... So I researched this and I think I have the answer. I think I can reduce 85 percent of these injuries," Portese said.
In the design, Portese said each cleat will have initials and numbers of girls who started his Lil' Rebels softball program. Also, Portese is adding material used in bulletproof vests, in the toe and ankle of the cleats. The reason for Kevlar, Portese said, "As a baseball player, how many times were you cleated on your toes? Or how many times did you foul a ball off your ankle? So, I'm going to protect the ankle. It's going to wrap around both ankles and around your Achilles tendon and then the toe as well."
Coming up with the idea, Portese added, "I just think there's a lot of torque on the ankle and the knee. Especially when you swing a bat. If we could develop something that the boys and the girls could pivot easier with, I think we'll reduce the injuries and give them a better opportunity to not get injured and get that scholarship. ... I just want to give every kid an opportunity to earn that scholarship without getting injured."
Portese said he is going to Mexico in late August to see creations of sample cleats and then his idea will carry on from there.
With big sports brands like Nike, Adidas, Under Armour and more in the world, Portese said his cleat will differ from the big brands in a number of ways.
"The cleat itself is going to have a different cleat at the bottom. And for parents to go purchase cleats with a Nike cleat, Under Armour, Adidas, whatever it may be - you're looking between $90 and $110 for a pair of cleats. I know how much they're going to cost to make and you don't need to charge that much. ... My cleats are going to cost anywhere between $45 and $60, depending on my margins.
"I'm gonna have something a little different, too. If you send your cleats back to me, I'll give you a 10 percent discount on the next ones you buy. So, now I can do research on the wear and tear of my cleats, which nobody else does. ... I'd like to do the whole package kind of thing," Portese said.
Portese stands by his product as well and believes it really could make a difference on the athletic field.
"I think it's going to change where there is less injuries, and I think it's going to be very cost effective. I also think there will be more of a protective and safety mechanism, because I'm putting the material in there," he said.
Coming from Niagara-Wheatfield, Portese gave credit to the mentorship he received in his time in the area. Portese added that he's taken what he's learned from the people of N-W and used it in his everyday endeavors.
"Coach (Armand) Cacciatore, coach John LaChance, Bruce Fraser, Rich Vickie, Doc Massotti, Don Miller, Bud Prescott, Joe Kwiatkowski, Frank Guisti, Lee Wallace, Steve Smith  - they were an extension of our parents. They took responsibility for us when our parents were not around. They led by example. They played the games before. Nobody worked harder than those guys and they prepared us for the next level. If you have that background, if you have that base - you can do anything.
 "Everybody has to have some kind of faith. Coach Cacciatore used to bring us to church every Saturday morning before games. After church we'd go out for breakfast for bonding.  ... If you believe in what your faith is, it's going to guide you in the right direction.
"No. 2 is your family. ... Who took you to practice everyday? Mom and dad. Who was there for you after every game, whether you played bad or good? Mom and dad. ...
"No. 3 is ... when you look at yourself in the mirror, you gotta say to yourself, 'What am I going to do today to contribute to someone to make a positive influence in someone's life. ... I want to win the day. I tell my kids that, you want to win the day.
"So when it comes to how does this affect me now to where I'm developing new things, I've got other things I'm developing in sports - that's why. Because of the mentorship - I had coaches who cared," he said.
With time and determination from Portese, more and more people will soon discover the true mission behind his idea to change the cleat industry.

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