How the American Football Got Its Shape

With the shape of footballs receiving lots of attention lately, have you ever wondered why footballs look the way they do in the first place?

This oblong ball with pointy ends is rich in history and its look has changed several times. In fact, the first football did not look like today’s prolate spheroid (that’s the technical name for this ball) at all.

The sport of football evolved in North America by combining rugby and soccer in the 19th century collegiate system. The balls northeast colleges used in the “free-for-all” games between freshman and sophomore men were made out of inflated pig bladders because they were semi-round, durable and easily accessible.

However, these early “balls” were difficult (not to mention gross to blow up) and no two balls took the same shape. In order to prolong the life span of the ball, players encased the pig bladder in calfskin sewn together and sealed up with lacing through eyelets.

football-history[This image comes from]

 A tale of hearsay from the first intercollegiate football game between Princeton and Rutgers in 1869 suggests the ball evolved from round to oval because of physical exhaustion. The two teams had to stop playing several times to open the leather encasing and reflate the bladder. The players would take turns with the inflation duty. After several game stoppages, the players grew weary of this effort and continued to play with a semi-deflated ball resembling more of an oval.

In 1905, the forward pass was added to the rules in an attempt to curb the series of rough-play fatalities and injuries throughout the collegiate and high school football systems. By this point in time, college football brought in tens of thousands of spectators to most games. The first forward pass was introduced into the sport in a meeting between St. Louis University and Carrol College. That first aerial attempt was incomplete, rendering the new play unpopular. It was not until 1907 when Pop Warner, Pennsylvania’s Carlisle Indian Industrial School’s coach, embraced and perfected passing plays, paving the way to make passes the dominant factor in the game we know today.

The success of the passing game created the demand for the ball to become more aerodynamic. The ball took on its prolate spheroid shape, allowing it to be thrown accurately and efficiently as it traveled through the air. The shape also allowed for players to grip the ball with one hand and throw a perfect spiral, reducing drag on the football. The inner pig bladder of the ball was replaced with a vulcanized rubber, but still encased with leather and sewn with vinyl stitching.

Since 1941, the NFL has been using handcrafted footballs supplied by Wilson. To this day these official games balls are handmade by 120 people employed at the Wilson football factory in Ada, Ohio. Nothing is automated on the factory floor. The leather—sourced from cowhides from Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa—is tanned with an exclusive “top secret” football tanning procedure. Each football is made up of four pieces of stamped leather (giving them the pebble grain texture that increase friction and grip on the football) and a synthetic bladder. All are hand-laced with a single piece of vinyl containing no knots. The Wilson factory produces 4,000 of these footballs each day.

Today, official footballs for the NFL must meet certain criteria to be used in a game. The ball must be a hand-selected Wilson, bearing the signature of the Commissioner of the League. It must be the natural tan color without corrugations of any kind. The ball has to be between 11 and 11.25 inches long and have a long circumference of 28 to 28.5 inches and a short circumference of 21 to 21.25 inches. It must weigh between 14 and 15 ounces and be inflated to 12.5 to 13.5 psi.

The NCAA has the choice of using slightly smaller footballs in their games and teams may choose what ball they want to use. Some of the more common balls used are made by Wilson or Nike. Wilson’s collegiate footballs also have a white stripe on the top ends of the ball. This creates greater visibility of the ball during night games. (Up until the1950s, before the advancement of stadium lighting, all balls used in night games were white).


Though we commonly refer to the American football as pigskin—history tells us that the ball never used the skin of a pig nor was it originally intended to be a prolate spheroid. It was the evolution of the game and the common acceptance of non-uniform shaped balls that heralded the final shape of the American football.

GTM Wins an Award!

GTM Sportswear is the most recent company to receive the Employer Engagement Initiative award from Flint Hills Technical College. The initiative, set forth by the Kansas Board of Regents and Kansas Department of Commerce, recognizes outstanding partnerships between business and industry and postsecondary institutions.

Located in Manhattan, KS, GTM Sportswear provides custom uniforms, practice apparel and warm up gear for sports teams. Since 1989, the company has provided apparel to over 1.1 million teams and currently employs nearly 900 team members. GTM has developed a strong partnership with FHTC through the Graphic Arts Technology program, providing annual facility tours and guest speakers for the program. In addition, GTM provides several internships for FHTC students; in the past three years the company has hired 12 interns with five of those students becoming full-time employees at the Manhattan headquarters.

“It is our job here at Flint Hills Technical College to provide quality employees for our business and industry partners. We are excited to continue to provide employees for GTM Sportswear. The partnership has been a wonderful experience for all parties involved, but the students are the ones that are benefiting the most. The graphic arts department can only do so much, but when you bring on a partner like GTM it allows us to do so much more,” stated Graphic Arts Technology instructor, Bryan Crouch.

Through the Graphic Arts Technology program students learn to design and prepare printed material including books, magazines, newspapers, greeting cards, and advertising material. Students become well-versed in typography, layout and design, graphics software, photography, screen printing, finishing and binding materials, and web design. The program offers a one-year technical certificate, as well as an Associate of Applied Science degree. Internship opportunities through companies like GTM Sportswear provide real-world, hands-on experience during the student’s college career.

GTM Sportswear is the seventh business and industry partner to receive the Champion Level award from Flint Hills Technical College. To learn more about Graphic Arts Technology, visit

See the original article and more here-

Top 6 Campwear Trends For 2015

Getting burned out? Put the passion back in your cheer!

You’ve been working hard in practice for weeks now. It’s competition season and everything is wearing you down. The basketball schedule is hectic and the team keeps losing. You are sore, tired and are having trouble keeping up with your class load. It’s starting to happen: you’re getting burned out.Cheerleading is a physically and mentally demanding sport. It is easy to become overwhelmed and exhausted at some point during the season. But, we have tips that will help you keep the fire and push through the hard times.

1. Don’t get frustrated

When you are on the brink of a burn out, the worst thing you can do is get frustrated. In cheerleading, frustration is like poison. It rubs off on your teammates, leads to unsafe skills and it drains you mentally. So right when you start feeling frustrated with cheer, take three deep breaths through your nose—really feel it deep in your tummy—then let it out of your mouth. Then choose a three-word mantra that reminds you why you tried out for the team. Your mantra can be simple like “I love cheer,” “my team’s great,” “have no fear,” “it’s my passion” or “it’s worth it.” After you have picked the mantra, close your eyes, take in some deep breaths in and out while you repeat your new mantra in your head. Once you feel less frustrated, open your eyes and attack your cheerleading challenge with your new, positive attitude.

McPherson High School Cheer  2. Communicate

Cheerleaders often hold in their pain, tiredness, soreness or stress. It is a quality we learn to help carry our teammates through the challenges we face. However, if you are feeling burned out, it is important that your coaches know. It is easy to get caught up in the season or practice, and many times your coaches don’t realize how heavy your load is. Talk to them. Tell him or her that you are feeling burned out and what is causing you to feel this way. You will be amazed at how much better you will feel when you communicate. Plus, your coach is now in a position to work with you and hopefully help find a solution that will get you through your rough patch.

3. Get organized

We often get burned out not only because of our cheerleading schedules, but because of everything else going on as well. If you realize you are exhausted and starting to burn out, take 20 minutes and write out your schedule. Include practice times, school, workout times, work, social events and any other commitments you have. Once you write out everything, prioritize the things you need to get done, put off things that aren’t immediate needs and insert an hour or a half hour a day to regroup. If you are coming home from practice right after school and rushing to get your homework done, you burn out much faster. Take time to relax and switch gears. A good time to do this is during your meals. Eat a healthy meal at the table and chill out. You will feel much better.

4. Be in the moment

When you’re on burn out mode, it is easy to fall into a negative mode and dread heading to practice. But, instead of spending your time anticipating how tired you will be later today, tomorrow or next week, focus on your day-to-day commitments. You are capable of getting though anything you set your mind to and there is a reason you joined cheerleading. If you are at practice, don’t keep an eye on the clock waiting for it to be over. Concentrate on the stunt you have worked hard on, the smile on your teammates’ faces, your coaches’ encouraging words and constructive comments. If you can be in the moment at each practice, game or competition, you will be able to remember all of the little things you love about cheerleading. Enjoy them. You might be burned out, but those things are still there. You just have to notice them.Hopkins High School Cheer

Burnouts are temporary. You will get through it! Remember why you decided to become a cheerleader. Below is a quote from Mia Hamm, a professional soccer player, who gives great advice for what to do when you are feeling defeated. The final tip: keep this quote in your cheer bag and take it out when you’re burned out. It is sure to light your fire and keep it burning throughout the season.

 “Somewhere behind the athlete you’ve become and the hours of practice and the coaches who have pushed you is a little girl who fell in love with the game and never looked back… play for her.” – Mia Hamm

How Not to Wash Your Cheer Uniform

A busy schedule of cheerleading, school and life can really take a toll on your cheer uniform. When you get home, the question becomes how to wash your cheerleading uniform. With every great idea of how to care for your cheer uniform comes a whole book filled with bad ideas. Here are some of the way you can ruin your uniform:

Tossing it in With the Rest of the Laundry

Never mix colors with whites — unless you want to turn that delightful white shirt into a delicate shade of pink. Remember: if it looks different, it may make everything else different!

Separate white and colored clothing, and make sure to use a little color-safe bleach to bring out the purest white possible in your clothes.

cheer love

 Removing Stains with Acid

Grass stains are a pain to remove, and a stubborn mark can turn a cute skirt into something only fit to wear while gardening. When the first blotch of green appears, it is common to seek out any remedy possible. The one thing you should never reach for is that big bottle of acid. It may be good for cleaning stone, but not for clothes!

One drop will get rid of the stain — and the fabric underneath! Imagine the fashion trend you will set wearing an acid-holed cheerleading outfit to the football game. Use the right detergent, or risk damaging your clothes.

 Washing with Hard Water

We covered strong cleaning agents and mixing and matching, now let us look at the type of liquid you should use.

Hard water, which is water that has high levels of calcium and magnesium, can permanently stain clothes and ruin that beautiful uniform. Make sure to have the softest, purest water possible when washing your clothes. Otherwise, the results will be less than stellar.

 Back to Reality

Now for some serious information about caring for your cheer uniform. Start with a presoak. Presoaking is the most gentle way to deal with the stains and odors that will inevitably find their way into your uniform.

Choosing a detergent for your cheer uniform is of utmost importance to keep your uniform in its best condition. Do not use bleach or fabric softener. Bleach can discolor the vibrant sections of your uniform. Fabric softener can cause residue to build up and often comes with its own coloring, which you will not want to transfer to your uniform. We recommend using Cheer, Tide Sport and, when necessary, a color-safe bleach.

Wash your uniform alone and in cold water in the washing machine. It’s even better if you can wash your uniform by hand, but be careful not to wring it out too aggressively.

cheer love2

It is not recommended to dry your cheer uniform as the heat and tumbling action of the dryer can cause your uniform to lose its shape and can flatten pleats. The best practice is to let your uniform air-dry. Find a flat, clean surface to lay your cheer uniform on. Better yet, you may purchase a sweater drying rack to promote airflow around your uniform while it dries. A small, dry towel or cloth can be inserted into the top of the uniform if desired. This will assist in keeping the front and back sides of your uniform separated while they dry. If you feel that your uniform is wrinkled or creased after air-drying, use a steamer (not an iron) to finish it off.

Tips for Balancing School, Social Life and Cheerleading

Being an active high school student is full of challenges, especially if one is fortunate enough to join the cheer team. Joining a sports team always comes with a big commitment and can sometimes turn out to be stressful if time is not managed properly.

Cheerleading can be an all-encompassing activity for a young person. Add to that the complex school assignments and social life of a high school student, and you can get an overwhelming schedule. Time can certainly seem limited, but with proper planning and effort, you’ll be able to maximize the time you have. Here are some ideas for balancing your schoolwork, social life and cheerleading activities.

First, think about all of the people in your life who can help you organize and manage your schedule. Keep your friends and family members posted on the things you have to do. Meet with your school guidance counselor and tell him or her your goals for the year. Talk to your coach if you are feeling stressed. Your coach will motivate you to be the best athlete and can also help you overcome the hurdles of high school life. Your support system of friends and family may provide effective ways to manage your schedule. Pay attention to advice they give.

A social life is vital for developing a healthy personality, and participating in high school teams and groups help with this endeavor. However, it is vital to balance this with the main reason for attending high school: academics! Remember that at some high schools, team membership is dependent on academic performance. In the end, your schedule is your personal responsibility, so use the tools available to you. Think about ways you can prioritize your responsibilities. You can set your mobile phone to act as a reminder for various important events and also help manage your availability. You can also make use of a planner to write down the various activities lined up for each day. The use of a to-do list will help you accomplish all your daily activities and also keep you organized. Make use of the time available to you prudently. Be attentive in your classes, and take every opportunity you have to do your homework.

Teenagers need more sleep than most people are willing to acknowledge. However, numerous school districts are pushing back the start of the school day to allow students the opportunity to get more sleep. Do not allow social functions, especially practice for cheerleading, to interrupt on time that should be spent sleeping. A well-rested student is the best-prepared student.

If you are a parent or coach of a cheerleader, be on the lookout for bullying behavior or misinterpretation of interactions of members of the cheer team. It can be especially easy for students who are still learning about social interactions to offend or feel offended by someone else. Monitor text messages, social media and in-person gatherings to identify the initial hints of a problem. By intervening early, it is possible to keep everyone focused on the positive aspects of the social group. A bully issue can have a negative impact on a young woman’s life.

With proper planning, you’ll be able to balance your schedule. Learning how to balance your social life, school and cheerleading activities will help you develop self-discipline and time-management skills that will be of great value to you later in life.

April Photo Contest Winner Is…

GTM Celebrates 25 Years!

In honor of GTM’s 25th birthday, we thought it would be fun to show you a timeline of GTM’s success and expansion.  Here is some insight about our history and how it all began!  Did you know that GTM was original named “It’s Greek To Me?”

GTM Spotlight: Minnesota Viking Cheerleaders

Did you know GTM sponsors more than 15 different NFL Cheer Teams?  We asked the Minnesota Vikings’ Director & Treasurer, Tami Krause, about her team and why they love GTM!  Check out what she had to say.

Put Your Best Foot Forward

Transition from High School to College Cheer/Dance Team

Transitioning from high school to college is tough as it is, but adding college dance or cheer team into the picture is even more stressful.  GTM wants to help you succeed and answer any questions or concerns you may have.  We have compiled a list of Q & A’s for you to take a look at as you prepare for your try outs!