Sole Roll: A Dustbuster for Ballers

Nike, are you listening?

Rarely has the traction of one's shoes meant more to a player's game than it did for young Mercer Islander Rob Potashnick. An unsculpted, medium-sized Caucasian trying to compete in a tall black man's game, Potashnick's retro offensive arsenal—saturated with ball fakes, high post dexterity, and a whip-quick release— rarely saw his feet leave the ground. Now a successful residential Realtor on the Rock, Potashnick has managed to stay connected to the game as head coach of a select eighth-grade AAU team called the Bulls. Here, Potashnick became rather annoyed with the options (hands, mats) available to his charges for keeping their sneakers dust-free. "I remember watching one of my kids [wipe the dust off his shoes with his hands], shoot the free throw, and wipe the sweat off his face," recalls Potashnick. "That mat's great, everyone uses it, but you never see kids rolling to the gym with a mat on their back. Basically, we took a paint brush and a lint brush and merged them, and just got word that the patent was approved last month." What started as a hobby is now threatening to become a full-fledged business enterprise, as Potashnick's product, Sole Roll, has attracted a client list that includes locally bred NBA stars Jason Terry, Nate Robinson, Spencer Hawes, Brandon Roy, and Martell Webster. What's more, the leadership team of Potashnick's Shoe Traction Inc. features his former classmate Fred Brown Jr. (son of Sonic legend Downtown Freddy) as president of grassroots basketball. Now, with a young family and his day job requiring his undivided attention, Potashnick finds himself at a crossroads. He'd like to license the Sole Roll to a major shoe company like Nike. "To sell a retail sporting-goods product, I'm out of my league," he concedes. "I need some help."

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