Cliff Ball

Cliff Ball

(at that time VP of NBRC)

Provided courtesy the Utah State Roller Club

1- Tell us about Cliff, where do you live, work etc.

I first started keeping rollers in Canton, Ohio, in 1960 when my father bought my first birds for me from one of the first importers of rollers, Rich Krupke, also of Canton, Ohio. In 1963, I became a junior member of the Akron-Canton Roller Club, whose members consisted of such veterans of the sport as Frank Dallas, Wally Fort, Matt King, Howard Bealle, Roger Baker, and Walter Harter.  That year I also won my first show award, receiving a trophy for Best Old Roller Cock at the Stark County Fair in Ohio which was awarded to me, at the age of 14, by Joe Quinn. After a long hiatus from the hobby, during which I obtained a degree in dentistry from The Ohio State University, I was married/divorced three times, and I raised a family of two sons and one daughter after moving from Ohio to Greensboro, North Carolina. I returned to the roller hobby in 2004 and have been active and supportive in all phases of the breeding, training, and flying of Birmingham Rollers since that time. I am an active breeder, trainer and flyer of the James Turner family of Birmingham Rollers, breeding about 200 rollers each year. I have never sold a pigeon, but regularly donate kits and breeding pairs of rollers to NBRC and World Cup auctions, local and regional roller events, and to new fanciers in the hobby, to whom I attempt to serve as mentor and coach when I am needed. In order to gain experience breeding and training rollers.

2- Tells us about your birds.
I have worked with a number of families of rollers, including Pensoms, Schoenings, Jaconettes, Scott Campbells, Higgins, and Don Simpsons. I find that every family has its own unique qualities, and its own inherent set of problems to work with. As one might expect, the individual birds that stand out in my mind are birds that I have flown in my own back yard; primarily because I have had the opportunity to observe them a number of times under different flying conditions. One is a Don Simpson “Old Almond Cock” family of rollers that I raised; a 60-footer that was a very clearly-observable shrinker for the last 20-feet of spinning. The other two were 35-foot spinners from my Turner family, with no wings observable during their spinning; true blur-factor performers possessing all the qualities we aspire to create in our birds. One of my current projects involves breeding and training the Hannes Rossou/Ron Swart family of South African  rollers to determine if there are any significant differences in the performance qualities from my family of rollers or from the families that I have worked with in the past. Another pet project of mine is the investigation of dna sequencing of the Birmingham Roller; for the purposes of the identification of  parentage, of lineage, and possibly of  markers for the inheritance of roll. As to my greatest achievement in the hobby? I think that only time will tell, depending on the results of some of these projects and endeavors in which I am currently involved.

3- You are the Vise-President of the NBRC how have you used this opportunity to enhance the roller hobby?
From 2005 to the present day, I have been very active in the organizations within our hobby: reorganizing our local roller club, the Central Carolina Performing Roller Club, as its Secretary-Treasurer. In 2007, I was an instrumental player in this club’s hosting of the NBRC National Convention in High Point, North Carolina, viewed by many members to be one of the best NBRC conventions ever. During that same time, for the past seven years, I have served as the Regional Director for the Southeast Region of the World Cup. As Regional Director I have actively participated in discussions and policy-making on the World Cup Executive Committee, organizing the regional competitions, and hosting international finals judges from all over the world in my home. During that same time I served as NBRC Regional Director for Region 1D for four years, likewise actively participating and supporting discussions and policy-making on the NBRC Executive Committee. I authored and submitted the predominant elements of theNBRC Fly Policy to the NBRC Executive Committee, which was subsequently approved and incorporated as official policy. At the same time, I was appointed to serve as the NBRC National Fly Director under two NBRC Presidents, a position I held for four years from 2006 through 2010. As National Fly Director I was instrumental in recruiting Hawaii to form a region and participate in NBRC competitions, as well as working to establish Virginia and Florida as separate regions. As a result, flyers in both Hawaii and Virginia have produced National Champions in NBRC competitions. In 2012 I was elected to the position of Vice-President of the NBRC which I have held for two years. For these past two years, I have administered the Master Flyer Award Program, directed the Hall of Fame Program and also served as Facilitator to the Executive Committee discussions and voting.
In my early years in the NBRC, I digitally updated and re-mastered the old, out-dated NBRC emblem into a new, more professional electronic form for a wide range of uses in the NBRC. Using this re-mastered emblem, I then developed an NBRC auto and truck window decal that was made available and marketed to NBRC members through its Accessories Secretary, Henry Cook. I also researched and developed the marketing for a handy tool to be used as an egg candler for NBRC  breeders, also available through the NBRC Accessories Secretary. In 2006, I wrote The Regional Director’s Handbook for the NBRC; an outline of the responsibilities and duties of an NBRC Regional Director, which has been distributed and utilized since that time in the training of new Regional Directors in the NBRC.
In 2012, I nominated Joe Quinn for the NBRC Hall of Fame; researched his accomplishments and provided them for the Hall of Fame members who subsequently inducted  Joe into the Hall of Fame.

4- Being a judge and having seen many kits, tell use about the ones that stand out in your mind.

I am absolutely committed to roller competitions and have participated in World Cup and NBRC 11 & 20 bird competitions every year that I have had rollers. The success of my family of birds speaks for itself as I am a consistent competitor for regional qualifier for the finals in both competitions; competing in one of the toughest regions in the country, against veteran flyers; a double Master Flyer, a World Cup Champion, and four NBRC National Champions. These efforts, so far, have rewarded me with nearly three-fourths of the points needed to achieve Master Flyer status.  And I support local flies and roller events on a regular basis traveling to sponsored events around the country, supporting the NBRC Conventions by attending each and every year.
Besides participating in roller competitions as a competitor, I receive many requests to judge roller competitions each year and contribute to competition venues as a judge in NBRC and World Cup competitions across the country, having judged in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Colorado, Washington and Oregon. In my experience, the regional qualifying kits consist of good rollers from many families of rollers, and I have not seen any single family that seems to have a “corner on the market” concerning performance. I have seen rollers capable of quality performance in every family. It is the commitment to quality of each individual fancier that seems to really make the difference.

5- One of my all time favorite articles is “Drop a Pebble” can you tell us about the effects you have heard about, coming from this well written article?

Throughout the years, I have authored dozens of articles about the breeding, training and flying of Birmingham Rollers and have been a steady contributor of these articles to the NBRC Bulletin and the Roller Journal (no longer in publication) on a consistent and regular basis. You ask about the article, “Drop A Pebble”, that I wrote about a young boy who wanted, more than anything, to be a roller fancier. But this was not to be, however, as his life was snuffed out prematurely by a drunk driver. Based on the tremendous feedback that I have received from roller fanciers across the country, I can see that this article has touched the hearts of many, and help to make them appreciate the value of life and of the endeavors that we pursue in our brief time here on Earth.

I am active on a half dozen internet roller sites and social media on a daily basis, sharing  the benefit of my experience to newcomers to the hobby, contributing ideas and opinions to discussions and blogs on a wide range of roller topics. My primary purpose has been directed toward correcting the misinformation and rumor that is sometimes posted as fact on these sites….especially on the subject of families of Birmingham Rollers with certain color modifiers. As a result, many myths have been dispelled, and the record set straight.

Over the past five years or so, I have also gathered information from a number of veteran fliers who have contributed to my first attempt at authoring a Birmingham Roller Breed and Performance Standard to be used as a basis for a roller standard to be implemented, at some point in the future, by the NBRC and World Cup, as well as by local roller organizations.

7- What does the hobby need right now, to help it continue?

There are a number of things that are needed in our hobby, today. Primarily, we need to continue to support change as our hobby grows from the locally-based backyard hobby that it once was, to the national and international organization that it has, since, become. For example, the timing of our National Championship Competition in the Fall of the year needs to be changed so that we do not continue to sacrifice large numbers of our best rollers to birds of prey. Doing so for the past couple of decades is one of the primary factors that has put the US “behind the eight ball” in international competition. We also need more consistency in our competitions and in the scoring. In order to achieve that, we need to establish performance standards so that judges can be trained and certified, and so that competitors will know the basis upon which their kits will be scored….before the judge steps into their back yard, so that they can breed, train, and select their teams accordingly. We need to clear up a number of gray areas in the By-laws and Fly Rules of our roller organizations. And we need to continue the growth and transparency of the democratic processes under which our hobby operates. And most of all we need to continue to encourage and facilitate the camaraderie and friendship among roller enthusiasts across the nation and around the globe, which is the very life-blood of the roller hobby. My most long-lasting  and favorite moments in the hobby are standing under a kit of good rollers with a group of fellow enthusiasts, and sharing in the jokes and the laughter and the appreciation of quality rolling in the kit in the skies above.

10- Any tips for the new members of the hobby?

For the new members of our hobby, I would recommend that you get involved! Our hobby is only what we as individuals make of it. Participation in all levels of the hobby will make the hobby better, and will make individuals more successful in the hobby. Recognize that there will be disappointments and there will be successes, as with any human endeavor. The key to success is commitment. A casual approach to the hobby can only yield a casual result.

“Align your focus with the solution, not the problem.”