Cleated Footware Designer, Reebok International, Canton, Massachusetts

Best Foot Forward

The shoes on the feet of scrambling National Football League quarterback Vince Young start in the hands of Mike Glancy.

The "avid sports guy" and former all-conference lacrosse midfielder specializes in the aesthetic design of shoes with cleats for baseball, football, lacrosse, soccer, and, now and then, cricket. Glancy turns a hand-drawn sketch into a three-dimensional image on a computer screen, based on input from athletes, the Reebok marketing crew, and engineers who fuss about anatomical correctness. Sent the designs and materials, workers in production facilities in China and Vietnam create prototypes, finessed on-site by Glancy three or four times a year. "I love getting my hands dirty at the factories," he said. "That's where I feel the most creative. "

From the Ground Up

Shoes for the elite athletes who work with Reebok are shaped by molds of their feet. NFL quarterbacks, including Young and the brothers Peyton and Eli Manning, and wide receivers, including Santonio Holmes, Steve Smith, and Reggie Wayne, are among those involved at the sketch stage.

" We constantly have athletes coming in," Glancy said. "Some guys have a tough couple of games and they might blame it on their footwear. It's important to build up a great relationship."

Among the athletes who have beaten a path to Glancy's desk are baseball stars Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz, who made the most of "special shoes" of ostrich hide, created for the 2004 playoff run of the Boston Red Sox that ended in the team's World Series championship. Among Glancy's personal collection of one hundred pairs of sneakers and three hundred pairs of cleats is a pair of ostrich golf cleats, crafted from the Red Sox leftovers.

The Art of Athletics

Glancy was a studio-art major. "Somehow I wanted to incorporate art and athletics, two of my passions," he said. "I seem to have found a perfect balance." A "well-rounded, studio-art background is key" to his career, but many of his colleagues started in the car industry. "Look at the body of a car and the body of a shoe. There are a lot of similarities." In both cases, the defining moment is when the rubber meets the road. DeliciousFacebook FacebookStumbleUpon StumbleUponDigg Diggreddit reddit