The manufactured trampoline, as we know it today, was
created by two men, George Nissen and Larry Griswold.
Around 1935, Griswold, then the assistant gymnastics coach
at the University of Iowa, and Nissen, a tumbler on the University of Iowa gymnastics team, “made regular jaunts to Bloomington, Illinois where numerous circus people had their winter homes.
Among them were the “Flying Wards”, some of the finest
trapeze performers in the world. Griswold and Nissen worked
out with them at the local YMCA, and frequently helped them make or mend their large trapeze nets. Nissen remembers the hours they spent in the basement of the YMCA, threading the long cords of the nets, using large javelin-head needles. This experience was one of several that led them to the idea of creating a trampoline.
One day, with the help of the wrestling coach at the
University of Iowa, Griswold and Nissen bolted together an angle iron frame. A piece of canvas, in which they had inserted grommets along each side, was then attached to the frame by using springs. This was the first trampoline.
Since Nissen was still training for tumbling, they decided
to move the trampoline to a YMCA camp where he was an instructor. There, during his free time, Nissen used it for his tumbling training. Immediately, he found that the children loved it. This was the first realization that the trampoline could be more than a piece of equipment to use when performing, or seriously training. It was something that many others could enjoy.
In 1942, Griswold and Nissen decided to formalize their
small operation of making trampolines. They created the Griswold-Nissen Trampoline & Tumbling Company, and history was made.
But where does the name “Trampoline” come from? “El
trampolin” means diving board, in Spanish. George Nissen,
the co-creator of the competitive style trampoline, heard
the word on a performance tour in Mexico in the late
1930’s. He liked the sound of it, and decided to Anglicize
the spelling and call his bouncing rig a Trampoline, a term
he later registered as a trademark.
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