Title:
Athletic equipment storage device
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An equipment rack for the storage, drying, and display of sports equipment, such as football equipment uniforms. The equipment rack includes a frame having a ground-contacting base portion and an upper equipment support portion for supporting a helmet, and shoulder pads. In addition, the frame includes a laundry bag support portion that is shaped and sized to receive and retain a laundry bag in a hanging relation proximate the frame. The laundry bag can be used to contain washable items related to an individual's sports uniform, including a jersey, pants, socks, gloves, and undergarments.



Inventors:
Evans, David (Houston, TX, US)
Evans, Jane (Houston, TX, US)
Application Number:
11/585736
Publication Date:
05/10/2007
Filing Date:
10/24/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47F7/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
PUROL, SARAH L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SHAWN HUNTER (HOUSTON, TX, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A sports equipment rack comprising: a frame having: a ground contacting portion; an upper equipment support portion; a laundry bag support portion for supporting a laundry bag; and a laundry bag that is removably secured to the laundry bag support portion.

2. The sports equipment rack of claim 1 wherein the laundry bag support portion comprises a rectangular, generally horizontally disposed bracket.

3. The sports equipment rack of claim 1 wherein the frame is comprised of PVC components.

4. The sports equipment rack of claim 1 wherein the ground contacting portion comprises a plurality of leg members that extend horizontally outward from a T-fitting.

5. The sports equipment rack of claim 1 wherein the upper equipment support portion comprises a central post and a pair of horizontal support arms for supporting a set of shoulder pads.

6. The sports equipment rack of claim 5 wherein the upper equipment support portion further comprises a helmet support member that extends upwardly from the central post.

7. The sports equipment rack of claim 1 wherein the laundry bag further comprises a closure device that can be selectively tightened to removably secure the laundry bag to the laundry bag support portion.

8. A sports equipment rack comprising: a frame having: a ground contacting portion; an upper equipment support portion; and a laundry bag support portion for supporting a laundry bag, the laundry bag support portion comprising a rectangular, generally horizontally disposed bracket that defines a central opening.

9. The sports equipment rack of claim 8 further comprising a laundry bag that is removably secured to the laundry bag support portion.

10. The sports equipment rack of claim 9 wherein the laundry bag further comprises a closure device that can be reversibly tightened to secure the laundry bag to the laundry bag support portion.

11. The sports equipment rack of claim 10 wherein the laundry bag is secured to the laundry bag support portion by: disposing the laundry bag through the central opening; draping a portion of the laundry bag over the laundry bag support portion; and tightening the closure device.

12. The sports equipment rack of claim 8 wherein the upper equipment support portion comprises a central post and a pair of horizontal support arms for supporting a set of shoulder pads.

13. The sports equipment rack of claim 8 wherein the frame is substantially comprised of PVC components.

14. The sports equipment rack of claim 8 wherein the ground contacting portion comprises a T-fitting and a plurality of leg members that extend outwardly from the T-fitting.

15. The sports equipment rack of claim 12 wherein the upper equipment support portion further comprises a helmet support member that extends from the central post.

16. A method of storing football equipment in preparation for laundering, the method comprising the steps of: a) reversibly securing a laundry bag to a laundry bag support portion of an equipment rack frame, the equipment rack frame having: a ground contacting portion; an upper equipment support portion; a laundry bag support portion comprising a generally rectangular bracket defining a central opening; b) supporting a set of shoulder pads upon a set of support arms of the upper equipment support portion; and c) disposing washable items within the laundry bag.

17. The method of claim 16 further comprising the step of supporting a helmet upon a helmet support member of the equipment rack support frame.

18. The method of claim 16 further comprising the steps of removing the laundry bag from the equipment support frame, tightening a closure device on the laundry bag, and washing the laundry bag.

19. The method of claim 16 further comprising the steps of removing washable items from the laundry bag and washing the washable items.

Description:

This application claims the priority of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/729,701 filed Oct. 24, 2005.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The invention relates generally to devices and methods used to display, transport and store sports equipment. In particular aspects, the invention relates to devices and methods for storage, display and drying of football, hockey and/or lacrosse uniforms and equipment.

2. Description of the Related Art

American football, lacrosse, hockey and similar sports require the use of bulky pads and helmets that the players must wear to protect themselves during play. In the case of football, the typical uniform includes a helmet, shoulder pads, as well as a jersey and pants, and socks. The uniform may also include other components, such as gloves, shin guards, hip and thigh pads, mouthguard and the like.

Children who play these games after school and on weekends tend to remove the remove the helmet and shoulder pads upon returning home and leave them scattered or in a heap on the floor. Often the pads and other equipment are sweaty and may be wet from rain. The pads are not able to completely dry out if left on the floor in this manner. Because the athletic equipment is bulky and oddly-shaped, it is not easily stored in conventional hanging racks or storage areas. Therefore, the various pads and other components of the uniform may become misplaced after use. In homes where there are multiple children playing football, for example, the components may become mixed up with one another, so that one child ends up with, for example, the shoulder pads of another child, leading to confusion the next time the children must get ready to play football. Those uniform components that must be laundered, i.e., the jersey, pants, and socks will often become mixed up during the washing and drying cycle, requiring them to be sorted out properly before they can be used again.

A number of support racks are known in the prior art for storage and display of football equipment. However, these racks do not provide an optimal solution to the problems of storage and organization for the equipment. U.S. Pat. No. 5,377,849, issued to Martin, for example, describes a sports equipment rack having a frame formed of tubular pieces. The rack frame can be used to hold and display a helmet and associated football equipment pads. The jersey and pants must be hung on a hanger behind the rack. With many children, however, it is unlikely that they will take the trouble to actually hang the garments on a hanger and hang them from the rack. Also, in order to launder these items, they must be first removed from the hangers, necessitating more work. Additionally, this style rack does not provide any storage area for smaller washable items, such as socks, gloves and the like.

Similar equipment racks are shown in U.S. Pat. No. 6,880,711, issued to Collier; U.S. Pat. No. 6,216,887, issued to Soo; U.S. Pat. No. 6,073,783, issued to Allman; and U.S. Pat. No. 5,862,924, issued to Dumont. Unfortunately, these racks have at least the same drawbacks as the Martin rack. The present invention is directed to overcoming the problems of the prior art.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides an improved device and method for the storage, drying and display of sports equipment, such as football equipment uniforms. In addition, the invention provides a means for temporarily storing the washable items associated with the individual uniform. In a preferred embodiment, the equipment rack includes a frame having a ground-contacting base portion and an upper equipment support portion for supporting a helmet, and shoulder pads. In addition, the frame includes a laundry bag support portion that is shaped and sized to receive and retain a laundry bag in a hanging relation proximate the frame. The laundry bag can be used to contain washable items related to an individual's sports uniform, including a jersey, pants, socks, gloves, and undergarments. The laundry bag preferably includes a drawstring for its opening that will allow it to be drawn to a closed configuration or removably secured to the laundry bag support portion of the frame.

The devices and methods of the present invention provide advantages over the prior art. In addition to the frame providing supporting portions for shoulder pads and a helmet, the frame also supports a removable laundry bag that may be readily removed from the frame along with the contents to be washed. The bag can then be laundered with its contents or the contents integrated into the household laundry. The equipment support rack makes it easy for mothers to manage the laundry and provides a convenient storage solution for the helmet and shoulder pads when traveling. The equipment storage rack has a simple and straightforward construction as well.

Although the storage rack of the present invention was conceived and is primarily directed to a solution for equipment storage and organization for households whose children play football, its application is not limited to this application. The storage rack may also be adapted for use in school locker rooms or professional sports venues.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

For detailed understanding of the invention, reference is made to the following detailed description of the preferred embodiments, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which reference characters designate like or similar elements throughout the several figures of the drawings.

FIG. 1 is an isometric view of an exemplary athletic equipment storage rack constructed in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a top view of the storage rack shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a side view of the storage rack shown in FIGS. 1 and 2.

FIG. 4 depicts the rack of FIGS. 1-3 now with laundry bag attached.

FIG. 5 depicts the rack of FIGS. 1-4 now with a helmet and shoulder pads is being retained thereupon.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

FIGS. 1-5 depict an exemplary equipment storage rack 10 that is constructed in accordance with the present invention. The storage rack 10 includes an upright frame 12 that is shown in FIGS. 1-3. In currently preferred embodiments, the frame 12 is fashioned from tubular PVC (polyvinyl chloride) pipe members and fittings, such as T-fittings and elbows, which are commercially available at hardware stores. PVC components may be easily cut to suitable lengths and secured to one another using pipe glue. Although construction of the frame from PVC components is currently preferred, it should be understood that the invention is not limited to such construction. If desired, the frame 12 may be constructed from pipe lengths of metal or another durable material.

The frame 12 includes a ground-contacting base portion 14 that is formed of a five-way T-fitting 16 and four leg members 18, 20, 22, 24 that extend outwardly from the T-fitting 16. End caps 26 are placed over the distal ends of each of the leg members 18, 20, 22, 24.

The base portion 14 supports a lower central post 28 which, in turn, is connected to a first T-fitting 30. An upper central post 32 extends upwardly from the T-fitting 30 and, at its upper end, is secured to a second T-fitting 34. Horizontal shoulder pad support arms 36 extend laterally outwardly from opposite sides of the second T-fitting 34. A helmet support member 38 extends vertically upwardly from the second T-fitting 34. Additional end caps 26 are secured to the distal ends of each of the support arms 36 and support member 38. The upper central post 32, T-fitting 30, support arms 36 and helmet support member 38 collectively form an upper support portion 39 for the frame 12.

The frame 12 also includes a laundry bag support portion, generally indicated at 40. The laundry bag support portion 40 is a rectangular, generally horizontally-disposed bracket that includes pipe segments 42 and 44, which extend laterally outwardly from the T-fitting 30. The pipe segments 42, 44 are secured via elbows 46, 48 to pipe segments 50, 52, respectively. The pipe segments 50, 52 are also connected by elbows 54, 56 to a pipe segment 58 to complete the rectangular bracket of the support portion 40. The support portion 40 defines an interior rectangular opening 60 and presents an upper side 62 and a lower underside 64 (see FIG. 3).

FIG. 4 illustrates the upper support portion 39 of the rack 10 now supporting a set of shoulder pads 66 and a helmet 68. The shoulder pads 66 are placed upon the horizontal support arms 36. The helmet 68 is placed upon the vertically-disposed support member 38.

FIG. 5 depicts the rack 10 now with a laundry bag 70 releasably secured to the laundry bag support portion 40 of the rack 10. The bag 70 may be fashioned of cloth or mesh fabric materials, of types generally known in the art, and may be, if desired, be colored or decorated with suitable team insignia, logos and the like. The bag 70 includes a closure device 72, such as a drawstring (pictured) or elastic band, for drawing the opening 74 of the bag 70 to a closed position. To affix the bag 70 to the support portion 40, the bag 70 is disposed within the rectangular opening 60 of the support portion 40. Portions of the opening 74 are then draped over the upper side 62 and down toward the lower underside 64 of the support portion 40. At this point, the closure device 72 is drawn toward closure below the underside 64 to cause the bag 70 to be secured onto the support portion 40. The bag 70 may be used to hold athletic pants, socks and other dirty washable items requiring washing. To remove the bag 70 from the rack 10, the closure device 72 is loosened and the bag 70 withdrawn from the opening 60 of the support portion 40. Items in the bag 70 may then be removed from the bag 70 and laundered along with the usual household laundry. Alternatively, the bag 70 itself may be fully closed off and laundered with the items inside. This is useful in homes where there are multiple children playing sports and it is desirable to keep the items of each child separate to prevent confusion. Additionally, the entire uniform and equipment, including helmet 68 and shoulder pads 66, may be placed into the bag 70 for transport when the child must dress away from home.

Those of skill in the art will recognize that numerous modifications and changes may be made to the exemplary designs and embodiments described herein and that the invention is limited only by the claims that follow and any equivalents thereof.