At barely twenty, Alan is a prodigy of unprecedented proportion, albeit in a discipline that is generally overlooked in popular culture. This is something Alan, who goes by Chicilin (pronounced Cheek-ee-leen), is all too aware of, but perfectly at peace with just the same. Something he might describe, sounding decades older than he is, as “conscious indifference.” What drives Alan isn’t the recognition or the money. He’s one of the rare ones who does it for the sheer joy of doing it. He’s part artist, part scientist, part Virgo, and entirely native New Yorker, growing up in Queens, the melting pot of the known universe.
SPIN: Alan, I wanna thank you again for taking a few minutes to talk to us today. We know you’re extremely busy both as a full-time Ball Scooper and also a student.
Alan: Listen, I just try and be a positive influence on the people that I know and interact with, right, and if shedding a little light on my peculiar job can make people smile or feel a little bit better about themselves, just for a second, then I feel like it was worth it.
SPIN: How would you describe what you do for a living?
Alan: I scoop balls. And it’s really not any more complicated than that. I mean, people ask me, is it an art or is it a science or is it both? This is what I say. Anybody can do it, but there’s a trick because you need to be completely dedicated to the customers and to the balls. I don’t know if you can understand that, but you have to focus on the right things, and then you can take it and be proud of it, because you’re making the customer smile and that makes everything better. I consider it abstract performance art.
SPIN: How long have you worked at SPIN?
Alan: My cousin Victor got me the job. He’s worked at SPIN for a long time. He really vouched for me and without him it never would have been possible. I waited for about 4 years, from when I was 14 till I started working here about 2 years ago on the day I turned 18. I was ready. I had been training for 4 solid years. I had become ambidextrous and developed the muscles required for phenomenal ball scooping technique.
SPIN: Who taught you your technique? Were you an apprentice to a master ball scooper?
Alan: I’m self-taught. I do have lightning fast reflects, and I’m versatile, and adaptable, and I have an attention to detail like no other. I have, like, a 7th sense, it’s true, it’s like a fighter’s sense.
SPIN: Is your job dangerous? Have you ever gotten into a bad situation?
Alan: No, never. I mean, little taps here and there, sure. That’s gonna happen. The first rule of business is to avoid getting hurt, both for me and the customers.
SPIN: Is it necessary to stay in peak physical condition to perform at the level you do?
Alan: Honestly, no. I use SPIN the club as my training and workout place, while on the job. I find time throughout the day to do pull ups and pushups and various other strength and flexibility exercises.
SPIN: Do you think your incredible talent as a ball scooper carry over into other disciplines and professions?
Alan: My scooping skills carry over, for sure, you know. It’s art, it’s poetry, it’s dance, you move in a certain way, and if you are in tune with your body, then you can call for your body to help when you need help. You know. It works for everything. But you need a routine. It takes discipline. And that can be hard.
SPIN: You’re so young and yet so accomplished, is there a lot more in store? What should we expect from you in addition to ball scooping?
Alan: Absolutely, I still have dreams. I wanna be a choreographer, maybe, and a phycologist. I might wanna make my own kids’ lounge, who knows. And I’ve far from mastered the art of ball scooping. That could take a lifetime.