by Sarah Nelson
Q: Why yo-yos?
A: I had a friend when I was about 12 and we were both homeschooled with tons of free time. And I was fascinated that it was something different. I wasn’t athletically inclined or anything like that and so I was like, “Okay, I kind of enjoy the hand-eye coordination challenge that this presents.” It took a while to learn, I had the time so I was like, “Why not?”
Q: Is there a yo-yo community? Are you involved?
A: There is, actually worldwide. I used to be more involved than I am now but yes, more or less. In Minnesota, the yo-yo community is probably only around 50 people maybe. Worldwide it is multiple thousands. There are different events and clubs that meet. Between the time when I was 12 and 16 I went to a club that met twice a month at a coffee shop in Hopkins. We actually called it the “College for the Easily Amused.”
Q: Do these regional and worldwide organizations have a name?
A: The one that comes to mind would be the National Yo-Yo League here in the states. Other than that, various people put on contests and all that, and we have those at basically every level: State, Regional, National, Worlds.
Q: What do these clubs look like?
A: Usually it is anywhere from 5-20ish people getting together and we usually bring our collections and exchange tricks, even exchange yo-yos. We would do trades, buy/sell and talk about what was going on in the community-who was winning the contests, who we thought would end up in which slot and stuff like that.
Q: I’m curious, are there famous yo-yo-ers?
A: There are famous yo-yo-ers, definitely. Right now the world champion is Zach Gormley, he’s actually from Canada. He’s maybe 17.
Q: What makes him a World Champion?
A: He won the world yo-yo contest. So basically when you enter a yo-yo contest you usually put together a routine to music and it’s about one to three minutes long depending on what contest you’re at. So his was three minutes. Basically, you become the best by coming up with things that are unique, things that are really hard tricks to pull off but different than what other people are doing.
Q: How much did you practice when you were younger?
A: It honestly ranged anywhere from one to six hours a day.
Q: Do you collect/buy yo-yos?
A: I used to. Not so much anymore. Right now I’m actually trying to downsize.
Q: Is there a link between your love for yo-yos and your physics major?
A: At the time I wouldn’t have made any connections but now thinking about it I definitely enjoy the mechanics of yo-yos like how they work physically. That does interest me because you can talk about physics regarding yo-yos. You can talk about their rotational inertia and their weight distribution. Even their material science.
Q: Do you have any memorable moments from yo-yoing?
A: I qualified for Nationals one year, kind of by default and that ruins the story but I came in third place at Midwest Regionals in 2012 or 2013. That was pretty memorable.
Q: Why by default?
A: It was by default because of the particular style of yo-yoing. They didn’t normally hold a division for. You had to have at least five people to hold the division and they hadn’t held the division in ten years. And I pushed forward and had a division but then a player dropped out, the people that got first and second weren’t from our region so they didn’t qualify for Nationals, I came third and I was the only one in the top three that was actually in the Midwest.
Q: So you went to Nationals?
A: I did not, unfortunately. It’s in the fall and it conflicted with school.
Q: What’s the 888?
A: The 888 is a high end yo-yo actually by a company called Yo-yo Factory and it’s made out of aluminum. It’s machined to pretty high standards. It’s smaller in diameter but it’s kind of a wide yo-yo as far as yo-yos go.
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