Story of a... Yo-Yo Champion
Alec Jones, 14, has sky-high tricks and even higher hopes of becoming the world’s best yo-yoer.
Photo by Roberto Gonzalez
“About a year ago I started yo-yoing for fun and decided I wanted to get really good. I watched a ton of YouTube videos of people doing tricks over and over again until I could do them myself.’’ Six months later, Alec entered his first tournament—the Florida State YoYo Contest—and won first place in the Sport Ladder division. Since then he has been in numerous professional competitions around the country.
When he isn’t competing, Alec enjoys “throwing” with fellow members of the Orlando YoYo Club, or demonstrating “Walking the Dog’’ and “Going Around the World” for his peers at the Central Florida Leadership Academy. “Luckily, the staff likes to watch me perform so I don’t get asked to put my yo-yo away … that often.” As a high school freshman, he manages to juggle homework and yo-yoing—sometimes simultaneously.
“I yo-yo around 3 to 4 hours a day for usually 30 minutes at a time. I’m always yo-yoing while I’m doing chores or watching TV, but if I’m really trying to practice, I get in the zone and focus. I once yo-yoed for 4 hours straight to get ready for a competition. I had a ton of calluses and string burns on my hand the next day.”
“Yo-yoing can definitely be dangerous at times. I have a scar above my right eye from when I was practicing a trick at home, and one time a player at a competition got hit in the face so hard by his yo-yo that it shook him up pretty bad. He stumbled around on the stage for a little bit, but then somehow managed to regain his composure and get back to his performance.”
“One of the divisions in a yo-yoing competition is a ‘Sport Ladder’ where each player must perform a ladder of 50 tricks in a row. The player who completes the ladder with the least amount of misses wins that division.’’
Experienced yo-yoers perform to music in the “Freestyle” division, where working the crowd is just as important as landing your tricks. “I try to pick an upbeat song that will get the crowd going, and fans love fast tricks like speed combos and flashy tricks like the Eli Hop—a trick that involves the yo-yo flying high in the air.”
“My main goal right now is to one day win the World Yo-Yo Contest. Sure, I would love to eventually have sponsors and be able to compete around the world, but I have no idea if I’ll turn yo-yoing into a lifelong career. I’m only a freshman so I have some time to figure it all out.”