- Associated Press - Monday, October 12, 2015

COAL CENTER, Pa. (AP) - John Wolfe Jr.’s yo-yoing pursuits were inspired by videos he saw on his computer showing people performing amazing tricks with them to insane music at competitions.

“And I’m like, that’s the coolest thing ever. I really want to learn to do that,” Wolfe, 18, said from his Long Branch home.

While the senior at California Area High School also plays the video games of his generation, he has always been drawn to older toys such as pogo sticks that require physical skills, said his mother, Stacey Wolfe.

“It’s like he was from a different era,” she said. “Everything that was older he seemed to want to try. I feel happy knowing he is doing something he loves.”

He said he picked up his first yo-yo at about age 9 because he likes to seek out non-technological hobbies. “It keeps me in the basement,” he said.

It became obvious to him that he needed more advanced yo-yos after reading a book on how to perform tricks with them and watching more videos from competitions.

One of the funniest moments of his yo-yo adventures occurred when he first met Mark Hayward, a Pittsburgh artist and yo-yo performer whom he admired.

“He said, ‘Show me what you got,’” Wolfe said.

He said he didn’t have time to tune his yo-yo before giving it a spin for Hayward.

“It went down, whizzed and came back and hit me in the face,” he said.

Stacey Wolfe said she decided to pay Hayward $40 to give her son a one-hour lesson.

Hayward watched her son as he demonstrated his skills and said, “There’s nothing I can do for him. He already knows the basics,” she said.

It took some urging from his family, and especially the dedication of his father, John Wolfe Sr., to convince him to enter yo-yo competitions, Stacey said.

John Wolfe competed last month at the 2015 U.S. National Yo-Yo Contest in Redondo Beach, Calif., and placed second in his division. He placed 10th in August at the 2015 World Yo-Yo Contest in Tokyo, a country where people are serious about yo-yos. He also took second place in November at a competition in Las Vegas.

His yo-yos cost between $40 and $130 and some of them are made from lightweight titanium.

He prefers to compete in a class where people use a yo-yo controlled by a small ball on the string at the opposite end, rather than having the string attached to a finger.

“These tricks are all mine,” he said proudly.

“I have met people and made new friends all over the world,” John continued. “We all share this hobby. I see it as a form of self-expression, a performance art.”

He’s even been invited to appear on “America’s Got Talent,” a request that he has turned down because he believes the show tries to humiliate certain performers.

Leigh Ann Folmar, principal at Wolfe’s high school, said he is humble to the point that she had no idea he was competing in a national contest until she heard about it “through the grapevine.”

“He never let on .,” Folmar said.

Folmar said the school made a banner in his honor to welcome him back to school after he went to Las Vegas, and that she planned to ask him to perform for students at the next pep rally.

“He’s never without a yo-yo,” Folmar said.

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Online: https://bit.ly/1L7HgWH

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Information from: Observer-Reporter, https://www.observer-reporter.com


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