BY: SHAKIA COLLINS | STAFF WRITER
PLNU junior, Blaine Shelton, has caught the eyes of many students and faculty as he comes down Caf lane with his yo-yo in hand. Shelton transferred to PLNU this year as a computer science major with a focus on technical applications. But when Shelton was a sophomore in high school he took up yo-yoing and has been perfecting and competing in the hobby ever since.
The Point: What got you interested in yo-yoing?
Shelton: A buddy of mine was really into yo-yoing; he came to me and said “Hey you should give this a shot.” I went and bought a yo-yo, then started carrying it everywhere with me.
The Point: Was there ever anyone who helped you along in this hobby or that you looked up to?
Shelton: There was YouTube and I started reaching out to anyone and everyone that would talk to me. I actually got pretty lucky in that respect, about a year into it someone posted on one of the forums that I frequented, that he was hoping to start a yo-yo club in San Diego. So, I had the joy of learning from a really good yo-yoer, Jason Rodriquez. Teacher wise he was a very well rounded yo-yoer, there are five styles of yo-yoing and he could actually do all of them.
The Point: How often do you practice?
Shelton: I mean I’m kind of always yo-yoing, but competition practice I try to get at least 45 minutes a day of just putting my music on and doing a routine.
The Point: So you compete in yo-yo competitions, what does the entail?
Shelton: I compete about three to four times a year, but it’s all during a season. Most competitions are made up of one or two freestyles, a prelim and then a final. In the prelim it is all about scoring points, the prelim is generally shorter and you are trying to score more technical points than anyone else so you can make it to finals. Finals is a longer routine generally about two to three minutes, which is a long time on stage because each of these tricks only take five to six seconds.
The Point: So there are different styles of yo-yoing, can you explain those?
Shelton: There are five styles of yo-yoing, they are all A’s, one to five A. ‘1A’ is kind of what everyone thinks of yo-yoing; its one yo-yo on your dominant hand and you are doing string tricks. ‘2A’ is two yo-yos, more traditional, made of plastic and comes back to your hand when you pull. This is when you do a thing called loopingwhere you use the momentum of the yo-yo to carry itself in a loop. ‘3A’ is kind of 1A and 2A combined. You are using two yo-yos like that of 1A, but you are doing intricate twists. ‘4A’ is off string so the string is attached to your finger but the yo-yo is not attached to the string. Then ‘5A’ is counterweight where the yo-yo is not attached to your hand, but a little counterweight at the end.
The Point: What is your favorite style?
Shelton: Counterweight (5A) has kind of found me. I was doing 1A for a while and seven months into yo-yoing I got to a point where it wasn’t terribly interesting to me. There aren’t as many people doing it [counterweight] and I think its flashy and interesting.
The Point: There is always something new to learn, what are you currently working on?
Shelton: I’m working on looping which is working with two yo-yos that come back to your hand when you pull. Being a national competitor means you are always trying to come up with new stuff, but I hit ruts where I need to take a break for a couple weeks and try something else.
The Point: Can you tell us a little bit about the San Diego yo-yo club and how you got started with that? How do you join this club?
Shelton: Yeah I was one of the founding members so he [Jason Rodriquez] made a post and I was the first person to say, “Hey, I’d like to meet!” Eventually we had about nine people interested and about a year later he asked me to take over. You don’t have to have a yo-yo to join, join the Facebook group or show up, we meet outside the science center n Balboa Park.
The Point: How many yo-yos do you own? Do you have a favorite?
Shelton: I have over 30. What I use a lot is from this company out of Seattle, it’s called the Elysian. They make fantastic products and I’ve always been like let me get what I can. But really whatever is working I’ll use.
The Point: What is your favorite trick?
Shelton: There is a trick in counterweight called “Tangler” that I think is fun and flashy. It has so many variations that there are whole routines done with Tangler.
The Point: What do you hope to do with yo-yoing or is it just a hobby?
Shelton: I love to do it as a hobby; if it is never anything more than a hobby I will do it for the rest of my life. Certainly you can get sponsored for yo-yoing; certain companies will pay to take you to competitions and they will give you yo-yos to compete with and demonstrate their product.
Shelton: I think it is really important for people to find their ‘thing’. If you never make a cent at it as long as you live, you’ll still love it to death. Go out and find your hobby!