By Anya Tikka
BARRYVILLE Kyle Derry picked up his dad’s old yo-yos in the basement three years ago and has not looked back.
Last week, the 18-year-old from Barryville competed in the 80th Yo-Yo World Championships in Orlando, Florida, placing 37th out of 139 in the 1A preliminaries. (1A means one yo-yo traditional). There were participants from 22 countries.
“I was hoping to make it past preliminaries, but I don’t think I’m going to make the final 10-15,” Kyle said before the competition. He explained that the championships are judged by how many times the yo-yo hits the string, by the overall difficulty level, technique, and show performance quality.
To participate in the World Championships, Kyle had to go through the ranks and place high enough in the seeding. The rules state, “in the USA, winners from state contests get seeded into regional contests that get seeded into the U.S. National yo-yo contest that then gets seeded into the World Yo-Yo Contest. This system works similarly in 28 different countries around the world.”
Earlier this year, Derry traveled to San Francisco, courtesy of Stringlab, a manufacturer of strings for yo-yos. The company had advertised for testers for one of their new strings on a yo-yo website and Kyle was ultimately chosen to participate in the Bay Area Classic Championships, where he stayed with the sponsor Matt and his wife Ruth Brown and their kids. Stringlab also partly sponsored his trip to Orlando.
“At five when I last tried the yo-yo, I couldn’t do it, “ Derry said. “This time, when I looked online to see if I could learn some new tricks, I was amazed at what I found videos, tutorials. I knew I wanted to learn it.
“It took me up to two years to get to where I am today. I practice a lot, every day, some days several hours. I often have the TV and computer going at the same time.”
The online community is an important tool for yo-yo devotees to get together to swap tips, find out about the competitions and learn about the latest yo yos.
Yo-yos have come a long way over the past 40 years. Today, they are high tech, made of exotic metals and use complex synthetic string. A high-end competition grade yo-yo can cost upwards of $400, but quality standard yo-yos are still available for under $20.00.
Kyle graduated from Eldred High School in June and will be attending SUNY Purchase in the fall to study visual arts.
“I like to draw things. I’ve been drawing ever since I was five - people, and landscapes,” said Derry, who drew the school building that was printed on the Eldred graduation program this year.
“I prefer drawing with the pencil, I think it helps with the imagination,” he concluded.