Yo, whim lands Alpine resident in top three

Richard Allen (right) with the second place winner and part-owner of Yo-YoFactory Ben McPhee.

Alpine resident Richard Allen is officially a champion yoyo thrower after taking third in the 2022 National YoYo League competition held in Mesa, Arizona on June 24. With a routine set to the song Gangnam Style, Allen played to the crowd’s cheers with tricks and light choreography designed to show off his moves.

Allen, who said he heard a competition was happening in Arizona, decided to take a trip in his RV to visit a friend who lives near Mesa and “go visit him and watch some yo-yos” with nothing but a vacation in mind.

“Then, I got wind that there was an over-40 division and I started working on my two-minute routine to the song Gangnam Style,” Allen said.

Although he “didn’t really feel I had it down pat and was super nervous performing on stage,” Allen said he got into “the zone” and only made a couple mistakes. He never planned on being a winner, but saw the trip as a fun summer experience with his wife and friends.

“I had played with yo-yos as a young kid a little bit, really not that much. Then in the mid ‘90s there was a yo-yo boom that was started by the internet. I was into it for about a year, then dropped it until COVID hit. That was the start of another yo-yo boom,” Allen said.

Every 30 years or so, he said, there is a yo-yo boom in pop culture, including one in the Great Depression of the 1930s and another in the early 1960s prompted by television advertising.

The yo-yo itself actually dates back to ancient Greece— it can be seen on vase paintings referencing children ritualistically offering gifts to deities, now housed at the National Museum of Athens.

Allen has his own yo-yo ritual: he practices about half an hour each day while watching the news to keep him from yelling at the television.

While he didn’t learn any new tricks for the national competition, Allen is already considering learning a few new tricks for next year’s national competition now that he has more time to prepare.

“They didn’t have one for two years and it was nice to feel some of the world champions there and meet some of the people in the community. I met some of the world champions and had them sign yo-yos,” Allen said.

Until then, he’s also focusing on growing the yo-yo club run by Kiwanis of Alpine.

“Kiwanis sponsors the kids with a quality yo-yo and we meet on the third Sunday of every month at 10:30 then we have a barbecue,” Allen said.

The yo-yo is “a positive activity that children can carry in their pocket that doesn’t need batteries,” Allen said and is rumored to also prevent overeating, anxiety, and nervousness as little hands are kept busy trying to master new tricks.

“They’re so simple but they develop hand-eye coordination and promote bilateral integration which is the ability to use both sides of your body together and midline function to reach across the middle of your body. They build hand and finger strength, they improve spatial awareness, they teach determination when you’re trying to land a new trick,” Allen said.

No word yet on whether any Alpine kids will be headed to Arizona next year.

Yo, whim lands Alpine resident in top three

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