Freelance Writer
Wake Me Up Before You Yo-Yo
10.19.06 | No Comments

In Worcester Magazine, March, 2005

If you can manage “The Sleeper,” that will ultimately lead to bigger and better tricks. Beginners master that, along with stuff called the “UFO,” “Rock The Baby,” “The Jamaican Flag” and “Creeper.” If you’ve got those down, it’s time for dazzlers like the “Ripcord,” “Drop in the Bucket” and “Atomic Bomb.” The advanced can handle the “Plastic Whip” or the “Leg Wrap Trap,” but an expert can show him up with “Seasick.”

It’s all part of the climb to greatness in the world of yo-yoing.

And there is a growing segment of people, especially kids, intent on climbing this ladder.

There are teachers who use the yo-yo as an instrument of scientific instruction, but for people like Brian Cosky, it’s just cool. The kid is always pulling tricks in the hallways and at his desk. (Jeepers, that sounded a little like prostitution if you just tuned in.) He considers himself a freestyler, and says you can literally chart the ebb and flow in yo-yo popularity. Every six years or so, it gets really hot again, and he says it’s warming up right now.

Andre Boulay, is currently ranked 10th in the state and among the top 30 in the world. He teaches at A2Z Science and Learning Store, directs Team YoYoJam, and runs

, which hosts the Massachusetts State Championship Yo-Yo Competition. “What the kids speak of when they talk about these big yo-yo booms is what they read online from other people, or hear other people talk about,” says Boulay. “Yo-yoing tends to go in big booms because they will be heavily advertised and pushed one year, causing every kid to get one, and quickly dumped back off the market, which is why it goes in these big so-called booms.” Recently, Hasbro has pumped a lot of dough into promotion in the US through two companies: Yomega and YoYoFactory. It’s become a big year so far.

Cosky is considered to be at the “advanced” level in his division. At Boulay’s competition in February in Amherst, he came in sixth in the Single A Freestyle category, which means he’s been doing string tricks at that level for at least a year. He got into the sport when he was 13. There were some yo-yos called Astrojacks back then, and the commercial was on a lot on Nickelodeon. “I got one of those, and they were fun,” says Cosky. “And they have online forums and stuff. I knew a kid who was into yo-yos and he’d show me some good sites for learning tricks. I got good a real good one about two years ago. It took off from there.”

Now, Cosky’s a Millbury High School student and has a suitcase full of yo-yos. He estimates that he’s got more than 40 trick yo-yos, and 36 of those fits in his case (his “select few.”)

@DROPCAP:Alicia “YoYo Mama” Ameur is a character. She’s one of those charismatic, oddball moms who truly is a buddy to kids, and not afraid to get down in the mud with them. She homeschools her two kids, who are 12 and 9. Always trying to expose them to new culture and activities, she took them for a drive out to A2Z Science and Learning Store, where Boulay works.

@BODY:“My kids instantly fell in love,” says Ameur. “After that, I had so many kids who wanted to come with me that I didn’t have room in my minivan.”

So she responded by learning the yo-yo herself, and so did her kids, who are 12 and 9. She started by giving lessons in Elm Park in this past summer and then weekly outside of a local D’Angelo’s, it’s snowballed. “It just kept growing and growing,” says Ameur. “I haven’t had to work hard. It took me by surprise, and now I’m YoYo Mama. If you practice and are interested you can do world class tricks within a year.”

On March 1, Ameur opened a little “shop,” so to speak, devoted to yo-yos. In a small room that looks more like a church office than a store, she sells yo-yos and holds classes at 61 Harvard St. (it’s that building located in the Highland Street Municipal Parking Lot). Ameur and her cast of yo-yoers, called the Spinheads, are for hire for birthday parties, too. There are various packages available that include everything from a show to a lesson to a yo-yo cake. Her dream is to expand the shop to a learning center similar to A2Z.

Worcester Magazine

hung with Ameur and a few of her Spinheads last week at one of her classes. It was in the midst of the 50th massive snowstorm that we’ve had this season, so there were only six at the class: regulars Nick Lewis, Dylan O’Sullivan, Kieran O’Sullivan, Jillian Gartner, Brahm Gartner and Ameur’s son, Josef. Their abilities ranged, but they all seemed to wear Converse All-Stars.

“I’m still traveling,” says Ameur. “I do go to other people’s homes, doing birthday parties there or in restaurants. But I wanted to give people the option of where to go. With yo-yos, you need a good amount of space. People have valuables. You could take out a TV. I’ve hit myself, and once I hit someone’s elbow in line at Six Flags. She forgave me, but it does hurt.”

Her classes are $10 for two hours, and she always has kids with her that help her teach. The kids, in fact, can teach 40 tricks beyond what she knows so far. “There will be a huge surge of interest,” says Ameur. “I got in at the right time. It’s just another alternative for kids. Yo-yoing is competitive, but not in a competitive way, if that makes any sense. It’s a whole social event when people get together to yo-yo.”

Because, really, life is more like a yo-yo than a box of chocolates. We spend it letting things go, trying to make certain things come back, and performing tricks along the way.

For more information, visit, or call 508-753-3482.

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