Today is what would have been the 6 year mark of YoYoSkills and nearly the 1 year mark of YoYoSkills being on hiatus. I can’t tell you how much I have missed you all.
Last September I decided to hang up my proverbial Keyboard and Mouse. My wife and I started Foster Care certification classes to hopefully, increase our family. Leaving YoYoSkills was a move that was hard to make and I was humbled by the a significant amount of support you guys gave me. 5 years of my life and 5 years of dedication. As much as I miss it I still feel it was the right decision to make.
As today is the 1 year mark, I felt I owed you an update as to where I am in the progress of my life changes. I also wanted to take the opportunity to speak to the state of our community as I have observed it.
We finished our classes to get our Foster certification in October. It took several months to then get the house certified, and then the search began. My wife and I went to several interviews, saw several case files and talked to many, many social workers. Looking for a child to adopt is a surreal experience. You look at so many case files they start to blur together. Initially the Foster Agency has you create a “Target Range” with specifications when you are looking; Boy or Girl, Age range, Ethnicity, Siblings, Temperament, ect. In a way, it is like choosing a yo-yo but one million percent more serious. My wife and I already have a natural daughter so our target specifications were primarily based on what would be the healthiest for her. Rylie is a very strong kid, but she is just a kid after all and it was very important that we set her up for success. Being a big sister is no small feat. We wanted a boy, but were open to a girl if there was a good fit. We wanted to stay within a few years of the age of my daughter. We wanted a child that would fit well temperament wise in our family. The rest of it was not important to us. We looked so many case files, had so many interviews and saw so many kids in need. It was hard to not take them all. This process took so long that I found myself seeing kids in our target range in public and wondering if they were available to adopt!
In March, we were blessed with an interview that fell out of our requirements, but felt right in every way possible. They were brothers, aged 3 and 4. They were younger than we were looking for and both came with challenges. I will level with you, never in my life had I ever considered three children but these two stole my heart immediately and my wife felt the same way. After a month of visits we moved onto overnights, and then in May they moved in. For the last four months these two boys have transformed my heart and family and it honestly has felt like they were always part of my life. Before all of this, I never considered life with three kids and now I can never see my life without them.
These two boys bring my child count up to three, and one is still a toddler. They demand all my free time and I am more than willing to give it to them. At the end of my day when my wife and I collapse in exhaustion into an unmade bed with the mornings unfolded laundry, when my office job goes immediately to a fatherhood referee upon coming in the front door, when there is enough fighting among siblings that we could have a WWE ladder match in the family room and when I only get to throw a yo-yo for those sweet quiet 15 minutes after everything is all done before I have to get ready to do it all again in the morning, it is worth every single moment.
Though I don’t get much time any more to be part of the yo-yo world I do still manage to squeeze in participation where I can. MonkeyfingeR was kind enough to offer me a position on the team as a Brand Manager and I have been doing my best to help Ray keep the MonkeyfingeR brand focused and on track. This arrangement is great. MonkeyfingeR is an amazing indie brand and being a brand manager is similar to program management which I do for a living anyway. I also got to help design a new yo-yo, the Gelada 2 which is the best yo-yo I have every played. I am thrilled at the reception the MonkeyfingeR brand and the Gelada 2 has been getting and with throws like the Apex, Co-Lab, and Gelada 2 receiving positive feedback I get the same feeling I got when I ran YoYoSkills. I am extremely excited for the future of MonkeyfingeR and can’t wait to show you guys what we have coming up next. MonkeyfingeR has allowed me to take a step back from YoYoSkills but still be active in the community, and I can never repay Ray and the team for that chance.
That said, YoYoSkills is something I miss daily. I miss reviewing yoyos from around the world. I miss covering yo-yo news. I miss having time to watch hundreds of throw videos from players all over the world and highlighting them on the worlds largest yo-yo news website. While prepping this write-up, I was shocked to see that YoYoSkills STILL gets a few hundred views a day. I was expecting maybe dozens, but hundreds? I miss you guys too. Not a week has gone by without someone asking me to start up YoYoSkills again. As much as I want to I would not be able to dedicate the time to the website that you guys deserve. I have also been asked to hand it off to another party but honestly it would take the right person with the right track record and the right circumstances to make that happen. As it stands, I have not been presented anything that gives me confidence that YoYoSkills will continue to be run with my vision in mind.
On that, there is nothing that is keeping you from starting your own blog. When it comes right down to it, YoYoSkills is just a name, brand, and web domain. If I could grow it organically with zero web franchise experience, you can too.
This has been a banner year for yo-yo players. The evolution of tricks is absolutely amazing. The tricks I see online and from friends are absolutely amazing and we are not exactly talking about a huge amount of time. Zac Rubino, who first started getting into 4a seriously a few years ago is now considered to be one of the best in the world. Tessa Piccillo whom I campaigned in 2010 for a spot on the YoYojam team has captured the top female yo-yoer position. Gentry Stein, who I called out in 2009 as one of 5 players that NEEDED to be sponsored, is now the World Champion. These guys are not the only ones but I mention these three specifically because they are players who I have been cheering for and supported for years. They have grown into world level performers. Don’t get me wrong, I had ZERO to do with these three incredible players successes, but it is amazing to see three players whom I cheered and rooted for become so successful. I admire them as a fan, applaud them as a friend, and am very proud of them.
It is amazing what happens when you step back and take a look from a 10,000 foot view.
For the majority, the community is kind, welcoming, and inviting, but there are very vocal outliers that don’t seem to want to sport to grow, or only want to target a certain demographic with a certain style and attitude. While I know that this has existed forever my new focus as a brand manager seems to reveal it with more clarity. Instead of calling out names and incidents, I feel it would be more constructive to share my personal architecture of community success.
1: Build the next generation – YoYoing will grow and evolve as the community grows and evolves. Without a generation of players to replace those that are graduating to different roles in the community, the only result will be stale contentment.
2: Respect the work of the last generation – You are here because of them, whether you want to admit it or not.
3: Welcome new opinions and ideas – This industry can never be run by one person or one group of people successfully. It takes a constant flow of talent and ideas, just like it takes a constant flow of water and sunlight to grow a forest.
4: If you want something, start something – Want another YoYoskills? Start one. Want a club in your city? Start one. Want another place to buy yoyos? Start one. Want a yo-yo company to make a certain kind of throw? Start one. This community is run by the constant steam and power of people who started something, and it will continue when you start something also.
Lastly- YoYoing is for everyone, and everyone should be welcome to yo-yo – If you exclude someone or something, you prevent yourself from becoming smarter, stronger, and loving more. Much like how I never considered having three kids, now I can’t imagine my life without them.
– Chris “Dr. Yo-Yo” Allen