It’s hard being the new kid at school. But, Tyler Brooks, a sixth grader a Houston Middle School, is the exception to that rule. Brand new to the Germantown area, their “house still in boxes” from a move, this young man is already making waves in class. Originally from the Chicago area, he is soon to be well known for a particularly unique skill set.
A yo-yo-ist, as described by his father, Brooks is well on the path to becoming a professional yo-yo thrower. A strange thought until you watch him “throw” (a term used as a verb often in the world of competitive yo-yo’s). Check out this video of him at a recent regional amateur competition.
And, don’t be surprised if your middle school student, if he/she shares classes with Brooks, becomes interested in the sport. Brooks recently filmed an episode of Spotlight on Excellence, which highlighted his talents and brought us into his classroom for a quick demonstration. “I’ll need your autograph,” yelled one of the peer spectators as he whirled his yo-yo almost magically around with a series of impressive tricks.
But, how does one discover this world of competitive yo-yo-ing? According to Bill Brooks, Tyler’s father, it began at summer camp a couple of years ago. “He met a kid who threw a trick yo-yo at camp, and it spiraled from there. Tyler bought a yo-yo and began watching YouTube videos to learn more tricks,” said his father. From there, both father and son had their eyes opened to what he described as a “whole world of yo-yo culture”. At a local game store they registered for a free event called Yo-Yo University. There, Tyler met Ben Condi, who is perennially regarded as one of the top five yo-yo-ists in the world. Condi recognized a talent in Tyler and began to instruct him. Together, they began going to competitions. The first year proved to be a whir of success, with eight competitions across the country in the bag, and at least three winning titles at Wisconsin, Minnesota, and the Midwest Regional (which includes 9 states). From the regionals, he lastly competed in Cleveland, Ohio at the World Competition. Normally a professional competition (corporately sponsored players), the competition hosts a Wild Card round in which amateurs have a chance to qualify. Tyler, as a sixth grader, placed 33rd in that competition which qualified him to compete on the mainstage in front of 2,000 attendees. Overall, he ended the competition in 59th place—but was competing with children from all over the world.Tyler continues to practice for at least an hour or more everyday and is continuing his training with his coach using FaceTime on a weekly basis.