YoYoJam’s Ian Johnson scored a great interview piece in the student paper for UCLA, where he’s attending school. Check out an excerpt below, and then click through for the full article.
The neon green yo-yo swings in front of Ian Johnson, looping left, right and in nearly every direction as his fingers play puppeteer.
With a flick of his wrist and a few fingers, the yo-yo flies off the string and high into the air. He whips the string backwards behind his back and then forward to effortlessly catch the yo-yo.
“It’s like, yo-yoing is a hobby,” says the first-year business economics student. “It’s an art form. It’s a sport, and it’s just, like, a simple toy.”
With the nontraditional sport, Johnson, the current off-string yo-yo national champion, has captivated thousands.
“Yo-yoing honestly has changed my life,” he said. “It’s taken me so many places, both literally and figuratively.”
Many basketball backboards are scattered around Johnson’s hometown of Hebron, Illinois. Each is a landmark bearing an inscription, something the near 1,200-person town is known for. Fittingly, one of them reads, “Ian Johnson: The Yo-yo Kid.”
The nickname has become his reputation; it’s been that way for so long his mom, Lois Johnson, aptly calls it “standard.”
At just 11 years old, Ian Johnson captured his first yo-yo contest win. In these competitions, participants of all ages choreograph three-minute yo-yo freestyle routines to music for judge’s evaluations.
After his first win, he began competing in any contest he could find within 400 miles, sometimes even farther.
Just three years later, a major yo-yo company, YoYoJam, sponsored him. By 16, Johnson appeared on America’s Got Talent, advancing all the way to the quarterfinals.
In between, he performed at local high school football games, town events and won smaller talent contests, impressing many along the way.
“He just kind of wows people wherever he goes,” said Matt Buetsch, one of Johnson’s best friends.
At first, Johnson was just a 10-year-old boy with a toy. But yo-yoing soon became more for him as he focused on hitting the next new trick and knocking down the next new challenge.
[button color=”light” link=”http://dailybruin.com/2014/06/05/uclas-yo-yo-kid-has-world-on-a-string/” target=”blank”]Read more about Ian Johnson at DailyBruin.com[/button]