The yo-yo pro

From his youth, to college and now passing on his hobby to his child, Tyler Abens loved the yo-yo.

Abens’ father first introduced him to the toy in his childhood, teaching him how to use it and a few tricks as well. His interest was rekindled as he attended Iowa State University when he gave yo-yos to several of his college friends as a small Christmas gifts. This was as yo-yos became popular in the mid-1990’s. When he returned from winter break, Abens said his friends had taken to the toys.

At first, Abens and his friends would play with the yo-yos during study breaks and share tricks and tips. They purchased more expensive yo-yos and got to more advanced tricks. The next step for them was to take their love of the yo-yo to the rest of campus.

“We thought, Iowa State has all these clubs, why don’t we start the ISU yo-yo club?” Abens said. “It kind of started as a joke but then we kept meeting and became an official club.”

More members came to the club. From there, the club went to tournaments and did programs for elementary and middle school students in the area. Abens said at the school programs, he played guitar while other members of the club backed him up with their yo-yos.

“While I sang a song, in the lyrics were a bunch of yo-yo tricks. It might start that I was walking my dog one day and then the other guys would walk the dog with their yo-yos,” Abens said. “The kids loved it and it was a fun time.”

Since moving to Webster City, Abens hasn’t been as active with his hobby. Now, it’s more something he’ll pick up around the house and play with. While he’s not in tournaments or practicing with others, he said using a yo-yo is like riding a bike for him now. He also has taught his son tricks and gives him pointers as he learns.

“My dad taught me and now I’m teaching my son,” Abens said. “It’s interesting how the yo-yo is something that so many generations have enjoyed.”

Abens is now planning to host a program on his yo-yo skills at the upcoming Seniors and Law Enforcement Together, SALT, meeting, scheduled for Thursday at 9 a.m. at Southfield Wellness Community in Webster City. Abens was invited after he demonstrated his yo-yo skills at a recent Rotary meeting. While he has a lot of practice to get in during the days before the meeting, Abens said he’s always happy to get back to the yo-yo.

“It takes you back to your childhood. It’s simple and fun and it can teach you a lot about life in that repetition and practice is how you develop good habits,” Abens said. “Doing a trick over and over is how you’re going to get good.”