Thomas Petreikis, 4, of Seminole, gives the yo-yo a try at the Seminole Community Library’s children program.
SEMINOLE – More than 50 youngsters had the world on a string at the Seminole Community Library’s last summer program event July 21.
That’s because Bob Baybrook, also known as Yo-Yo Bob, demonstrated tricks and lent each child a yo-yo to try his or her luck at the sport. Smiles abounded while strings were tugged and yo-yos flew in different directions.
Not many people may know it, Yo-Yo Bob said, but the yo-yo has got to be one of the world’s oldest toys, after the doll, that is. It is believed that the yo-yo originated in China. But the first historical mention of it was from Greece in 500 B.C.
Yo-Yo Bob knows a thing or two about the sport. He has taught thousands of children and adults about yo-yos. His own daughter, Jennifer Baybrook, is one of seven national Yo-Yo masters. She is the first person to hold both the national and world titles simultaneously. In 1998, Jennifer was the first female to hold the world championship title, and in 1997 she was the first female to earn the national championship.
“She left me in the dust,” said the proud father. “Jennifer has real girl power.”
She now attends the University of Hawaii, majoring in marketing, mostly paid for by her yo-yo demonstrations and talents. Her repertoire consists of more than 300 different tricks.
But for this community’s children, it was amateur hour. They learned about adjusting the yo-yo string, care of the toy and its history. Seems like the secret to learning to yo-yo successfully is practicing enough to be able to catch it easily. Then, tricks like walking the dog, giving a haircut and going around the world aren’t that difficult, Baybrook said.
He said that a yo-yo doesn’t have to cost a bundle to be good.
“My daughter won her first championship with an $8 yo-yo,” Baybrook said. “It doesn’t have to be fancy.”
“I really enjoy working with the kids at these kinds of programs,” Baybrook added.
He and his wife, Stephanie, moved to Florida in 2000. Long before that, Yo-Yo Bob was taught the sport by a Duncan and Cheerio demonstrator in Vermont. Many of his students have gone on to be champions of the sport, Baybrook added.
“The sport of yo-yoing is great for teaching eye-hand coordination and patience,” he said.