The specific origin of the toy known as the yo-yo is uncertain. One reference point is at the National Museum in Athens, Greece. On display inside the museum are several vases dating back to 500 BC, depicting young Greeks playing with discs tethered to a cord.
Nearly two thousand years after that, in 1927 to be exact, a man from the Philippines by the name of Pedro Flores began carving and selling a toy at a hotel in California where he worked. By 1929, the Flores Yo-Yo Corporation had two factories in Los Angeles, and the yo-yo craze began sweeping the nation, with the toy's interest reaching its peak in the 1950s and 1960s.
Like most fads, the yo-yo is making a comeback, and a man from Holland, Michigan is a doing all he can to make sure that happens.
Connor Scholten became interested in the yo-yo when he was 7 years old.
"I was watching Saturday morning cartoons and I decided to change the channel," said Scholten, who is a graduate of Holland Christian High School. "I started watching the 1997 National Yo-Yo Competition, and was absolutely blown away."
A few weeks later, Connor begged his mother for a yo-yo and a trick book. He got them and began training himself.
Over the course of the past two decades, he's learned just about every trick there is, as well as creating some new ones of his own.
When the internet started to take shape in the late 90s, that's when the yo-yo subculture truly started to form because interested people from all over the world were able to connect on forums and share tricks," said Scholten. "Now, I can pull up my phone and get on Instagram and find hashtags of 50 new tricks that have been posted today."
In October 2017, Connor traveled to Chico, California where the National Yo-Yo Championship was being held. He'd qualified and participated in this event before, but never won.
"One of my goals in life was to become a national champion at yo-yo," said Scholten.
Connor competed in the 2A category, which is the freestyle division. He was judged during a performance that lasted three minutes.
He came away as a national champion -- at the event he watched on television 20 years prior, that started his love for the yo-yo.
"All those years of practice finally paid off," said Scholten. "It came to a point for me where I couldn't pursue any other passions in life until I became a national champion at the yo-yo, and that finally happened."
Connor says he isn't sure whether he'll defend his national championship in 2018 or not, but in the meantime, he's found another passion - teaching yo-yo.
"Teaching ended up growing more and more on me," added Scholten. "I want to see yo-yo become more mainstream than it was 50-60 years ago, and helping the next generation learn the tricks, and how to connect within the worldwide subculture, will definitely do that."
If you're interested in learning the yo-yo, MACKite store (106 Washington Ave.) in Grand Haven, Michigan hosts a "Skill Toy Club" every Monday and Thursday evening from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
The club is free, and people of all ages attend.
Occasionally, Connor Scholten shows up at the club and gives personal lessons to the attendees.
For more information, call MACKite at 616-846-7501.
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