Professor by day, yo-yo slinger the rest of the time!
Have you noticed many of those “everyday” kinds of people we meet often turn out to be not so everyday?
Luke Renner is such a man. I first met him when I took graphics design classes at a local college. I know him as a kind, helpful person who is highly skilled in all things related to design and video production, but during my senior year, I discovered Luke is more than just a teacher and head of the Digital Media Arts and Design program. He’s a champion yo-yo slinger and a spokesperson for the international Magic Yo-Yo Company. Luke has been performing for audiences since 1990. He reminds me of Clark Kent, the mild-mannered reporter by day, but Superman at other times.
Luke has developed an impressive résumé and a lot of recognition because of his yo-yo skills:
2017 5th Place 2A Two-Handed Tricks, US National Yo-Yo Contest – Chico, California
2015 7th Place 2A Two-Handed Tricks, US National Yo-Yo Contest – Los Angeles, California
2015 1st Place 2A Two-Handed Tricks, South Central Regional Yo-Yo Contest (Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas) – Denver, Colorado (2015 SRC Regional 2-Handed Champion)
2015 1st Place 2A Two-Handed Tricks, Colorado State Yo-Yo Contest – Boulder, Colorado (2015 Colorado 2-Handed Champion)
2014 1st Place Sport Trick Ladder Division, US National Yo-Yo Contest – Chico, California
2013 1st Place Sport Trick Ladder Division (1-handed tricks), World Yo-Yo Contest – Orlando, Florida
An Interview with a yo-yo champion
What attracted you to the yo-yo, and how many hours did you spend each day practicing to become as good as you are now?
Luke: I picked up the yo-yo in Junior High and never really put it down. The yo-yo is a toy that offers me possibilities for an unlimited number of tricks. Even with the tricks I know, I have the opportunity to perform them better. Yo-yo tricks allowed me to fit in with all sorts of groups growing up. A quick trick and a story that goes with the trick is a great way to meet people. Meeting National Yo-Yo Grand Master Dale Myrberg in 1990 is what has kept me string slinging. Dale and I have been friends for over thirty years, and he is the first professional yo-yo man I ever met. I tend to practice around one to one-and-a-half hours currently. With the National Yo-Yo Contest coming up in July, I’ll ramp up to around two hours of practice. The top of Head Canyon in Farmington is one of my favorite places to practice.
Where is the most unusual place you’ve yo-yoed?
Luke: This is a difficult question to answer. I have practiced yo-yo tricks in a lot of different parks: the bottom of Carlsbad Caverns, White Sands, Great Sand Dunes National Park, Sand Dunes, Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area (where Return of Jedi was filmed), Arches, rainforests, and more. I guess entertaining people on a plane stuck on the tarmac was unusual. Yo-yoing on a plane is difficult since the space is so confined. Another time, I yo-yoed on an older train in Santa Fe.
Wait … now I remember the most unusual place I’ve yo-yoed. I was in a ring of fire. I met an Italian Artist, Paulo Buggiani, and videographer Cinzi Sarto at the Farmington Museum. Paolo works with fire in much of his art. He was friends with Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, and many in the New York Art scene. Paolo and Cinzi used me as a subject for a video. The video consisted of various shots of me performing two-handed yo-yo tricks in a ring of fire. Paolo said to jump if the flames came too close.
If readers want to learn to yo-yo, what advice would you give them? What do they need to do to get started?
Luke: I recommend anyone who is interested buy a yo-yo today. The yo-yo doesn’t have to be very expensive to learn tricks. If you can find a yo-yo club, that is great! If not, I have over 100 yo-yo trick videos on YouTube.
Check out Luke’s 2023 Performance Schedule:
April 29 9:30 and 10:30 Dia de los Niños San Juan College ENLACE (Farmington, NM)
May 26, 27, 28, Riverfest 2023 Times TBA (Farmington, NM)
June 12 10am Eagle Nest Library Summer Reading Program (Eagle Nest, NM)
June 26 TBA Farmington Public Library Two Summer Reading Program Shows (Farmington, NM)
June 27 10:30am and 1 pm Durango Public Library Two Summer Reading Program Shows (Durango, CO)
June 22 10:00am Clifton Branch Library (Clifton, CO)
June 22 2:00PM Mesa County Libraries Central Library Central Library’s Community Room (Grand Junction, CO)
June 23 10:00am Orchard Mesa Branch Library (Grand Junction, CO)
June 23 2:00pm Fruita REC Center’s Community Room (Fruita, CO)
June 30 – July 2 competing at the 2023 National Yo-Yo Contest in Mesa, Arizona
See Luke in action.
Do you consider yourself to be an everyday person? Why? Why not?
If you are a yo-yoer, what got you interested in the sport?
If you missed other posts about everyday people who turned out to be more than average, click on the links to read more about them.
April Adamson Holthaus Finds a Treasure