IF HEARING the word yo-yo makes you think of the cellist, dieting, or maybe a Bollywood rapper (Yo Yo Honey Singh - he's really big in India), then you didn't grow up into the 1950s and '60s, when the original ambassadors of fun toured the country.
Back then, the traveling "Duncan Yo-Yo Man" would appear at the local five-and-dime store, Cub Scout pack, or even your middle school auditorium, with a box of 50-cent toys-on-a-string and show you how to rock the baby, shoot the moon, or walk the dog.
But if you are part of today's yo-yo world, then you know Tyler Severance. At 24, he is a yo-yo legend. You've watched his videos, trying to learn his tricks. You saw him win both the national and world yo-yo championships before he could drive. You know he was offered a sponsorship - and a full-time job - with a major yo-yo manufacturer while still in high school.
Last year, after six years of working and touring for the corporate yo-yo firm, he quit his job as their American production manager in Arizona and moved to South Jersey (he grew up in Delaware) to start his own company.
In the year since setting up Recess International, making aluminum and bi-metal yo-yos, he has assembled a team of talented young yo-yo players to compete and help with designs, and is already nearly on the same level as his old company. But most importantly, he is doing what he likes best - spreading the word. His focus is on getting new players involved. He does demonstrations all over the country, and mentors kids in after-school yo-yo clubs in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
"Yo-yos are a fun toy," he says. "I want my company to stick to our values of having fun." His company's name suggests "taking a break, an alternative activity, when you can just cut loose. Players throughout their life can treat yo-yos as a recess for their regular life."