Tranton Stuns West With Yo-Yo Skills

By Nick Goldwyn

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Most of us think of yo-yoing as “walk the dog” and “around the world,” but junior Eric Tranton, former World Yo-Yo Champion, thinks of it as gravity defying, mind-bending, unexplainable feats of amazement that you can’t sum up into words, but I will try.

The yo-yo starts in Eric’s hand, and a split second later it’s at the ground, then back up, but not how you or I would play with a yo-yo.  Instead of letting it sail back gracefully into his hand, Eric jerks his wrist and the string flips, the yo-yo rotates and spins with the precision of a snowboarder in a half pipe. The string twists and turns and the yo-yo goes with it; still spinning, it flips and dives then jumps back up wildly, as if propelled by rockets. All that can be seen now are the cool designs made by the string flipping around Eric’s hand, and the yo-yo as it zooms by. The yo-yo juts out and then back in as if Eric is simultaneously throwing, then catching the yo-yo. It seems both out of control and in control at the same time, and then it’s back in Eric’s hand as if it had never left.

Eric didn’t come from a great heritage of yo-yo champions; his parents never competed when they were his age, and yet he is so good. But why? As it turns out, one day Eric just picked up a yo-yo. He watched a couple of videos online about how to get started and before he knew it, he was teaching himself new tricks every day. After a year of solid practice (about an hour every day), Eric entered his first competition.  He continued to enter state competitions and eventually became pretty good, good enough to be ranked 12th in his age group in the state.

There are hundreds of competitors per age group, so this was no small task, but it wasn’t enough for Eric.  Eric kept competing and eventually improved to the point where he was eighth in the entire state.  Then in 2009, Eric and his yo-yo team (yo-yo-ers have teams of anywhere from 12 to 25, who act as family to one another on the road) went to Worlds, which are held in Orlando, Florida at the Roza Plaza hotel. That year, Eric placed eighth IN THE WORLD.

Have you ever gone to some event, big or small, and didn’t finish first?  It seems somewhat dissatisfying, right?  That’s how Eric  felt on the plane ride home from Worlds. He had beaten people from all over the world (mostly from Asia because, as Eric put it, only Asians win Worlds, and Asians make up about 70% of the pro scene), but he hadn’t finished number one, so he enrolled himself in an online yo-yo contest (with the number-one spot on the line) and beat everyone. Eric beat 150 people in the online contest and took home $6,000 to put towards his college fund.

The coolest part of the contest?  It wasn’t even close.   In the last round, Eric scored a 100 out of a possible 100 and the next closest competitor only scored an 87. Sadly, the success did not carry over to this year’s Worlds competition: Eric dropped from first to 45th, but he is optimistic that he will do better next year.

Eric isn’t arrogant because he is one of the best yo-yoers in the world. Eric is as down to earth as can be and isn’t one sided at all.  In fact, Eric is good at almost everything he tries, and he tries a lot of things. Apart from yo-yoing, Eric (or as his friends call him, Tranton or Tranty) also plays the saxophone and trombone at school; he enjoys making videos like short films; and he trying his hand at dj-ing outside the classroom.

When I think of Eric, I don’t automatically think yo-yoing, but it is near the top of the list of the things that come to my mind when I hear his name.  And that’s because he’s so darned good at it.  Eric is so good at yo-yoing that he is now sponsored. Yes, that’s right; Eric Tranton is sponsored by a professional yo-yo company named Werrd Yo-yos. Werrd Yo-yos sends Eric more yo-yos than he knows what to do with (literally, they come box after box).  Because of all the extra yo-yos he gets, Eric has made a small museum of sorts in his house to showcase all of them.  Apart from Werrd, Eric doesn’t have any other sponsors, but still boxes of stuff show up at his house monthly, as if he had an army of them. Lately for Eric, the name of the game has been t-shirts. Up-and-coming t-shirt companies send him their shirts to try and get noticed.  And although he isn’t sponsored by them, Eric does receive free shoes from a small shoe store chain every so often.

Besides the sponsorships, shoe deals, and massive amounts of free stuff, other opportunities have presented themselves because of Eric’s yo-yoing. Eric now co-operates a website with a few of his yo-yo buddies that specializes in, what else, yo-yo auctioning.  And with his website up and running (it made $4,000 last month), Eric is now working on coming out with a yo-yo themed magazine.

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Eric paces back and forth impatiently; he obsessively washes his hands to make sure they aren’t sweaty, and most importantly he doesn’t (for once in his life) yo-yo. It is prep time, right before a competition, and Eric is nervous. He thinks about his routine, the moves, the flow, the music he chose (in competitive yo-yoing if there is profanity in your background music, it’s an instant disqualification). He thinks about being able to yo-yo upside down (cool), and going to Australia for two months to yo-yo with his team (cooler). He ponders what his friends are doing right now, when he will retire (probably in about three to four years), and why his parents only come along on trips when he goes to Worlds (because his mom likes Florida). Then he clears his mind, washes his hands one more time, and without thinking, takes the stage and yo-yos. Because it’s what Eric Tranton does best.

Check out video of Eric with his Yo-Yo in our Homepage Videos.