Yo-yo phenom

Spencer Nelson

Photo By vic cantu

Chico brings the top yo-yo players in the U.S. here every year for the National Yo-Yo Championships. Now we have a local, Spencer Nelson, who is fast becoming one of them—and he’s been playing only a year! The humble 8-year-old’s amazing YouTube video: “My Name is Spencer—I am 8” (at www.youtube.com/watch?v=bwwMDoLv5og) has nearly 20,000 views after only two months, and has attracted calls to appear on national TV from The Ellen DeGeneres Show and The Wendy Williams Show. His father, Tyler Nelson, is extremely proud of his son, who he thinks has a chance to be the next world champ.

How did you get so good so fast?

God blessed me, and I practice a lot when I’m with my friends and after school. Plus I get ideas from watching tricks on YouTube.

What kind of recognition have you received?

The Ellen DeGeneres Show called us two weeks ago, but they haven’t called back. The Wendy Williams Show also called—if they pay for my flight to New York I’ll go. I was on the local KHSL news last summer, and a month ago the Chico Enterprise-Record did an article with a photo of me—but they messed up a lot.

Do your friends and classmates all think you’re great?

Not really. Only some like yo-yos, and none of them are allowed to watch YouTube.

What kind of yo-yo do you use?

I have 15 or 20, but my favorite is this butterfly-shaped, aluminum one with a bearing inside made by my sponsor, the Chico Yo-Yo Co. They’re also going to make a signature yo-yo for me. I’m calling it “The Half Nelson” because Nelson is my last name and the half nelson is a wrestling move.

It seems like you’re better than lots of kids much older than you.

Well, I compete against all ages and I took 14th place in the Chico city yo-yo competition last summer. I also got 54th place in the California State competition last March. Plus I teach yo-yo to people as old as 20 at the Bird In Hand store downtown. I’m the youngest teacher they’ve ever had.

What other things do you like to do?

I like to go to church at the Calvary Chapel. I also skateboard pretty good.

What’s next for you?

I’ll be going to Seattle for the Pacific Northwest Regionals in February and the California State Championship in Sacramento next March. I’ll also go to the Bay Area Classic in June. I’d love to go to the World Championships in Florida. If I do I’ll see lots of my yo-yo friends there.