Fall/Winter 2020 /The New (Ab)Normal/

How to Become an International Yo-Yo Star

Through fire and pandemic, Nathan Dailey ’23 persists in his quest to be the world’s best artist with a yo-yo. To understand the challenges he’s faced, you have to put yourself in his shoes.

Nathan Dailey ’231. Grow up in Paradise. Before it was largely destroyed by the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in state history, Paradise, California, was a town steeped in the yo-yo culture of nearby Chico, home of the National Yo-Yo Museum.

2. Like kids everywhere, try your hand at spinning two disks attached to an axle on a string, but take it further. “I just picked it up and learned from people and from YouTube videos. It went from there.”

3. Leave “Walk the Dog” in your dust. Discover the world of hops, mounts, slacks and horizontal tricks. Once you know the standards, create your own. Practice. Practice some more.

4. Start entering contests. “My first time competing, I was 12, and I’ve been doing it for probably eight years now. I definitely grew up with it.”

5. Break through. Finish third in the 2015 National Yo-Yo Contest at just 14, becoming one of the youngest top-three finishers ever in the premier 1-A division.

6. Snap a string onstage during the 2017 National Yo-Yo Contest. Recover. Learn about letting go and moving on.

7. With string-blurring, mind-bending tricks, have an awesome 2018 season, winning the Bay Area Classic, the Pacific Northwest Regional and grabbing third at nationals and sixth in the World Yo-Yo Contest.

8. Get a sponsorship deal and your own custom yo-yo: The “ND” Nate Dailey signature model by Yo-Yo Factory features two concave aluminum disks and retails for $49.95.

9. Endure the fire and the traumatizing loss of your family’s home. Like a yo-yo, climb back up the string and give an uplifting address as one of Paradise High’s valedictorians.

10. Become a showman and create a style of your own after years of watching world champion Gentry Stein of Chico. Finish fourth in the 2019 World Yo-Yo Contest before heading to Pomona College for your freshman year.