Hi Sharon, could you briefly introduce yourself?
My name is Sharon Page, and I’ll turn 59 this month. My husband Kevin and I live in a village just outside Madison, Wisconsin. Madison is an amazing area, with a huge university and tons of theaters, restaurants, bike paths, lakes, three circus arts facilities and an award-winning waterski team that puts on free shows all summer.
I work from home doing marketing for a bioinformatics software company. Our two dogs and cat are retired now, but used to perform with me live on stage and compete in trick contests.
How did you start with yoyoing?
Three months ago, our village library advertised a free comedy yoyo performance by traveling performer Mark Hayward (1995 World 1A Champion). Though I had no particular interest in yoyo, I had the evening free and decided to check it out. Mark showed off some advanced tricks, but mainly did kid-friendly picture tricks like “Eiffel Tower” and “Darth Vader.”
The show was very entertaining, and I decided it would be fun to learn “Walk the Dog,” and “Rock the Baby.” When I got home, I ordered some plastic beginner yoyos online. And before Mark headed back out on tour, I took two lessons from him and learned a dozen basic tricks like “Sleeper” and “Brain Twister.”
What is your goal with yoyoing?
Once I finished my lessons with Mark, I wanted to keep going. I started watching YouTube trick videos and decided my new goal was “Skin the Gerbil.” I thought would take about 2 years to learn. There was one problem: YouTube had a lot of different trick tutorials, but I had no idea which ones were needed to get from “Brain Twister” to “Gerbil.”
Luckily a comment on a Facebook yoyo group pointed me to Skill Addicts. As soon as I saw the well-thought-out trick progression, it was love at first sight. With Ann Bubak’s expert tutorials, I started posting and passing about 10 new tricks a week. At the time of this interview, I’ve passed 114 tricks, including “Gerbil.”
My yoyo goal now is to keep learning, keep having fun, and maybe someday make it to the “top 100” of the Skill Addicts leaderboard.
How often do you practice?
The first two months, I practiced maybe 30-45 minutes a day. I’ve ramped that up to around 1.5 hours a day, and I practiced a record 5-hours yesterday.
Even with regular practice, yoyo progress can be slow. I’m a lifelong klutz, struggle to memorize “routines” of any type, and my progressive lens eyeglasses make it hard to keep the yoyo and strings in focus. Even after 3 months of daily practice, my catch rate for “Trapeze” is 40%, and “Double-or-Nothing” is 20%.
One reason I love Skill Addicts is because even if it takes an hour of reps in front of my phone, I can still eventually nail a new trick. There’s no stress because I can take all the time I need.
How do you learn new tricks
I log into Skill Addicts daily and learn new tricks from Ann Bubak and Skill Addicts members around the world that have posted custom tricks.
In addition, I scored by getting some in-person lessons from a pro-level competitor named Han Byrne-Cox.
Last month, I found a video of a college-age guy performing at a local open mic. I asked in the comments if he lived in the area, and Han invited me to meet him at the same open mic that very evening. After the performance, I asked if he could come to our house each week to teach me and Kevin, who had also recently joined Skill Addicts. Han was already planning to move across the country, but in the five weeks he was still in the area, we managed to pack in 7 private lessons, 3 trips to see him perform, and one visit to the Spinning Top and Yoyo Museum in Burlington, WI. We are planning to continue lessons with Han over Zoom after he moves.
Of course, for daily learning and community, I will continue to depend on Skill Addicts. By the way, I convinced Han to join Skill Addicts, and he is currently #46 on the leaderboard. Be sure to check out his custom trick tutorials!
What is your actual setup?
When I started out and was missing every trick, I figured I simply needed a better yoyo. I suspect this is a common belief for players of all levels! Even though I keep giving yoyos away, more keep showing up on my doorstep. I currently have 14 of them: both responsive and unresponsive.
With its 3-min. spin time and comfortable feel in the hand, the Duncan GTR-JS is by far my favorite throw. But to learn accuracy, I do most of my practicing with my undersized Duncan Haymaker OG. And to improve speed, I practice with some of my nice—but shorter spinning—throws like the iYoyo Iceberg and the Shutter Wide Angle. Kevin just gave me an early birthday present today—an Unparalleled Flash—and I can already tell that it’s going to be another favorite.
For string, depending on the type of yoyo and type of trick, I like Original Throw (normal and thick) and Yoyo String Lab “Plutonium” (which is extra-thick).
What do you enjoy the most about yoyoing?
The yoyo community is fantastic! I’ve met so many friendly, intelligent, and hard-working people through Skill Addicts. I love that a variety of price points makes the hobby accessible to people of all ages, locations, and economic levels. It’s also one of the few sports where gender does not confer any advantage.
A personal benefit is that yoyo gets me out of a chair. I’ve spent 23 years working from home at a computer and I used to spend most of my non-work time playing video games at the same computer or watching Netflix. Yoyo forces me to stand up and move. It is also great exercise for the brain.
You are coming to Czech Nationals next week, what are your expectations?
Six days ago, Vashek Kroutil posted on the Skill Addicts forum that the Czech Nationals were coming up in a couple of weeks and that a bunch of famous names would be there. He ended by asking: “Who’s coming?”
I jokingly asked if anybody had a spare sofa. But by the next day, I started thinking seriously about flying to Prague to watch the contest. I had some unused vacation time, and this would be a great excuse to explore Prague and glimpse some big names in the yoyo world. Admins Vashek and Gapča generously answered my questions and told me about cool places to explore both inside and outside the city. Best of all, I realized I could use my pills to buy Skill Addicts merch at SLUSNY without paying shipping!
As long as I was already going, I nervously decided to enter the event’s Trick Ladder division. “Finally,” I thought, “the world will see my 5 second sleeper in all its glory!” Unfortunately, I found out the event was only for ages 15 and under. The only remaining alternative was to enter the Women’s Open 1A Finals… with one week to prepare a routine. I realized this would be the equivalent of entering a somersault-capable toddler in the USA Gymnastics Championship. But I signed up anyway. Because… bucket list…
To anyone planning to attend: Unless you want to see a middle-aged lady with shaking hands trying for 120 seconds to catch that first “trapeze,” you might want to use that opportunity to visit the restroom or check out the cool throws in the vendor area…
Stage nerves aside, it will be awesome to see the beautiful city of Prague, hang out with fellow yoyo fans, and watch some of the world’s greatest yoyo players on stage. Thanks to the Česká Yoyo Asociace for putting on the event and I look forward to seeing everyone there!
Who is your favorite yoyo player and biggest inspiration?
I love everything from Brandon Vu and Gentry Stein and my all-time favorite yoyo video is the trick competition between Brandon and his dad featuring the lemon juice shots. Ann Bubak’s channel is another favorite.
After joining Skill Addicts, I was thrilled to see that Ann was the tutorial demonstrator. Not only is she spectacular at doing and explaining the tricks, but having a female demonstrator goes a long way to making the app (and the hobby as a whole) more welcoming to girls and women.
For performers, I was knocked down by Mir and Miri’s routines at the 2023 Worlds–who wasn’t?! But my favorite player to watch is Jonathan Sitanggang. I find his flowy style completely mesmerizing.
Do you have a tip for anyone who is about to start with yoyoing?
Join Skill Addicts. This is an amazing free resource for players at every level. Even if you don’t have time to learn a new trick every day, it’s fun to check in during the day to do peer judging or see what tricks your friends have posted that day.
My other advice is to start with a decent quality yoyo. It’s discouraging to spend hours trying to learn your first string tricks on a yoyo that has a 10 second spin time. A beginner is going to be hemorrhaging spin for the first few months. Get a quality yoyo so you can keep the yoyo on the string long enough to complete the trick.
What are your other hobbies apart from yoyoing?
Working from home and not having kids has allowed me to pursue dozens of hobbies over the years: from rock climbing and prairie restoration to motorcycling and 3D printing.
I spent 45 years competing in dog sports ranging from obedience to sheep herding to disc dog. A highlight was competing on the first two seasons of Turkey’s Got Talent with my dog, cat, and parrot, and making it to the semi-finals.
Not counting yoyo, my main hobbies at the moment are marathon kayak racing and bonsai.