Steve Harvey sees local student’s yo-yo skills

Feb 09, 2018
  • By Erica Harrah
  • Contributing Writer
Cedarville sophomore Philip White shows off the yo-yo skills that made him a three-time national champion. On Jan. 16 White appeared on Steve Harvey’s nationally syndicated show where he battled two fellow yo-yo champs. CONTRIBUTED

Cedarville University sophomore and yo-yo national champ, Philip White recently got the opportunity to show off his skills on national television.

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On Jan. 16 White appeared Steve Harvey’s nationally syndicated show where he faced-off with two fellow champion yo-yoers during the “Battle Me on Steve,” segment of the show.

A computer science major and native of Schenectady, N.Y., White currently holds the National Yo-yo Contest top spot for off string yo-yo (division 4A).

White said he was presented with the opportunity to be on the show when a member of the production crew reached out to him in December. “The show paid for me to fly out to California and stay in the Hilton in Hollywood. It was very cool to see the behind the scenes process of making a TV show.”

At the end of the “Battle Me” segment White received an unexpected bonus. When he proved to be the audience favorite, Harvey presented him with a new commuter scooter. “Winning the commuter scooter at the end was a surprise since they hadn’t told us about it beforehand.”

White’s fascination with the yo-yo began while watching YouTube videos with his younger brother. “My younger brother Stuart is a big inspiration for me to become better. He is very good in his own right, although he hasn’t had the same contest success that I’ve had. In some types of yo-yoing he is better than I am. The friendly family competition motivates me to become as skillful as possible,” said White.

In addition to his brother, White said he gained inspiration from others who have mastered the skill of yo-yoing. He specifically mentioned Andre Boulay, who created the YouTube tutorials that he learned from during his first few years of yo-yoing. “He is still an active member of the yo-yo community. He runs, a large yo-yo retailer, and he runs a couple local contests in the northeast,” said White.

Even though he now has a national television appearance to his credit, White says that winning his first national title in 2015 was still his best experience as a yo-yoer. “The 2015 National Yo-yo Contest was the most exciting contest moment for me. I was competing against most of the yo-yoers that I had looked up to at the beginning of my yo-yoing. Any one of the top three contestants could have won, but the judges chose me that day and I became the national champion for the first time.”

White went on to win two more national championships after his first victory in 2015 and will once again have the opportunity to defend his title at the 2018 National Yo-yo Contest which is scheduled for June 29-July 1, at the Athenaeum Theater in Chicago, .

When asked what advice he would give to those who want to take up yo-yoing, White said, “Practice, practice, practice. Yo-yoing is a skill that nearly anyone can pick up — it just takes dedication. Start by enjoying the hobby in itself. Yo-yoing is more than just competitions. If you focus solely on that aspect, you may get discouraged by initial failure.”