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Yo-yo Aficionados Make Plans, Seek Official Recognition for Offbeat Pursuit

By Dharma E. Betancourt, CONTRIBUTING WRITER

While a club devoted to yo-yos might at first glance seem a bit eclectic, the group might in fact be offering a welcome respite to Harvard undergraduates from the often unmanageable academic demands.

Yo-yoing, perceived by aficionados as the ultimate stress reliever, has drawn Harvard yo-yo lovers together in an effort to gain official University recognition.

Group founders Christopher M. Hodge '00, Lukas A. Bergstrom '00, who is a Crimson editor, and Jerald M. Korn '00--who met by sharing a suite last year--described how they became interested in yo-yoing after Hodge brought one home during a busy afternoon and they discovered its relaxing virtues--"better than yoga, even," Hodge said.

Korn indicated that it was also a fine way to release aggression.

"It comes from an ancient Polynesian hunting weapon," he said. "I guess you would just thwack the animal on the head."

The self-taught members said that they can now perform a variety of tricks, including many of the classics--sleeping yo-yo, walk the dog, over the top, around the world and shoot the moon.

They said that gaining official status will provide them with the opportunity to keep practicing and increasing their repertoire of tricks.

Members said they have high hopes for the group. Club status would facilitate the acquisition of funds for more yo-yos and for how-to manuals and instruction videos. However, they said the club's mission transcends such immediate gratification.

"Above all, we want to bring the joys of yo-yoing to the campus," Hodge said.

Upon gaining official club status, Hodge said he would like for the club to be able to bring guests such as the Smothers Brothers--yo-yo world champions--to campus. The club would also stage demonstrations and interactive performances in the "1,000 Balls" style, as produced by the Harvard Juggling club last year for the ARTS First weekend.

"We thought that if they can do 1,000 balls, we can surely do 2,000 yo-yos," Korn said.

According to the founding members, the juggling club had in fact invited the yo-yoers to join their efforts, but they felt obliged to decline the offer.

"Juggling is defined as the manipulation of objects, so in a sense yo-yos are part of it," Korn said. "However, we see yo-yoing as a separate entity in direct competition for members."

According to Korn, the group currently counts 15 undergraduates who have expressed a definite interest in joining them upon gaining official university recognition and many more who are considering yo-yoing.

"People oft see us wandering through the Yard with our yo-yo's and stop us to ask where we bought them, thinking back to their younger days as children with yo-yos," he said.

Besides the three founders, who describe themselves as "a triumvirate in eternal conflict," the group also has a historian and a public relations officer, David Levy '00. Levy rooms with Hodge and Korn in Adams House.

The three have six yo-yos in their room, mostly obtained from the Square shop Learningsmith, which sells various educational toys. Hodge expressed his satisfaction that the Coop has also begun yo-yo sales.

"The Harvard Coop, after its renovation, now carries a virtual plethora of yo-yos," he said.

Members are in the process of writing a constitution and said they are planning to attend the office hours of Dean of Students Archie C. Epps III tomorrow to determine future proceedings. The group is still searching for Faculty advisors.

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