Knox twirls state Yo-Yo title

Friday, September 28, 2012
Jeffrey Knox spins a trick at the state competition at Opry Mills Mall in Nashville. (Photo submitted)

Forrest High School sophomore Jeffrey Knox turned a serious illness into a dream come true when he recently captured the 2012 Tennessee State Yo-Yo championship at Opry Mills Mall in Nashville.

"It's pretty awesome, I didn't think I was going to win," said Knox. "It was a shock when they called my name for being number one."

Around November 2010, Knox contracted the swine flu and as boredom set in at home, Knox was surfing the web when he stumbled upon yo-yoing on You Tube and by Christmas, he had a Dark Magic 2 yo-yo.

2012 State Yo-Yoing champion Jeffrey Knox and his mom Heather Knox have travelled far and wide to compete in Yo-Yo competitions. (Photo by Anthony S. Puca)

"When my husband and I pulled it from the box and threw it down, we were mad," said his mother Heather Knox. "It didn't come back up like the yoyo's we knew when we were kids. Oh well, we figured after Christmas we would send it back."

Lo and behold, on Christmas morning when the novice yo-yoer opened it and spun it down, he performed a "bind" and up it came.

Knox's parents did not send the yo-yo back and from there, he was off and spinning.

"Every day and every night from them on, all we heard was the zinging noise of the yo-yo," said Heather Knox.

After all the endless days and nights of practicing, Knox entered his first competition at Rocket Town in Nashville in November of 2011 and he finished in 3rd place in the novice division.

Knox has attended yoyo meets every third Saturday of every month in Nashville where from five to 10 or so fellow yoyo-ers, varying in age, hone their skills.

A huge break for the youngster came by chance when Jeffrey and his mom and some of co-competitors were traveling back from a trip to Colorado in June.

While traveling through Kansas, Jeffrey posted a message on "Facebook" and Blake Freeman, co-owner of the Kansas based Square Wheels Yo-Yo Company saw his post and asked to meet with him and his Mom.

The meeting took place at 10:00 p.m. at Denny's where Freeman asked Jeffrey to join the Square Wheels team.

"When they offered me the sponsorship I was really excited and shocked," said Knox. "That was one of my dreams and I thought it would never happen to be sponsored by a company. That and winning the state title two weeks ago were the defining moments when I knew I was really that good."

At this year's competition, Knox's goal was to place in the Top 10; instead, he won the title and placed fifth nationally.

"We are very proud of Jeffrey," said Heather Knox. "People think this is just a toy, but it is a whole community of awesome people from around the world."

Knox's plans include more events in Tennessee to defend his state title, and expand his goals to become a national and world champion.

"I am hoping this year to go to a couple of more competitions like the southeast regional in Florida and the Georgia state competition," said Knox. "I don't doubt myself anymore, but I still have a lot of work to do. I just love yo-yoing and it's not practice to me, it's fun and doing what you love."

The young Knox has a competitive, tinkering spirit and it is not surprising as it runs in the family.

His father Jeff Knox set the National Muscle Car Association's True Street speed world record in 2008, going 7.98 seconds to break the eight-second barrier for the first time ever in his famed street legal 1972 Chevy Nova.

Jeffrey said about the shared competitive spirit of the father and son, "It's like when he runs his car down the track for a test run or working on the car, It's not practice, it's what you love to do and it's fun.'

Knox wanted other people to know that anyone can learn yo-yoing from the web and recommended and for places to start.

"Hopefully, I want to win the world yo-yo competition someday, that's my goal," said Knox. "So, I still have a lot of work to do."