In the mid-2000s, Cuartero worked at Merrill Lynch in a cubicle. Long before that, though, as a kid growing up in New Jersey, he had fallen in love with a little round thing on a string known as a yo-yo. By high school, he had fine-tuned his yo-yoing skills and was asked to join Team Yomega, sponsored by a Massachusetts yo-yo company. He accepted the invitation and was soon touring the United States, participating in demonstration events. However, the first time he saw a demonstration by Team High Performance, from Hawaii, he realized there was another level.
“These were the guys who came into the room with uniform teal shirts and with all these sponsorships,” Cuartero says, remembering how he was in awe of them. “I desperately wanted to be on that team.”
Cuartero’s dreams came true, and he was asked to join Team High Performance. They gave him a T-shirt and flew him all over the world for competitions. “I got to meet so many people. I’d never been anywhere. But once I got into college, I stopped yo-yoing -- cold turkey, you might say.”
After school, Cuartero took a job on Wall Street in the financial sector, thinking it was exactly what he wanted to do. But old habits die hard. While talking on conference calls in his cubicle, he would yo-yo with both hands. Eventually, after seeing a market for yo-yos on the Internet, he realized what was missing in his life. Thus, he found a few partners, launched the web portal YoYoNation.com, and after several months, quit his Wall Street job.
“I took it upon myself to become something of a yo-yo evangelist,” he says. “All I really wanted to do was spread the love and joy and passion that I had for yo-yos to everybody else.”
Cuartero and YoYoNation launched the first International Yo-Yo Open & New York State Yo-Yo Contest in 2007, and media, , from the New York Times to the Today Show, immediately pounced on the concept. People who had thought the yo-yo ended with comedian Tom Smothers were now discovering an enormous and Byzantine subculture of young yo-yo freaks around the globe.
Yo-yo play is broken down into five different styles and is done with a single yo-yo, two yo-yos (one in each hand), a stringless yo-yo, or a counterweight, for which the end of the string is attached to a weight instead of to a finger. Each style organically creates its own repertoire of specific tricks and stunts.