Woodbury-based yo-yo club teaches the science of tricks higher education level 3

The jean jacket-wearing guy from fishtown and his knit beanie-donning business partner luke hildebrand, also from philadelphia, turned a childhood hobby into their livelihood.

Amid competitive yo-yoing titles and the bustle of building their recess yo-yo brand, you’ll find the twentysomethings at a woodbury game shop every saturday afternoon, passing on their tricks to a new generation.

"When we were younger, it gave us a sense of control over something. We can have a bad day at school, or a bad time with our parents. But we can just go to our room and have some control over something."

Hildebrand and severance hung out in the back of woodbury’s tiki tiki board games shop, the new occupant of the city’s iconic polsky’s corner store.

It was a wednesday afternoon, and just a handful of yo-yo "throwers" stood near sets of mismatched tables and chairs.Morrison said the group lightly chatted while effortlessly manipulating spinning spools up and down strings, never dropping the toys, never tangling the twine and never looking stressed out by the exercises.

On saturday afternoons — between 4 and 6 p.M. — the back nook of the shop is alive with tiki tiki yo-yo club members led by hildebrand and severance.

The pair weren’t the originators of tiki tiki yo-yo club four years ago. But since the death of group founder A.J. Kirk in 2015, the philadelphia throwers took over.

"(kirk) called me when we were at the old store," tiki tiki owner ryan morrison explained. Tiki tiki used to be a few blocks away on broad street in woodbury.

Morrison remembers thinking the call was a joke, somebody from his shop phoning in a weird prank. He took a chance and told the guy on the other end of the line to come over at lunchtime to show the tiki tiki crew what he was about.Tiki tiki

He could perform high-level tricks while balancing objects on his face, like vacuums and chairs, morrison said, smiling hard with the memory.

The club is more than 3 years old. A mural in the shop shows kirk, in a black shirt and beard, throwing a yo-yo sideways into a kaleidoscope of vibrant colors.

"When a store like this opens, it becomes a cultural hub for yo-yos," said severance, who initially met kirk years ago at a shop in delaware, one of the closest stores to him at the time catering to the nerd niche.

New members for the woodbury club are often recruited at schools where severance and hildebrand have given free talks on the science of yo-yo tricks.

The talks — which he says satisfy some state physical education and science curriculum requirements — hit on the history of the 2,500-year-old toy that was brought to the united states from the philippines in the 1920s, according to hildebrand.Morrison said

The yo-yo is the second-oldest toy on the planet, next to dolls. Its popularity surged during the 1960s when they were made from plastic instead of wood, severance added.

"We cover the applied physics of how yo-yos work, talk about ball bearings and friction, and rotational, kinetic and potential energy," severance said, explaining older kids get a section on gyroscopic stability.

Vito stood alongside the club’s pros, throwing his yo-yo — one of hundreds he’s collected since he joined the club. He throws as gracefully as the pros he’s standing beside.

"This is the nicest community of people I’ve ever met," morrison said, watching vito drop the whirling disk from the string tied to his middle finger.

Vito plucked up a section of string that forced the spool around his leg and back. It’s a move a harlem globetrotter might do with a basketball, not a spinning toy on a string.Morrison said

Vito — who’s rarely without a yo-yo on him, even during baseball practice — is following kirk’s lead in spreading the spinning sport. On friday, the fifth-grader started a yo-yo club at his school.

Yo-yos are a mix of art, skill and nostalgia, falling into the right circle in morrison’s "venn diagram of nerdiness" for the tiki tiki-hosted south jersey geek fest event that will be held saturday in woodbury heights.

This weekend is the ninth festival that the board game store and its supporters have put on in south jersey to fill gloucester county’s geekdom void.