Life on a String: Straight Up and Down

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The rigors of day-to-day life tend to extinguish the flames of youth and creativity in most people. Society dictates that when you reach a certain age, you are no longer allowed to do what once, in youth, made you happy. People who have managed to resist this truly are few and far between. Dale Myrberg, a Utah native, is one of these people. “I’m the epitome of the old guy who grew up to be a kid,” he says. Recently, I got the opportunity to kick back with Myrberg. We threw some yo-yos, he knocked quarters off of some ears and shared with me his philosophy on life and his opinion on the current state of yo.

Yo-yoing is a big part of life for Myrberg and he is a big part of yo-yoing. He is 66 years old and has been yo-yoing for over 60 of those years. He started just like all the other kids, trading small time tricks locally. However, the supernatural yo beings had a different plan for Myrberg. They endowed him with the capacity to learn the long-hidden secrets of yo. Before too long, Myrberg was capable of performing advanced tricks that even Duncan demonstrators struggled with. When Myrberg was 13-years-old, he was hired by Duncan as a demonstrator for a dollar an hour. Myrberg took a break from yo-yoing during high school. “I didn’t think it was the cool thing to do at South High. I shouldn’t have ever done it,” he says. Other than that short hiatus, he has been throwing like crazy and has never looked back.


Photo: Adam Dorobiala

Thus began Myrberg’s monumental yo-yoing career. In 1995, he was among the first of three to be named a National Yo-yo Master. In 1996, he won the World’s Yoyo Contest, earning the title of World Yo-yo Champion. That same year, Myrberg set six benchmark yo-yoing world records. Five of them have since been broken (though, not with fixed-axle yo-yos, much to his chagrin) but one, outside loops, still stands to this day. In 2001, he was awarded National Yo-yo Grand Master status, a title that is held by only three other people worldwide. In addition to all of that, he also had a lot to do with getting Bandai to buy into a distribution deal with Yomega, effectively creating the biggest yo-yo fad the world has ever known. “I always wanted to go to Japan for some reason. When that opportunity came up, I went over there with promoters from Hawaii, Alan Nagao and Alex Garcia, and we promoted yo-yo. He got Bandai toys to buy onto it, and that was the beginning of the biggest yo-yo fad in the world,” he said. That’s right: That means you have Myrberg to thank for the second coming of the yo-yo craze.

Dale’s wife is Sue Myrberg, and she’s a trooper. She helped develop certain elements of Myrberg’s show and has traveled with him to competitions and other events all over the world. ”She’s been around this for 34 years,” he says. “Sometimes, she gets a little bored with it. But she’s been a very great supporter to me. It’s not all bad for her, though. I think she’s had a lot of fun at it. She went on the Japan trips. It was really fun to be able to have something like this to share with my wife and for her to come with me and share her joy with me on these trips,” he says. It’s clear that she is invaluable to him and that he is very grateful to have her.

In 2004, Myrberg was diagnosed with cancer. His morale was at an all-time low, but he managed to survive. Shortly after, the yo-yo community really started recognizing Myrberg for his life-long contributions to yoyoing. In 2005, he was inducted into the Yo-Yo Hall of Fame. Some of his hall-of-fame cohorts include Donald Duncan Sr., legendary Duncan Demonstrators Gus Somera, Pedro Flores and Linda Singpiel, as well as Tom Kuhn, father of the ball-bearing yo-yo. Without the contributions of these men and women, yo-yoing would simply not be what it is today. In 2005, he was given the yo-yo lifetime achievement award. “That boosted my morale a lot. I thought, ‘Wow, these guys think so much of me.’ These things gave me drive and energy to be positive and to move forward,” he says. The fact that the yo-yoing community showed such sincere appreciation for a lifetime of dedication validated Myrberg and provided him a major morale boost in a seriously difficult time of his life.

Myrberg’s live show is all based on goal setting. He starts with the gravity pull (making the yo-yo go down and come back up) and demonstrates steps along the way necessary to performing advanced tricks like “Shoot the Moon” and a complicated string trick routine. It more or less embodies his philosophy on life. That is, believe that you can do anything and keep trying until you do it. “We’re not going to accomplish everything that we set goals for in life, but always do the best you can,” he says. It’s easy to see how he applies this to his life. At his show, if he misses a trick, you’ll hear Myrberg say something like, “You get three tries. Nobody’s perfect.” That’s just how he has lived life, and it certainly encompasses more than yo-yoing.

Yo-yoing has taken Myrberg all over the world. He has been on TV in Inkley’s commercials and appeared in music videos for Clint Daniels and The Osmonds. Of all the places in the world that Myrberg has performed, he says that Oktoberfest at Snowbird is his favorite. This year marked his 21st year performing at the event. “It’s my favorite place in the whole world to perform. It’s right in my own back yard. I absolutely love it.” I’ve seen Myrberg perform quite a few shows there and witnessed people become so mesmerized that they forget to clap and smiles are permanently fixed on their faces as they watch. I think it’s safe to say that Myrberg is a local favorite as well.

He will tell you that he is a true product of a misspent youth. Whether that’s true or not, Myrberg is one of a kind. He has gone through some dark times. He has battled (and defeated) cancer and deals with other personal hardships on a daily basis. Despite all of his struggles, he has maintained an absolutely positive outlook on life. We Utahns are lucky to have him and so is the yo-yoing world. Without people like Myrberg, yo-yoing would most likely be a thing of the past.

You can check out some videos of Dale Myrberg in action at slugmag.com.