I fell in love with/found Kendama during my first year on the Disc Golf Pro Tour circuit. Kendama has allowed me to enhance my mental game more than I thought I could and has connected me with many new amazing people. The people in the two communities are extremely like-minded and I am beyond excited to spread the love and bring Disc Golf and Kendama together!
- Gavin Babcock
Back in May of this year, I graduated from Central College in Pella, IA, where I wrestled and got a BA in Business Management and a minor in Music. After graduation, I took a couple of weeks to pack my things and hit the road to Portland, Oregon. I was on my way to finally fulfill my dream and join the Disc Golf Pro Tour representing Prodigy Discs, Titan Disc Golf, and Wander Disc Golf.
After two grueling days of driving a total of 27 hours, I had arrived in Oregon and met up with my two buddies from Iowa, Quintin and Matt. When I got there, Quintin introduced me to the world of Kendama. He pulled out his Reed Stark mod and I immediately was intrigued. Barely being able to get big cup (let alone a spike) was frustrating, yet thrilling. When I got my first spike, everyone was just as stoked as I was and it made me want more. I was hooked. I am an extremely competitive person, so later that week we were at a mall and I purchased my first Kendama.
The string was way too long, the cups weren’t right, the paint was slick, and the hole was impossible to spike. But with me not knowing any difference, I loved it. I grinded for a week or so, but I knew the Kendama was holding me back from what I was capable of. I stopped using mine and waited until I got my hands on a Sweets Kendama. I immediately hopped on the Sweets website and started eyeing the one I wanted to order. I spent weeks trying to convince myself to pull the trigger on buying one, but I realized at the time that in a month or so I would be in Minnesota for The Preserve Championships. I thought it would be the coolest thing in the world to stop by the shop, talk to the guys, and have them help me pick out my first legit Dama. Little did I know that this would be the start of new friendships and something bigger.
When I walked in, I was greeted by Cody Booth (aka The Ultimate Hype Man). I told him I played disc golf professionally and was looking to get my first Sweets Kendama while passing through on the way to the tournament. He answered all of my questions, explained everything I needed to know, and made the experience very memorable. After I settled on the Lumberjack Kendama, Matt Sweets (aka The Man, The Myth, The Legend) started chatting me up about disc golf. I had no idea that he was big into it and after watching all of his YouTube videos, I thought that it was so sick that he loved the sport that I am so passionate about. He ended up giving me a tour of the studio and showed me his Kendama collection. In return, I obviously had to sauce him a couple of Prodigy Discs.
We talked about the upcoming tournament, played a couple of casual rounds a few days later, and I hooked him up with my caddie pass so that he could come follow along and watch his favorite pros afterward. Sweets, Cody Booth, and Reed Stark (aka Big Energy) all ended up making it out to the tournament and started infiltrating the disc golf community. Just as expected, everyone loved it and it was so awesome to see all of my buddies and other touring pros get hyped over Kendama just like I did. This made me want to spread the love of Kendama even more.
I was told the more you wear it around your neck, the more you play, and the more you introduce it to new people. My Kendama hasn’t left my neck since. Everywhere I go, my Kendama goes with. I use it to warm up my mind before tournament rounds, stay focused during hole back ups in tournaments, grind out new tricks to learn better hand-eye coordination and balance, and lace fun combos when I’m hanging with my buddies.
Being offered to be a Sweets Ambassador was more than I could have ever imagined. Having the opportunity to share this passion with new people and give them the chance to fall in love with Kendama is amazing. Helping someone get their first spike is extremely gratifying and the feeling of watching their face light up cannot be matched. In the short couple of months or so that I have been playing, I have made new lifelong friendships, enhanced my mental state, improved my hand-eye coordination, and also played in my first Kendama tournament. Kendama has allowed me to try new things, compete in a different way, and feel out new pressure situations. Being able to play in a style that is unique to you is exactly why I love Kendama and will continue to spread this amazing game.
This is my Kendama Story.
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