Daniel Edmondson: Our Hooper of the Week Interview
by Philo Hagen
Daniel Edmondson (FB & @danieljedmondson) has appeared on hooping.org a few times and lost a nomination for Hooping Photo of the Year by a single vote. The dynamic hooper, who also happens to be a double amputee, has been inspiring us for awhile now, so much so that we knew we needed to find out more about him and his hooping story. So join us for a very special interview with Daniel Edmondson, our Hooper of the Week!
Philo: When did you start hooping and how?
Daniel Edmondson: I started hooping four years ago. I was at the beach and a group was hooping and one of them offered to teach me some tricks. I was hooked right away.
Philo: So hooping changed your life?
Daniel Edmondson: Well, I started hooping before my accident. I loved being involved in Minneapolis area flow arts. I also spin fire poi and staff. Back then, it was a great way to meet new people and be part of a community. I made some great friends from HoopTwinCities, INsphyre and the Minneapolis Fire Collective who pushed me to learn new things. It wasn’t until I returned to hooping after my accident that it truly started to impact my life in a way I hadn’t expected. Hooping helped me relearn balance on my prosthetics. Having to twist, turn and react to the weight of the hoop meant thinking less about what my feet were doing. Many people talk about the bond they have with their hoops where they feel like an extension of their body. Hooping helped me feel that way about my legs. I honestly just shed a tear remembering what it was like to hoop again for the first time, and how the joy of hooping never left.
Philo: What does your hooping life look like now?
Daniel Edmondson: Well, to be honest I put the hoop down for a while. I separated my shoulder skateboarding, and only recently picked up my hoop to help rehabilitate and build strength after the injury. The gentle, rhythmic weight of the hoop was the perfect tool.
Philo: Skateboarding Daniel?
Daniel Edmondson: Yes, I skateboard. Lately I’ve been volunteering a lot of my time with the Adaptive Skate Kollective. We travel the country attending adaptive skate competitions, and providing clinics and skate demos. Currently my focus is downhill skateboarding, reaching speeds of 35-40mph.
Philo: I love it! So when and how did you end up becoming an amputee?
Daniel Edmondson: I was train hopping and fell on the tracks. It was a dumb, howl at the moon moment. I very easily could have died, but I didn’t, and that’s what I chose to focus on. Learning to forgive and love yourself is so important to being sustainably happy.
Philo: So true. Tell everyone about your hooping work at the amputee conference too.
Daniel Edmondson: Last June I ran a hooping clinic at the Amputee Coalition of America’s National Conference in Greensboro, North Carolina, USA. They offer a prosthetic trade show and clinics for the amputee community. There are also fun classes like dance, exercise, and now hooping too!
Philo: Yay! Tell us about the class.
Daniel Edmondson: I put on some music, and showed the group some basic tricks and moves. The most important thing I could teach was that hooping is whatever you want it to be. Just like skateboarding, you can make up new combos and develop your own style.
Philo: How did they do?
Daniel: We had a few people hooping from their wheelchairs, or learning tosses with their prosthetic hands. It was amazing. Several people said it was the most fun they’ve had hooping since childhood. One woman came to me in tears after remembering how much she loved to hoop when she was younger and thanked me for reminding her. We’re all just big kids anyway.
Philo: I know I am! Speaking of kids, you’re teaching kids at “Pirate Camp” as they call it too, right?
Daniel Edmondson: Pirate Camp is an amputee and limb-different kids’ camp in Clearwater, Florida. It’s held every year by the Never Say Never Foundation. They have sailing, arts and crafts, volleyball, etc. The Adaptive Skate Kollective also shows up and does a skate clinic for the kids. This year they asked me to run a hooping clinic.
Philo: How did it go with the kids?
Daniel Edmondson: They seemed to really enjoy it. Most of them spent their time on basic things like waist hooping, balancing or arm circles. I’m hoping that some of them find a passion for it and start exploring some more complex moves. I plan on returning next year with more people in the local community who can show how exciting hooping can be.
Philo: Awesome! What are you currently working on?
Daniel Edmondson: I recently published a coloring book! After my accident I started drawing as a coping tool. I drew Bart Simpson skating with a prosthetic leg, and it gave me the idea to draw a bunch of my adaptive skater friends. It’s called the Adaptive Skate Coloring Book and it might be my single greatest accomplishment. It’s my hope that it inspires new adaptive riders, and shines light on life for new amputees coming to terms with limb loss.
Philo: What else do you do when you’re not hooping?
Daniel Edmondson: I coach for a swim team, and I absolutely love it. Working with kids always keeps me in a good mood. Swimming is like hooping in a way, it’s about timing, coordination, math, breathing, etc. I like being their robot coach, and the Finding Nemo references never end.
Philo: I bet. Do you have a favorite hooping memory or two to share?
Daniel Edmondson: Every year Minneapolis does this thing in the winter called the Luminary Loppet. During the day it’s a cross-country ski race, but at night the community walks the path along the luminaries with entertainment and hot cocoa along the way. We gather on the ice and spin fire for the crowd. I hadn’t done much fire hooping, but I borrowed one and had a really great dance. It felt like life had come full circle, it was shortly after the anniversary of my injury. After everything I went through, to be there fire hooping with my friends to a captive audience in below freezing temperatures, well, it made me cry just knowing I was alive and happy, and there in that moment.
Philo: You’re making me cry too! What quality do you most admire in a hooper?
Daniel Edmondson: I admire hoopers who continually up their game. We all need to have our go-to bag of tricks and routines, but I think the best hoopers are the ones who never get stale and continue to learn and grow.
Philo: And do you have any advice for someone just picking up a hoop for the very first time today?
Daniel Edmondson: There’s no wrong way to hoop. Don’t get discouraged if you can’t get a trick right away. Try not to force the hoop anywhere, instead listen to it tell you where it wants to go. Above all, enjoy it. It’s not about how well you do something but how much joy you receive doing it.
Philo Hagen is the Co-founder and Managing Editor of Hooping.org. He’s been spinning things up online and off since April 2003. Co-Founder of the Bay Area Hoopers and LA Hoopers hoop groups, Philo has performed internationally and has won Hoopie Awards for Male Hooper of the Year and Video of the Year. He lives in Los Angeles, California, USA.