Sams has competed at the 1A level in the national and world yo-yo contests. He placed fourth in a regional competition last year, securing a spot in the preliminaries of the National Yo-Yo Contest held each year in Chico, Calif.
Although he didn't move on from the preliminary round to the finals, his mother is incredibly impressed with the success he's had.
"He was one of the youngest boys there," Amanda Smith said. "Most of the competitors are in their late teens or 20s."
Last year, he placed fourth in Pennsylvania's state contest and ninth in Virginia's.
"My goal this year is to place really well on the East Coast in one of the regional contests," he said. "I'd like to get top three."
Competing at the world championship last year in Orlando, Fla., was "probably the coolest thing because I was just on the big stage in front of everyone," he said.
West Virginia has no yo-yo clubs, so Sams travels to the Cleveland Yo-Yo Club in Ohio once a month for meetings at a club that is sponsored by Duncan, the original yo-yo maker.
Duncan has shot videos of Sams and given him different yo-yos to take to competition, hoping that its products will boost him to the top of the heap.
Sams, who has a collection of around 50 yo-yos, said that he does play favorites. Right now, it's an orange plastic one called North Star, which is this year's world champion Jensen Kimmitt's signature yo-yo. Each year, the world champion has a yo-yo manufactured and named after him, and then marketed to the masses.
Sams said he likes both plastic and metal yo-yos, but that some people prefer plastic over metal because "they might play smoother or they spin longer."
One of the categories judged during competition is artistic presentation, so each young competitor tries to learn a new trick or style that will make him stand apart from his competitors.
A lot of the determinations for placement at the contests is based on the difficulty of the trick, including how technical it is and how fast you do it.
Judges also look for mistakes, something Sams said can be pretty hard to hide.
"You can't really cover it up if you get a knot, but at contests, you're allowed to take three different yo-yos, so if you do get a knot, you can switch out."
And, not surprisingly, knots happen.
"It's happened to me during competition before."
But Sams is seen as an up-and-comer in the world of yo-yoing, and he has started to create his own tricks.
"I don't necessarily name my tricks," Sams said. Instead, he just remembers the rhythm and combo of each one.
And with self-created tricks and a definite sense of yo-yo style, Sams hopes to one day take the world champion crown.
"We're waiting for the day when there is an Isaac Sams yo-yo," his grandmother said.
Reach Kathryn Gregory at kathr...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5119.