Sylvain dazzles with sleights of hand
Loyola's John Sylvain warms up at CCL Championship boys bowling tournament at Poplar Creek Bowl in Hoffman Estates on Saturday. | Joe Cyganowski~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 19, 2013 12:39PM
HOFFMAN ESTATES — Loyola boys bowler John Sylvain won’t pull a rabbit out of his hat, but he does perform a card trick in which he hides a playing card in his mouth.
“He impressed me with that trick,” said Ramblers coach Chuck Halfpap, who was named Chicago Catholic League Coach of the Year during Saturday’s CCL Championship Tournament at Poplar Creek Bowl. “I don’t know how he did it. The card ended up in his mouth, and I never saw it go in.”
Sylvain, a senior who posted a 162 average in CCL action this season, said he began doing card tricks in first grade, as a means to help him cope with all the moving. Sylvain said he moved from his native Detroit to California, came back to Detroit, and then to the greater Chicago area when he was in seventh grade.
“I always had to meet new people, so I started doing magic — mostly card tricks,” he said. “Kids would say, ‘You’re the magic guy.’ My dad (Tim) showed me the classic card tricks, and I took it from there. It was a hobby at first, and then it became so important to me. It’s become part of who I am, and people know me for it.”
Besides having a quick hand, Sylvain said the key for pulling off a successful trick is to be a good actor. He said a trick won’t work as well if the audience isn’t interested in what he’s saying as he sets it up.
“If you have a good story with the trick, it will build up the effect,” Sylvain said. “I have one trick where it looks like I messed it up, but then it works in the end. You really have to deceive the audience into thinking, ‘This guy doesn’t know what he’s doing.’ You have to set ’em up. It’s about being confident in what you’re doing. Otherwise, you’ll lose the audience’s attention ... you’ll lose the effect. I love it when I do a trick, and they have no idea how I’m doing it.”
Besides bowling and performing card tricks, Sylvain has several other interests:
• He is a member of Loyola’s marching band, symphonic band and jazz band. He plays trombone and tuba, and plays drums in a basement rock band with friends as well.
“Performing is one of the things I like to do, and music is another thing that’s helped me meet people,” he said. “It takes creativity, and it’s mentally challenging.”
• Sylvain also is working on his Eagle Scout project — with Glenview-based Boy Scout Troop 57 — which involves a 200-square foot compost unit to help combat invasive species at River Trail Nature Center, in Northbrook.
• He’s a fan of puzzles as well, and said his record for solving a Rubik’s Cube is 32 seconds.
“I like to be challenged — if not, it’s boring, and I don’t feel interested,” Sylvain said. “With card tricks, I’ve got something no one else I know can do. When people are amazed by something I do, they remember it. That’s the main thing — they enjoy it, and that’s something I enjoy. I like to make people happy with it.”