What goes around comes around for Ray Laurent, business unit director at Hi-Stat Manufacturing. Laurent, you see, is a champion boomerang thrower, at one time ranked No. 2 in the nation.
"I'm a mechanical engineer, and when I first saw a chunk of wood that did what these things can do, man, I was hooked," he says. Before his two children came along to make life busy, "I used to leave work every day, run straight home and throw boomerangs till my arm ached."
Laurent's wife, Callie, throws, too. They've traveled cross-country on the U.S. Boomerang Association tournament circuit, competing in distance, accuracy and catching ability. "Back in the day I had the second- longest throw in the world, a diameter of 131.5 meters, or about 150 yards." That's 30 yards longer than a regulation football field, if you're counting.
Laurent says the sport is easy to pick up, but fine-tuning takes a lifetime. "If you can throw a baseball with any reasonable reliability and consistency, I can teach you to throw a boomerang in five minutes," he says. In fact, after he treated a group of German businessmen visiting Hi-Stat last year to a demonstration in an empty field next to the plant, one of the men took it up as a hobby.
A movement to add boomerang throwing to the list of Olympic sports a few years ago failed, Laurent says. ("A lot of people are bummed that ballroom dancing made it instead.") Still, the couple has passed the craft to the next generation; when their oldest son heads to the University of Central Florida next fall, "he will take his boomerang bag off to college with him," Laurent says proudly.