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Having Fun While Learning: The NC State Juggling Club

When a friend of mine (who juggles for Acroentertainment) mentioned that there was a juggling workshop/club that met every week, I was interested but far from optimistic about the likelihood of learning the art with any success.

The experts in the group demonstrating lit torch juggling

Hand to eye coordination is not something I’m known for, and juggling certainly requires that and more. While I’ve admired the talent of jugglers as well as was entertained by it, I believed it was something I could never learn. This all changed after one evening at a workshop in the Method Community.

The NC State Juggling Club is a loosely organized group of experts and novices, organized and led by expert juggler Frank Jeffreys. They meet every Monday from 6:30 until 8:00 at the Method Community Center (514 Method Road). The workshop is welcoming of everyone at every skill level, and there’s no charge for attending and learning.

The ladies in the left of the image above are demonstrating a technique used to assist those new to the sport. The idea is for two people to stand side by side, each with one arm behind their back and cooperatively juggle. By doing this, you throw the ball or bean bag a bit slower, and usually with more accuracy. I fell into a category known as “the jogging juggler”, meaning my throws were so wild that I was constantly running all over the place trying to catch them. Pair juggling is especially helpful for this type of novice, as it tends to guide you to direct your throws in a more restrained fashion.

After only an hour or so of practice and guidance from those who are more skilled than I am, I was able to do 8 complete rotations — far more than I thought would be possible. But don’t let my bragging fool you, most of my time was spent chasing wildly flung bean bags.

Juggling is not only a fun way to build physical and mental dexterity, but it’s also a fantastic way to “reset the brain”. Several former and current colleagues of mine would start juggling when staring at a particular problem for too long. After a few minutes of forcing your brain to think in a completely different way, you approach a particular task, design, scenario, etc. with a fresh set of eyes and a fresh mind. It’s also a good cardiovascular workout and strength building exercise.

Above is the historic 1926 Agriculture Building where the group meets every Monday

I highly recommended attending one of the workshops of the NC State Juggling Club. All you have to do is show up on a Monday between 6:30 and 8:00 at the Method Community Center. All props (bean bags, balls, clubs, etc.) are provided and you need not sign up in advance. You can also join the Yahoo Group to keep up to date on current events and discussion on the topic.

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