Every Monday from 7-9 p.m. in the Memorial Union Building (MUB), the UNH Juggling Club meets to practice new tricks, hang out with friends and encourage beginners. Above all, they meet for fun; to take time out of their busy schedules to juggle things significantly less complicated than college classes: balls, pins, rings and a swinging contraption with two glowing balls on either end of a long string, called a “poi.”
Senior geology major, UNH Woodsmen Team member and Juggling Club President Alaina Tocci said that being involved in several student organizations in addition to juggling schoolwork keeps her very busy.
Tocci said that the Juggling Club tries to hold Learn To Juggle Night every semester in order to generate more interest in the organization and the hobby in general.
“The sad thing is that people come and they say, ‘Oh, I’ve never tried to juggle before and I can’t, it’s too hard.’ But that’s not the case, they just didn’t have the right instructions,” Tocci said.
The attendees at Monday night’s event ranged from students to alumni, faculty and community members, and from beginning to moderate and advanced jugglers. Freshman mechanical engineering major Nick Matte was one first-timer who wandered through the Granite State Room doors to try his hand at juggling.
Already able to solve a Rubik’s Cube, Matte said that he was looking to acquire a new and different skill. “People that can juggle just have that cool, special ability,” he said.
“I’ve always wanted to juggle,” Matte said, noting that when he was a kid, every time he tried he would give up. Now, he said his ultimate goal is to be able to juggle five balls.
Across the room, community member Andrew Smith was doing just that, attempting to maintain a steady tossing rate of five white balls.
Smith said that he was part of the juggling club at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, and now lives in the New Hampshire Seacoast area for his job at Liberty Mutual. He is a regular at UNH Juggling Club meetings, as he said he still enjoys the hobby in his post-graduation life.
Another non-student present on Monday night was UNH Hospitality Services employee Josh Fairbanks, who said that his father was a former member of the UNH Juggling Club. Fairbanks said that he remembers going to Juggling Club meetings when he was only four years old, and that he has been juggling for his entire life since.
Sophomore roommates earth science major Anastasia George and math major Alyssa Blodgett entered the event later, and immediately set off to practice their two-person juggle.
“We’ve been coming [to Juggling Club] for like a month,” Blodgett said.
“We could juggle after the first time being here. So cool,” George said.
The two said that they use tennis balls to practice juggling in their dorm room outside of Juggling Club meetings.
Practicing more advanced tricks closer to the stage area were numerous experienced jugglers, participating in a group activity involving bowling pins.
“We need to have a universal slow down,” UNH alumni and former Juggling Club member Greg Samuels said at one point during the collective juggle when it had become too chaotic.
Tocci and the rest of the UNH Juggling Club members said they want to encourage any new faces to appear during their regular meetings or events.
“It’s just fun. I come here every week and I have a blast. I learn new things. I hang out with friends. It’s a way to be creative,” Tocci said. “There’s some days I come here and it’s just been a long, hard day, a big Monday, and I forget everything. I just have a lot of fun.”