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Tuesday, June 25
The Indiana Daily Student

sports

Juggling more than a hobby

Club accommodates all students, all levels

When he started a juggling club at IU in 1984, Steve Ragatz was trying to bring together people who shared his interest in the sport. Although he usually succeeded in persuading his friends to meet twice a week and throw balls, rings and pins at each other, he never expected the club would one day draw such a broad spectrum of talent. \nNow, 17 years later, members agree the club's greatest achievement is that they have people come out who just want to learn to juggle three balls and then leave as skilled as other members who perform in national competitions, hold world records and travel with the Cirque du Soleil -- an internationally acclaimed traveling circus. \n"We have, and have had, several jugglers that have taken their skills and turned professional," Ragatz said. "But at the same time, it is primarily geared to promote social interaction between members and to provide a place for students to come and learn the craft and have a good time." \nRagatz won the rec-sports "Athlete of the Year" award in the early 1990s for his juggling achievements. He has performed professionally on-and-off for the past two decades, working theme parks, ice shows, corporate events, television and most notably, the Cirque du Soleil. \nThere are other famous jugglers affiliated with the club including Fritz Grobe and Albert Lucas. Grobe has won the U.S. Nationals Juggling Championship and has since performed professionally. Lucas holds several world records for juggling large numbers of objects. \nLucas' challenge is breaking the record of 12 objects -- a record he set a few years back. He has made many public attempts to juggle 14 objects. \n"The club has many great jugglers who are knowledgeable about a lot of juggling techniques and happy to share their knowledge with those who enjoy coming to have fun and learn the basic fundamentals," said club adviser Lisa Thomassen. "Both those who want to perform, and those who want to develop their skills, and even those who just want to have fun are welcome at the club."\nThe IU Juggling Club has been known to perform at benefit events in Bloomington, including an annual children's program with the Bloomington Symphony. The club also does several events hosted by the university, including a performance for the opening of the new auditorium this past year. \n"We frequently entertain for BloomingKids, a local community service organization, and also entertain during Family Fun Night at the (Student Recreational Sports Center)," said former club president Adam Ploshay. \nThe club involves just about as much commitment as one chooses and does not require any fees to join. Senior members lend juggling equipment to those who do not have their own, and more skilled jugglers concentrate on being accommodating and helpful to beginners. The club meets twice a week -- Sundays at 4 p.m. and Tuesdays at 8 p.m. in Health, Physical Education and Recreation room 169. \n"I maintained a fun, unusual hobby that helps me relax and sometimes get gigs," Ploshay said. "I have been able to enjoy the company of some really neat folks"

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