Assistant Features Editor
Zach Metzler, junior from Solon, Iowa, juggles almost everyday. What began as a spontaneous activity for him soon became his favorite hobby.
Metzler has been juggling since 2009. He said he would go to class at his previous college in Iowa and see the same man juggling. Metzler soon learned the man juggling on his campus was a professional juggler who would later act as a mentor to him.
“I later kind of met up with him,” Metzler said after noticing Doug Sayers juggle on campus. “He did entertainment and my girlfriend was working at a coffeehouse and they were looking for entertainment so I talked to him about that and he kind of inspired me to start juggling.”
Metzler soon began teaching himself how to juggle from online videos and from trial and error. He also learned some tricks from Sayers as they became friends.
“He’s gotten me really involved with things and learning,” Metzler said about Sayers who is also from Iowa.
Currently in Murray, Metzler can be found in front of the Fine Arts building, Elizabeth College Amphitheater and Winslow Dining Hall. Metzler also has a juggling gig at Murray’s Applebee’s. He said he got the gig from a spontaneous visit.
“I was driving through Murray and I was just stopping at random businesses (I thought) would have entertainment,” he said. “I was just walking in and asking if they had entertainment and introduced myself.”
At Applebee’s and his various spots on campus, Metzler displays his tricks for the public and has a donation box that he keeps with him for courteous audience members.
Metzler is at Applebee’s juggling from 5 to 9 on Tuesday nights. He receives a free meal for providing the customers with entertainment.
He said he receives various reactions from people when they see him juggling on campus.
“People usually think it’s pretty cool,” he said. “They’re kind of surprised by it because most people’s exposure to juggling is like, clowns doing birthday parties. It’s really not even close to the same thing.”
As a juggler, Metzler said even though no one means it, jugglers almost take offense when people ask if they are preparing to be in the circus. He said circus jugglers have a different focus.
“Their focus is to entertain people with weird things but jugglers take juggling to a higher level of technicality,” he said. “My focus as a juggler is to just push myself and see what I can achieve.”
Metzler said he enjoys juggling because it is, in some ways, similar to his old favorite hobby: skateboarding.
“That sounds a little weird,” he said about comparing the two activities. “(Juggling is) a lot like skateboarding because you are always pushing yourself and learning new things that are physically demanding. It’s really hard. It involves creativity and style.”
Metzler said there are two elements to juggling: the technicality and physicality. Both of these are necessary for successful juggling.
“There is actually a whole notations system, like a mathematical kind of number notations system called sight swap,” he said. “You learn all of these different sight swaps that are basically a sequence of numbers that define the heights of the throws.”
The physically demanding part of juggling, Metzler said, comes into play when juggling five or six different objects.
“It actually, believe it or not, works your core,” he said. “It’s cardio-work too because of the repetition.”
Metzler juggles clubs, rings, balls and torches. Metzler recommends starting with balls when learning to juggle, specifically juggling balls or hacky sack balls. As long as it hits the ground dead and does not roll around, he said, would be great for beginners.
“With the rings you are trying to focus on stability and getting a nice back-spin to it and with clubs you are worrying about the flipping of the clubs and with balls you don’t really have to worry about any of that,” he said. “It’s just the basic foundation point.”
Metzler and his younger brother began learning to juggle around the same time and have since then started their own independent juggling specialty, Metzler Juggling.
Other than entertainment, Metzler offers paying his craft forward by offering lessons in juggling. He can be contacted at email@example.com.