Juggling Club after hours


Group Act: Sophomore Meredyth Herrera (left). Michael Sinde (second from left), and seniors Peter Nardulli (second from right) and Penny McNeela (right) practice tossing clubs to each other. Photo by Sofia Oyarzún

Kaitlyn Jiang, staff writer

Sounds of laughter fill the freshman cafeteria as clubs, balls, and rings are tossed in the air, landing in the hands of students. Words of encouragement cheer new members on as they experiment with juggling for the first time, while more experienced members perform new tricks. Juggling Club is all about meeting people and helping them gain excitement to do something new, Robert Shellard, Juggling Club Sponsor, Choir Director, said.

Juggling Club was founded in the mid-80s by Sue Salay, former Instructional Supervisor of World Languages, Shellard said. The club paused for a while until Shellard’s father, Dr. Jim Shellard, the former Assistant Principal of Student Activities, brought it back in the early 90s. As a student, Shellard was in Juggling Club while his dad was the sponsor. This created an interesting dynamic between them, as Shellard followed his dad’s footsteps in becoming the sponsor of the club.

“Being a student, my dad was the sponsor, and so it was always an interesting relationship in terms of, ‘Is he the sponsor? Is he my dad?’” Shellard said.

Whether an advanced juggler or a beginner juggler, Juggling Club has a place for everyone, senior Penny McNeela explained.

While the common image that comes to mind when thinking of juggling is someone tossing three balls in a sort of pattern called cascade juggling, Juggling Club is not limited to just one prop, Shellard said. Clubs, pins, and rings can also be used, he explained.

Senior Vince Hackl first got involved in Juggling Club when a member of the Winter Play showed him how to use a diablo: a contraption consisting of two sticks and a string with an hourglass-shaped centerpiece.

“From that moment, I was just so excited to come to Juggling Club and just learn how to pick up new objects and learn as much as I could,” Hackl shared.

McNeela considers V-Show one of the highlights of being in Juggling Club. This year, with the theme You Learn, Juggling Club members McNeela, Hackl, senior Peter Nardulli, and sophomore Meredyth Herrera created a 1980s-safety-video-themed V-Show act about teaching the audience how to juggle, Shellard said.

First, the students got together and came up with ideas for the act, McNeela said. Then, they wrote the script, which Hackl explained was aimed to be humorous and showcase all the members’ talents. From there, they practiced the act for V-Show auditions and perfected it for the show, Shellard said.

“You get closer with the people that [do] the show with you,” McNeela said. “Creating the act, practicing it, and getting it ready for the stage is a lot of fun.”

For Juggling Club, this year’s V-Show act also had a massive addition: the torch-juggling video, Shellard said. Juggling fire has been a running joke in the club. Shellard got in touch with the Glenview Fire Department, and two firefighters supervised while the students safely juggled fire in front of a firetruck.

“[The fire act] really came to life from a joke,” Hackl said. “We said ‘We should juggle fire,’ and Mr. Shellard said, ‘I have torches, we could do that.’ So it just sort of happened.”

Many members of Juggling Club have learned valuable lessons and skills from the club, McNeela said. She learned to be braver when trying new things and to be persistent. She explained that when you are first learning three-ball juggling, it can be really frustrating, but one day, it just clicks. Shellard loves when students have that moment.

“I love celebrating their [the students’] growth,” Shellard said. “I’m also trying to encourage them to keep going beyond where I’m at because I’m not the cap— I’m nowhere near there, and there’s so much farther these students could go.”