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Dec. 3, 2003


    OSWEGO -- In addition to juggling their classes, homework and personal time, an increasing number of SUNY Oswego students are adding rings, clubs and balls to the mix.

    The college's Oswego Jugglers is both one of the newest student clubs and one of the most active. Last month, members participated in the Cornell JuggleFest, and representatives have attended the Philadelphia JuggleFest and Rochester Institute of Technology Spring Juggle within the past year.

    They have also entertained area Girl Scouts and earned a most-spirited award at the community's Relay for Life fund-raiser.

    Sara Schwartz, a sophomore childhood education major from Westchester, got the ball rolling -- or airborne -- for the juggling club back in the spring.

    "We started with eight members, most of them my friends, and 75 percent of them couldn't juggle," said Schwartz, who has been juggling for about six years. "Now, on a good night, we get around 15 members juggling."

    Schwartz said attendance appears to rotate, as there are around 30 people on an e-mail list, and different faces will appear at practices, which are from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesdays in Hewitt Union's Bell Auditorium and 2 to 5 p.m. Fridays in the Lee Hall third floor studio.

    "Some people use it as a break from schoolwork," Schwartz said of club members. In addition to using the activity as a stress release, participants can appreciate the opportunities to enhance hand-eye coordination, to gain confidence or to make new friends.

    Schwartz noted that participants are encouraged to teach newer members. "It's great to teach other people," she said. "It's interesting to see the different levels people have reached. As you advance, it keeps you wanting to try harder and try out new things."

    Increased publicity and community involvement have helped, Schwartz said. Offering members an opportunity to travel to juggling festivals around the state or as far away as Philadelphia also sparks interest from prospective members.

    The juggling festivals are more collegial than competitive, Schwartz said, offering open juggling, workshops and performing tips. There are friendly games such as "quarter juggling," where everyone puts a quarter in the kitty and the last person juggling collects; Simon Says juggling; and light-hearted skill activities like juggling while eating one of the objects, like a cracker.

    "It's a great opportunity for us to contact clubs at other colleges," Schwartz said. "We meet a lot of interesting people, and when we see them again at juggling festivals, it's like seeing family."

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Practice makes perfect with the Oswego Jugglers

GIVE AND TAKE -- SUNY Oswego students Jennifer Rodgers and Shawn Graham (in foreground) exchange rings while juggling at a recent rehearsal for the Oswego Jugglers. The student club has visited juggling festivals in Philadelphia, Rochester and Ithaca this year.

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