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Derek Lippincott
The Journalist
Matt Holland, a member of the NU Juggling Club, practices Monday in the Sheldon Scultpure Garden.
photo by Noel Judd

If you walk into the culture center on Wednesday and Sunday evenings, watch out for flying balls, and perhaps a couple of out-of-control unicycles.

Those are the two nights of the week the University of Nebraska Juggling Club meets and practices. To a passerby, the Culture Center might look somewhat chaotic, said Jeff Dixon, president of the juggling club.

"If a person walks in, they'll probably see a lot of clubs and balls in the air and a couple of people on unicycles," dixon said. "A few times we've had people walk by and take interest."

Dixon, a senior mechanical engineering major from Oak Park, Ill., said the club, which has been around for five years, is meant to be fun and to teach new members how to juggle. Currently, the club has about 20 members, but Dixon said that walk-ins were welcome.

"We like that a lot when people want to come in and learn stuff," Dixon said. "We teach them tricks and teach them how to do group juggling, and then we get into more difficult stuff like riding a unicycle and using props like that."

Dixon said if a person practiced for 30 minutes a day for two or three days, he or she could learn to juggle three balls.

Lucas Sabalka, a senior math major from Lincoln, has taken juggling lessons from Dixon. Sabalka, a two-year member of the NU Juggling Club, said anyone could learn the various tricks. "It takes hand-eye coordination, dedication and concentration to juggle," he said. "Juggling is an acquired skill. Once you get the basics down, learning tricks isn't that hard."

Sabalka said he enjoyed the challenge of juggling and learning new tricks.

"My favorite kind of juggling is called Mill's Mess," Sabalka said, which involves juggling balls in a pattern while crossing and uncrossing your arms. "I'd like to get to the point where I could do Burke's Barrage, which is very similar but I don't think anyone at UNL can do that."

If there's someone who can, it's probably Dixon. A juggler since age 12, Dixon said he could juggle seven balls or five clubs at a time. He can also do tricks such as juggle while riding a unicycle, and when the weather is nice, he can juggle flaming torches outside.

As for the jugglers at UNL and for the stuff we do, I'm probably the most accomplished one," Dixon said. "As far as technical juggling skills, there are several people out there that do this for a living that are on my level."

Prospective members shouldn't be intimidated, Sabalka said.

"Juggling club isn't just about juggling, it's about having fun," says Sabalka. "Anybody can come in and have a good time just by learning to juggle and watching other people."