Student Spotlight: Tim McLaughlin ’11

Interviewer: As an eight-year-old circus fan, I aspired to become a juggler. But my childish obsession quickly faded as I hopelessly dropped every ball that I threw. No matter how hard I tried, I could not even keep three tennis balls up in the air. Earlier this year, at Grasshopper Night, my lost dream of becoming a juggler returned as I watched Tim McLaughlin ’11 handling countless flying objects in midair. McLaughlin possesses a unique talent and hobby: juggling. Q: Tim, how long have you been juggling? A: Well, seven years, seriously for about three years. I guess I started when my parents gave me a juggling set for Christmas and I started from there. It was really hard at first, so I got discouraged and quit for three years. But then I started again and got really into it. Q: Have you juggled for an audience for money? A: No, but I was offered once. Q: How many balls can you juggle at once? A: Technically, seven. Well, there’s a formula to this. To officially juggle something, you need to make twice as many catches as you have objects, but I can’t keep it up for very long. Q: Aside from your hands, what other body parts can you use to juggle? A: Feet, neck, sometimes my mouth for holding stuff, my forearms, knees. Q: Do you have a preference to what balls you use? A: Yes. Usually, I go for bean bags, because when you drop them, they don’t bounce or roll away. I do drop a lot. Q: When you make mistakes, how do you recover from it? A: When I make mistakes, well, I try to do something that will make up for it. If it falls on the ground, I will try to flip it up with my feet, but if there is a collision, I stop, pick everything up and start over again. Q: Have you ever competed with your juggling skills? A: No… There is a competition for jugglers, WJF (World Juggling Foundation). The people that do that are much higher skill level than I. Q: I’m sure it must have been difficult to teach yourself to juggle so many balls. How did you teach yourself? A: Well basically, the juggling book I got for Christmas tells you how to teach yourself. Basically, you just do it step by step, and slowly add on difficulty. That way you don’t overwhelm yourself. And you watch other good jugglers. Q: And what exactly is this book? A: Juggling for the Complete Klutz. Q: How many hours a week would you say you practice? A: Well, at Phillips it has gone to about… zero. But, before, I used to practice about five to six hours. Now I just don’t have time. Q: Many people were astounded by your Grasshopper Night performance. Who are your general audiences? How do they respond? A: General audiences are usually kids my age. Well, the response for non-jugglers is typical. They like to see things moving around. People have a hard time gauging how difficult juggling really is. I could do a really hard trick, and people sometimes don’t respond to it. Well, I’d just like to point out that the way people see juggling is not usually the way it actually is. Anyone can juggle; not just clowns and people in circus. It’s actually a very enticing and fun hobby. Anyone can juggle!