The Daily Evergreen

Juggling among the books

BY SHELTYN ROSE | Evergreen reporter

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They do it to stay young, they do it passionately, and there’s no telling what new techniques and toys will appear when Patty and Daniel Sparks get together for some good, old-fashioned juggling.

Patty will perform at 3:30 p.m. tomorrow at the Colfax Library for kids in grades one through six. The event is free and snacks for the children will be provided.

Those who attend will learn the history of juggling and get the chance to try it out for themselves.

It all started when Patty attended a juggling competition in Couer D’ Alene, Idaho, only to find a severe lack of clowns.

She said she witnessed a huge diversity of talented, professional jugglers from all over the world and decided that she too wished to learn the art.

Before Patty entered the world of juggling, she was a teacher as well as a world traveler and avid runner. 

When medical issues with her hips stopped her running habits, juggling proved to be a low-impact activity that could still work up a sweat both mentally and physically, she said.

By requiring the use of both hands, juggling uses both sides of the brain and helps develops ambidextrous hands.

 “Juggling is not about clowns,” Patty said. “It is a high-level skill and an ancient art form since the Egyptians.”

Soon after, Patty said her husband also found the joy in the sport, and they have spent the last nine years at the YMCA on the weekends and at schools around Eastern Washington practicing, refining, and teaching their skills.

“We do it for fun and for exercise and to stay young,” Patty said. “The couple that plays together, stays together.”

The couple has performed at high school assemblies as well as elementary and middle school events.

Patty said it’s amazing to see how juggling can bring a shy child out of their shell and sometimes help them find their talent.

She said her favorite tricks involve manipulating four mix props, whether it be a baseball, basketball, plastic rings, or a juggling club.

Daniel said his favorite thing to do is juggling transitions and tempo changes in the performance.

They have learned almost everything they know from YouTube and are continually learning new tricks.

Although the couple has picked up juggling later in their lives, they encourage the thought that it’s a great skill for anyone to hold.

“Juggling is a way to have stimulation for your brain, but it can calm you down at the same time,” Daniel said. “It’s a great way to take a break and relax.”

Colfax librarian Sheri Miller said that the library has had great success with a previous juggling group and is looking forward to having Patty for the first time.

“The kids love it, and being able to actually try to juggle is amazing for them,” she said.

The performance is expected to last about an hour and students who attend Jennings Elementary School can take Bus 6 directly to the library after school with a parent note.

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Juggling among the books