MOUNT VERNON — Ever feel like all the things in your life are like a juggling act? For Mount Vernon Nazarene University freshman Jeremy Stanley, it’s an everyday occurrence.
Growing up in Morgantown, W.Va., Stanley, at the age of 10, attended a Day Camp where people could learn the art of juggling. “I learned how to juggle three balls and just kept going,” Stanley told the News. “I really didn’t have an ambition before that. It just kind of grew from there. It was really fun.”
As his interest in juggling grew, so did his talents. A few months later, Stanley became the first non-college member of the West Virginia University Juggling Club, by invitation from the club president. Numerous competitions followed with Stanley taking first place many times.
“Most of what I compete in is actually called joggling,” explained Stanley, “Where you run and juggle at the same time.” He has competed internationally and won as many as 20 medals and awards. “Whenever you run, you take a step and throw a ball. So it’s actually very natural,” he said.
Stanley was asked why he thinks juggling captures people’s attention. “It’s the uniqueness of it. Not everyone juggles, so it’s just something different,” he said. And of course it’s not a skill that everyone can do. “When you juggle, you always want your eyes to be at the highest point of where you’re juggling. Your hands will move there. And there are different patterns that you can use.” Items that Stanley most of the time uses when juggling are balls, rings and clubs. He has at times used socks, tennis balls and even dangerous items like fire, knives and hatchets. No accidents have occurred while using dangerous objects. But Stanley did tell a story of a time where he tried juggling while standing on top of a basketball. The result was him falling from the basketball and fracturing his arm.
Stanley’s juggling talents have now grown from a hobby into a ministry. “I’ve gone to birthday parties, community events and stuff like that. But most of the time now I go to churches where I speak and juggle. I have a whole message I preach when I juggle.” His church ministry has taken him to weekend church services, dinners and Vacation Bible School events.
Fitting his juggling into a ministry worked out to be an easy fit for Stanley. “It catches people’s attention. And once you get someone’s attention, you can start talking to them,” he said. He relates the use of a lot of metaphors to his ministry. “Keeping your eyes on the highest point,” “Juggling the many pieces of your life” and “Once you drop, you get back up” are some of the messages Stanley relays to his audience.
And now that Stanley is entering adulthood, his juggling will probably continue on well into the future. “I definitely want to continue using it as a ministry, going places. And I want to compete more, also,” he said. Stanley is a pastoral ministry major at MVNU. “My goal is to become a pastor after I graduate, but I still want to juggle on the side,” he said.
“He really views his juggling as a ministry, using this as a way of gaining an opening with others in order to serve them,” said Dean Abbott, Assistant Professor of Communication at MVNU. “To be of his age and have the personal resolve and self-discipline to commit to developing a skill like that, I think he’ll be successful in whatever he wants to do.”