Carson City juggler to train with mentor

C.J. Smith flashes seven at Western Nevada Community College Friday.

C.J. Smith flashes seven at Western Nevada Community College Friday.

Some say it takes magic to defy gravity. C.J. Smith says it takes discipline.

"You have to work at it consistently," explained the 17-year-old Carson High School student. "It's like weightlifting: If you work out really hard one day then skip it for a week, it's like you never did anything. You have to keep doing it every day."

That's why C.J. spends between four and six hours every day practicing his juggling skills.

And he's planning to go even more hard core.

He left Sunday with world-renowned juggler Anthony Gatto for Las Vegas, where he will train for two weeks with Gatto's father, Nick Gatto, who also trained Anthony Gatto.

The two will focus on increasing endurance, finding the right diet, and the proper training schedule for practicing different tricks.

"Juggling is really good cardio," C.J. said. "It doesn't make you buff, but it gives you a lot of endurance."

Although he understands the technique of juggling, he can see why it has an air of mystery.

"When you learn it, you can make it look easy," he said. "It's like you have some special power."

C.J. became interested in juggling after seeing an assembly at school when he was 8. Since then, he'd tossed it around a little bit, but became serious about juggling two years ago.

He's mastered juggling the three basic types of objects: rings, balls and clubs.

From there, everything else falls into place.

A few weeks ago, he captured the silver medal for his age division in the international juggling competition in Reno. He competed against contestants from around the world, including from Russia and Japan.

But juggling can have its hazards. The rings can cut your hands, and a wayward club can leave bruises. If it's a machete or a torch, you need to catch the right end.

"When you do it every day, you get callouses," C.J. admitted. "I like to push myself."

C.J. got a glimpse into the profession of juggling last year when he performed with a Mexican circus, Circo Osorio.

He plans to make a career out of it once he graduates from high school, traveling around the world, with a home base in Las Vegas.

He said he often has to debunk myths surrounding juggling.

The first is that jugglers are clowns.

The worst, he said, is that eating an apple while juggling is a spectacular feat.

"If you're only juggling three balls, you can easily eat an apple," he said. "I guarantee you, I could teach anyone to do it in a week."


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