This summer I had the chance to interview a nearby neighbor that my kid absolutely loves. Bob and his wife Trish are yet another example of why I love living in Iron River. While Jake hasn’t decided to take up circus tricks, it was really cool to do this story. You can also see it in the September issue of Bottom Line News and Views.
If you happened to drive by the Iron River Community Center on a Thursday morning this summer you might have been momentarily confused that the circus was in-town. That’s because a multi-world record juggling champion was busy teaching the next generation a series of circus tricks.
Bob Evans holds seven Guinness Book of World Record championships for various juggling accomplishments including most juggles while swimming five and four balls, fastest mile forward and backwards while bounce-juggling three basketballs and some others that involve things like golf balls and feet. He’s currently preparing for his latest record-breaking attempt by fastest mile running backwards on a track while juggling multiple objects. If successful, it could mean an additional 4 World Records. He hopes to accomplish this later this fall.
What makes Evans unique is his desire to share this passion with others. Evans played college basketball at Michigan Tech. When that finished he had a lot of time on his hands and energy to burn.
“One of my friends was a juggler and taught me. I was almost immediately addicted. I enjoyed doing it,” he says. He quickly learned that the best way to excel, was to practice daily. As his skillset grew, so did his desire to share his love of juggling with others.
“It was within a month after I learned how to juggle that I started teaching it at an after-school program. Wherever I’ve been since, I’ve tried to have a youth juggling group,” he says.
Bob would go on to meet his wife Trish at Michigan Tech who also loved juggling and acrobats. Together, the two would teach not only stateside but also teach English overseas in places like South Korea and Thailand. When they weren’t teaching, they competed in various competitions or performed in various shows, including America’s Got Talent. Their passion for the sport is genuine and can be seen on their YouTube channel which features annual Christmas Videos filled with hilarious tricks that now their kids are even starting to participate in.
Last year, the couple moved to Iron River so Trish could be closer to her parents. Bob immediately set-out to set another World Record at the annual Blueberry Festival on Moon Lake in Iron River. Soon, he was teaching kids at the local daycare basic juggling tricks. A chance encounter with a family at the local library led to the start of the Northwoods Circus.
Rachel Lintula home schools 13-year old Jael and 11-year old Malachi. After meeting Bob, the family started meeting up with the Evans family to learn tricks. Jael has found her passion on the acro side while Malachi prefers juggling. For Rachel, she’s having fun trying something new.
“Bob is really great. It is fun to learn a new skill and to do something I couldn’t do before. To be able to do tricks as an older person,” she laughs. “My goal is to get to juggling four balls.”
Meantime, Malachi has mastered three and Jael is busy contorting her body into poses such as the Candlestick and Bird.
Soon, other families were joining the group, which eventually grew into the Northwoods Circus. Up to a dozen kids would be practicing their circus skills on any given Thursday.
Ten-year old Nathan Greatsinger was one of these kids.
He’s mastered over 200 throws and practices daily. He hopes by the end of the summer to master 5 balls but can also juggle rings, swords and torches. This comes with daily practice. But it isn’t the juggling he loves most.
“I really love hanging out with my friends and learning new stuff,” he says.
Bob ultimately hopes every kid has an opportunity to experience during his weekly circus adventures. The summer classes have come to a close but he’s busy figuring out how to grow the classes this coming school year and hopefully incorporate additional families into the fold.
“As a teacher, I always tell kids – if you can learn how to learn, then that’s your greatest skill. You can apply that to anything you want in life. This is a good way to see that process. It doesn’t come easily to anyone,” he explains. But ultimately, with practice, there is a big payoff.
Greatsinger agrees. He started the summer off convinced he’d never be able to juggle. Now, he knows differently and wants others kids to know the same.
“I would tell them, that’s why I thought until I tried and then I realized I could do it and so can they if they try.”
Bob Evans hopes to start up another Circus Class this fall. Follow northwoodscircus.com for details. To see him in action, check out his YouTube channel at: https://www.youtube.com/c/bobandtrishjuggling.