EUGENE, Ore. -- Leah Holland is an 18-year-old student at the University of Oregon. She’s an English major, but her hobbies don’t resemble that of your average college student.
Born and raised in Eugene, Ore., Holland has grown into a lover of the eccentric. Even though she doesn’t juggle, she is the captain of the University of Oregon’s juggling club.
“I really enjoy what I do with the juggling club,” she said. “I’m an object manipulator, which is the blanket term for it. I spin poi and I hoola hoop.”
Holland’s main focus is spinning poi, which is the art of taking a ball on a chain and spinning it in various patterns around one’s body. Often the balls are lit on fire.
“It’s kind of scary,” she said. “You’re afraid you might let them go and hit yourself or maybe someone else.”
Nevertheless, spinning poi is exhilarating, she says. Even more so when you’re performing, she said, which is something she’s done for as many as 40,000 people at the Burning Man festival in Nevada.
“Overall, there is this huge feeling of exhilaration,” she said. “It sounds like you’re standing in front of a huge fan but it is oscillating back and forward.”
Ryan Knutson is a journalist and student at the University of Oregon. He worked at the Oregon Daily Emerald for nearly four years. He has interned at The Oregonian. Last summer, he lived in Ghana and worked as a news intern at The Daily Graphic.