Will Silvers attended his very first juggling competition earlier this month.

And he made the most of it.

The 14-year-old from Cumberland — who began juggling two years ago and is mostly self-taught — won the World Juggling Federation’s Junior Competition in Springfield, Ill., held July 5-10.

“Winning this competition means Will demonstrated the highest level of technical difficulty with the best form and fewest errors,” said Jason Garfield, president of the World Juggling Federation.

Will’s mother, Kate Silvers, wasn’t surprised that her son became good at juggling in a short period of time. He’s an advanced-level pianist, plays tenor sax and has shown he’s good at developing his skills. But she was surprised, at least a little, that in two years he has become good enough to beat competitors from all over the world.

“The hard part for Will is, not many people juggle the way he does,” his mother said. “There aren’t a lot of outlets like this for jugglers, so for him to go there the first time and win, it was great.”

Will, who is going into his freshman year at Greely High School, was taught to juggle by a friend. He has continued to get better with the help of instructional DVDs and videos on YouTube.

He said he felt comfortable at the competition because it was all about technical merits. There was no juggling of sticks on fire, or bowling balls, or telling jokes while you juggle.

The WJF competition — where jugglers use clubs, rings and balls — was all about technical moves that involve body movement and the rotation or stillness of the objects being thrown.

One of Will’s “tricks” involved throwing the object in the air while his hand is behind his back, then catching it in front of his body. Another involves throwing balls in the air, spinning 180 degrees before catching them, then throwing balls again and spinning 360 degrees before catching.

“The more technical stuff is up my alley,” Will said. “You can add more objects, or do lower or higher throws. But there’s no telling jokes, it’s not about performance.”

To qualify for the competition, Will had to submit a video of himself doing his routine, along with a list of tricks, what music he’d play, what he would wear and a host of other information. Once he got admitted to the competition, held at the WJF convention, he competed in the junior division with six other jugglers who were all 15 or under. He won a $100 prize.

Will says he will continue to juggle and compete in other events. He said he’d like to go back to the WJF event next year, and he’s already working on raising money for the trip. He also had performed his juggling routine for schools and birthday parties, and plans to do more.

And he hopes to keep getting better.

“I guess the reason I like it is (that) I like seeing myself get better, seeing the progress I’ve made and not being satisfied,” he said.

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

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