2016 Michigan Tech Magazine: Issue 2

Up in the Air

By Shannon Rinkinen

Meet Bob and Trish Evans. Facebook fans know them as @BobandTrishJuggling. On social media you’ll see them swuggling (that’s swimming while juggling), joggling (that’s jogging while juggling), and acro-juggling (Google it!). Sometimes they add pyrotechnics, knives, or their niece Kayla. Off digital devices, they’re a pair of Michigan Tech alumni and former Husky athletes committed to living fully, loving truly, and writing their own story—all with three or more balls in the air.

Nerdy Cool and Crazy Smart

Bob Evans '07 and Trish (Weyandt) Evans '08 first met in 2003 as student-athletes at Michigan Tech. Trish studied math for secondary education and competed in cross country and Nordic skiing, while Bob majored in psychology and physical education and played basketball. Their first date? A four-hour hike to Hungarian Falls. "Between sports and classes, we didn't have much free time, so for a while we just met up on Sunday afternoons," Bob recalls. During that first Keweenaw trek, the couple discussed what their courtship might look like and agreed to postpone a first kiss until marriage.

Trish in college during a cross country meet and Bob shooting a basketball in his Huskies jersey.
Trish worked as a campus tour guide back in 2005. "I still remember the facts I shared with prospective families. It's a thrill to see the female population grow and to hear about the new majors and programs.

And so began a partnership and journey equal parts intentional and adventurous.

"At Michigan Tech, we were part of two different worlds—in sports we were labeled cool, but I definitely felt at home in the math department," Trish says. "We've always been that paradoxical mix of nerdy and cool," Bob affirms.

Love at First Juggle

After graduation, with newfound free time and inspiration from friends, the pair picked up juggling. They searched for partner juggling instructions online and gained enough skills to perform at their own wedding in 2007. Partner juggling, Bob says, is a form of pre-marriage counseling: "It brings out the best and the worst in people. It's easy to get frustrated and place blame on your significant other."

Bob and Trish soon landed teaching jobs in Arizona. Their time in the Southwest was spent teaching, juggling, and performing—some of their very first shows as a duo. After a few years, and a lot of training, it was time to write another chapter.

Dreaming to Doing

They quit their teaching jobs to embark on a "travel year," visiting every state except Alaska, Hawaii, and Nevada. During this "dreaming to doing" challenge, they became the first people to juggle three balls through an entire triathlon. There was only one problem with the Bob and Trish USA Tour: money ran dry.

So they did what any millennial would do—they Googled "travel and make money." One of the top options: "teaching English in South Korea."

And so that's what Bob and Trish did next.

Trish balancing upside-down by her shoulders on Bob's feed while he juggles red balls.
"It's relaxed concentration in the midst of chaos."

Houghton, as it turns out, planted the seed for the couple's international travels. "I grew up in a town smaller than Houghton in Northern Wisconsin—when I went to Tech it was the first time I met people from other countries. It was also the first time I had African American friends," Trish says.

South Korea. The Philippines. Bali. Tokyo. Hong Kong. And eventually planting roots in Thailand.

"We fell in love with Thai life—it's out of our comfort zones and so multicultural," Bob says. "Our food palates have been awakened," Trish adds. "It's crazy to think I can now go almost anywhere in the world and meet up with a friend!"

The couple uses their summer breaks from teaching as an opportunity to reconnect with family back in the States and perform their juggling act in towns across the Midwest, including Houghton in 2015 and Marquette in 2016. "We use our talent as an excuse to travel. It's a thrill to bring high-level circus skills to a small town," Bob says. "In the beginning our families were like 'OMG! You're on TV,' but they adapted as we have. I think more than anything they are curious to learn how our story unfolds as we think about our next goal—starting a family," Trish says.

So what is it about juggling that applies to life? "It's relaxed concentration in the midst of chaos. Trying to keep nine balls in the air, you have to remain focused, but calm. Life is chaotic, but it's best to remain calm," Bob says.

What advice do Bob and Trish have for future jugglers? "The first step to being good at a skill is sucking at the skill," Trish says. "It's more doable than you think. We might look like magicians, but it's very methodical. Start with one ball—or no ball—and take baby steps."

The couple's life motto: "Don't be afraid to do hard things."

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 60 countries around the world. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our beautiful campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.