Most student-athletes don’t have time to complain about being bored. They are too busy juggling classes, practice, games and a social life. But Summer Cooper is a juggler’s juggler. 

Cooper, who is often in the market for interesting hobbies, has taken up “joggling,” a combination of juggling and jogging, to go along with her loves of crocheting, knitting and playing chess. 

The style of joggling looks different from person to person, but her go-to objects to toss are small mesh balls because “they are easy to wash,” she said; and they do need to be washed, whether from falling on the ground time and time again to master that perfect arc, or due to the sweat that this physical activity induces. 

She recently attended the International Joggling Championship in South Bend, accompanied by Rustin Nyce, her coach. It took place in a large indoor facility, filled with others passionate about joggling. 

“It was fun to see her thrive on her own in a different team environment,” Nyce said. 

She placed first in all the races she competed in, which included the 400, the 800, the 4×100 and the 4×400, all in the women’s division, juggling every step of the way. 

She described her success as stemming from the fact that she is “a runner first,” whereas most others picked up the hobby out of the love of juggling, not jogging. 

Cooper is also helping to break down barriers for those that practice joggling. She said the participants at the event were mostly men; however, there was one woman there who had been the first to receive a joggling award at a competition like this one. 

“She was crying because of how happy she was at how many women showed up and there was like seven of us,” Cooper said. “She was just so happy.”

Cooper is interested in breaking records, including the world record mile time, currently set at 5:40. “I feel like I definitely can get the mile record,” Cooper said. She feels confident it’s achievable when she has more time, particularly between track and cross-country seasons. She would joggle on her own and then submit a video to the organization. 

She first got into joggling after Nyce showed her “a funny video of someone running and juggling.” She was juggling at practice and he thought she might enjoy it. She said, “He was joking about it, but I was like ‘I’m going to take that seriously.’” Nyce didn’t realize what he was starting when he showed her the video. “It was nice to see her be more independent and just be happy with her new environment, skill and hobby,” he said. 

Students on campus have also noticed her odd new pastime. Mia Graber, a senior accounting major, saw Cooper joggling outside the window during her auditing class. 

“It took me a second to realize what I was watching because it’s such an unexpected activity to see,” Graber said. However, she went on to explain that she was “very impressed by her stability, consistency and speed.” 

Graber also spoke to her skill, joking that “by the time I recognized who it was and what she was doing, she was gone!”

Cooper’s success in joggling comes largely from her accomplishments as a runner, which including holding the college’s record in the 4×800 relay in both indoor and outdoor track, the record for the distance medley team, nine national track qualifications and the top two spots for best all-time race by a freshman in women’s cross country with a top time of 18:43.4. She is also a two-time NAIA All-American. 

Not only is she successful on the track — she’s an integral part of the team culture as well. When considering how she holds on to who she is in spite of her accomplishments, Nyce said he doesn’t “think she knows how to be anybody else but herself, so the success comes because of who she is.”

According to Nyce, she elevates everyone around her. “She runs her best when she’s having fun, and when the others around her are having fun,” he said. “The competition and level of achievement isn’t as important to her as the fun she’s having when she’s doing it.”

She is also involved in athletics beyond her sport. She is a member of the Goshen College Athletic Student Association that gives “student-athletes … a voice by promoting a myriad of opportunities, including servant leadership while protecting the welfare and fostering a positive image to enhance the lives of GC student-athletes.”

She also represents GC at the Crossroads League as a member of the Association of Student-Athletes. 

Though winter is still a ways away, Cooper has already started joggling her practice trials, so the world record could very well be coming in the next few months.