It’s 9:30 a.m. Saturday, April 2, and athletes from across the country gather in the depths of Phillips Hall at Miami University.
These student athletes from Ohio State University, University of Notre Dame and even Stanford University have trained for months or years, honing their craft in rigorous choreographed events. Now, crowds gather on the sidelines to cheer them on as judges score their skills.
Miami’s Jump Rope club organized the 2022 University Jump Rope Summit with the National Collegiate Jump Rope Association.
The competitive programs started early Saturday morning. First, participants competed in a speed event where jumpers were rated on how many times they could jump in a certain amount of time.
Next were the freestyle competitions. The events were split into two parts: solo and Double Dutch.
In the solo freestyle event, jumpers competed two at a time, taking 30 seconds to demonstrate their moves to pairs of judges.
Competitors’ routines wooed the audience. Jumpers twirled the ropes around themselves like modern cowboys. Others did handstands and cartwheels while still maintaining control over their jump ropes.
One competitor sat on the ground and jumped over her rope as she spun it around the floor.
Bridget Kelley, a senior at Notre Dame, has been jumping with her school for four years. She said she’s a novice jumper, but she was impressed by the other competitors.
“I participated and it was a lot of fun, but didn’t go super well for me,” Kelley said. “But getting to watch all the experienced people was incredible. They’re all just insane.”
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Sam Ferraro, another four-year Notre Dame jumper, was blown away by the routines.
“There were so many tricks I didn’t even know existed,” Ferraro said. “It just reminded me how much jump rope allows for that kind of creativity.”
For the Double Dutch portion of the competition, two team members each hold one end of two ropes. A third person stands between and jumps as the teammates swing the ropes around.
Working as a team, jumpers perform tricks similar to the solo freestyle events. In some routines, jumpers switched places with spinners while still maintaining non-stop movement. Other teams had one or both of the spinners jump while still controlling the ropes. At one point, a jumper leapt over a spinner’s back to begin the routine.
Aaron Gao, a high-school jumper who volunteered to judge, said he enjoyed the variety of routines during the competition.
“It’s always cool seeing the different types of styles that everyone brings out to the floor and just seeing all the creativity that the sport of jump rope really brings to people,” Gao said.
Denali Selent, a junior general engineering and environmental science major at Miami, came to watch her friend Emma, who is part of Miami’s jump rope team. She said she enjoyed the new experience.
“I’ve never seen anyone jump rope competitively,” Selent said. “It’s definitely very cool, something I could never do, so it’s very fun to watch.”
For the competitions, Miami scored second overall, losing to the University of North Carolina.
On Sunday, the schools held a workshop to learn and share skills with each other. Students worked with people outside their organizations. Jared Perkins, vice president of Miami Jump Rope and a sophomore psychology major, stressed the importance of this opportunity to collaborate.
“Jump roping isn’t easy,” Perkins said. “When you’re learning tricks like this, you’re going to make a lot of mistakes, and when you have people that you don’t even know just cheering you on for it and trying to get this certain trick, it makes you want to get better and keep trying.”
Perkins added that the workshop separated jump rope from most sports.
“It’s a lot more friendly than other sports because in some sports you don’t talk to other teams,” Perkins said. “What went on this weekend was a lot of learning … and meeting a lot of new people.”
Ally Astles, a jump rope coach and a senior studying math education, founded Miami Jump Rope four years ago when she arrived on campus. Miami Jump Rope started as an organization before it was recognized as a club sport a year later.
Astles has been jumping since first grade. She started competing with the Comet Skippers in Mason, Ohio.
Astles’ entire family is involved in the worldwide jump rope community. Astles said jump rope has allowed them to travel to places such as Germany, Paris and Prague, but one place sticks out to her.
“I have been to Bermuda four times,” Astles said. “It’s my favorite place in the world. Jump rope is a nationally-recognized sport in Bermuda … so they’ll fly us out and have us teach new tricks and teach groups of students for their after-school programs.”
This weekend, all of Astles’ family members helped with the competition.
“We travel the world, teaching and jumping,” Astles said. “My dad is out there running the floor at competitions, and my mom’s in charge of all of the food, and my sister was judging, and my brother is doing time tracks. I dragged them all here to make it a family affair.”
Astles said the competition will have a large impact on the recognition of jump roping.
“Jump rope is really a developing sport,” Astles said. “They’re eventually trying to get it into the Olympics, but first we have to grow it at the collegiate level.”
Astles also shared what makes jump roping so unique.
“You can always learn something new,” Astles said. “Jump rope is so limitless. There’s always something to be learned, something that someone else is doing that they want to teach you.”
Miami Jump Rope meets two to three times a week for two hours. Taylor Black, the president of Miami Jump Rope and a sophomore majoring in kinesiology and premedical studies, shared that the club is open to students of all skill levels.
“Anyone can join,” Black said. “We have people on our team that started jumping six months ago and are here competing. Don’t be scared or nervous to try and just come. You will learn something, and it’s just a great way to get active and meet a great group of people.”