Jump ropers earn spots at nationals

Monday, April 21, 2008

This isn't just a playground game. To the Jackson-based team Alpha-Omega Jumpers, jump rope is a competitive, fast-paced and rewarding sport -- and their ticket to Disney World.

Alpha-Omega formed in May 2006 with competitive jump rope in mind. The 10 members, ages 9 to 14, recently went to Texas for their first regional competition. Eight of the 10 members qualified to go to the National Jump Rope Tournament in Orlando, Fla.

"We were stunned," said Darla Beller, the coach of the team. Not only did members of the freshman team qualify, several of them qualified in multiple categories.

Beller formed a jump rope team as a way for homeschooled children like her son Tyler to have a physical education class.

"I used to live in the southeast and jump rope was huge," Beller said. When some of the jumpers expressed an interest in going competitive, they separated from the home-school team and formed the Alpha-Omega Jumpers.

The jumpers compete in single rope events like double and triple unders, where participants pass the rope under the feet two or three times in one jump, and speed jump, where the jumper is almost hunched over and looks like they are marching.

"Our kids jumped anywhere from 210 to 270 to 280 [times] a minute," Beller said.

Eight of the 10 team members qualified for different events, and some qualified for two and three events each. Along with the single rope events are pairs freestyle and Double Dutch events that can incorporate numerous jumpers.

"It's good because in a little Double Dutch team you can have three to four jumpers at different levels," Beller said. "It's really kind of neat to watch how the kids learn to cooperate with each other."

The competitions, camps and workshops the children go to are sanctioned by the not-for-profit organization U.S.A. Jump Rope, formed in 1995 when two separate national jump rope organizations combined.

charris@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 246

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