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Go Ask Mom

The sport of jump rope builds more than muscles

Posted April 29, 2012 8:32 p.m. EDT
Updated April 30, 2012 7:35 p.m. EDT

When I was a kid, as far as I knew, jump roping was something my friends and I did on the sidewalk after school.

But for many kids in the Triangle, it's their passion and sport. The region is a hotbed for jump roping with several large programs. Some kids spend hours after school each week practicing. And many travel around the country to compete. They're jumping over a rope, of course, but they also are doing hand stands, flips and jumping with multiple partners at the same time. Their speed and agility is pretty amazing to watch.

"Their fitness level is very high," said Carolyn Hoggarth, chairman of the Tri-Force Jump Rope Booster Club and "team mom."

I met up with Hoggarth and Michelle Zimmerman at Tri-Force in Morrisville, one of several jump rope gyms in the region. Hoggarth's two daughters are on Tri-Force's competition team. Zimmerman has two kids on its competition team and one on its recreation team.

Shay Perez and her son Tyler Perez are the gym's co-owners. Shay got involved in the sport when Tyler joined another local team at age 8. She eventually became a coach. The two started their own program in 2004. Three seasons ago, they moved into their own gym off Aviation Parkway.

The sport of jump roping has taken Tyler, now in his 20s, far. He is a former member of the U.S. All Star Jump Rope Team and 2006 Team USA, which competed at the Worlds Championship in Canada. He appeared in the movie "Jump In!" on the Disney Channel. And he was part of the jump rope team Saltare, which performed on "Randy Jackson's America's Best Dance Crew" on MTV a couple of years ago.

Hoggarth and Zimmerman say the sport has many benefits for their kids. It's great physical activity, but it's also taught their kids leadership skills and boosted self confidence.

Hoggarth's girls, who have been skipping for years now, are captains on their team, work with younger members and have traveled around the country to teach other teams. Kids of all ages practice and perform together.

"What's nice is we all jump together," Hoggarth said. "It's ability. It's not how old you are."

Zimmerman said her 11-year-old son is thriving in the program.

"It's definitely great for his self esteem," she said.

Kids as young as age five can begin in Tri-Force's recreational classes. The gym also offers summer camps, track-out programs and birthday parties. The first class is free.

Tri-Force is organizing a day-long workshop in May featuring top jump rope athletes from the USA All-Stars. It's 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., May 19, at North Raleigh Christian Academy. The fee is $50. It's best for ages 6 and up and is designed for all skill levels.

Pre-registration is required. For details about the workshop and Tri-Force's programs, go to Tri-Force's website.

For more, watch my interview with Hoggarth and Zimmerman.

And for a taste of competitive jump roping, check out Austin Casselbury, a 13-year-old from Wendell, and Sarah Brescia, a 13-year-old from Cary, perform their pairs routine in this video. The two have been jump roping together for three years.

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