I recently attended the AAU Junior Olympics in Hampton, Virginia. The Junior Olympics is a competition for thousands of athletes up to age 22. There are over 15 events in the Junior Olympics including sport (cup) stacking, gymnastics, wrestling, weight lifting, and my favorite (because it is my sport) jump roping. In jump rope, over 200 kids represented teams from the United States and Canada. There were three teams from Colorado this year. The Colorado teams include the Claim Jumpers (Littleton, CO), the Jumping Eagles, (Littleton, CO – the team I was on!), and the Mad Hops (Louisville, CO). “L” cities seem to be jump rope cities!
Jump ropers compete in many events including speed and freestyle for single, pairs, and double-dutch teams. Speed is how many jumps you can do in a minute and freestyle is a 1-minute routine to music that you put a lot of jump tricks into. Some jumpers broke jump rope records. For example, Tori Boggs (Jump Company USA, WV) and Becky Nelson (Jumping Eagles) tied to break the Junior Olympic Jump Rope record for female 1 minute, single-rope power, age 18-22, with 212 jumps. The previous record was 204 jumps. A power jump is when you jump once and swing the rope under yourself twice. My favorite event to watch is the double-dutch. It is a team interaction and I enjoy watching teams jump together. There are 3-5 people on a double-dutch team.
I interviewed Jim McCleary, the AAU Jump Rope Chairman. He has been involved in jump roping for 32 years! He is the coach for Kangaroo Kids, a team from Maryland. His favorite part about jump rope is all of the kids! His favorite memories are of his own kids competing.
When not jumping, the athletes trade pins with each other. The goal is to try and get one pin from each team. You can also trade to collect rare pins such as older pins from teams that no longer exist or from past events. A fun part about trading the pins is getting to meet other kids.
This was an experience I’ll always remember!