Spectators called the exhibition jump rope show phenomenal, climaxing the day-long annual Heart Throbbers jump rope workshop and competition on Saturday.
The show was “absolutely great. I came to support my granddaughters and to see this magnificent group of jumpers,” Junior Steel, of New Chapel Hill, said. “They do things I didn't believe you could do with a jump rope.”
Jerry Hammons, of Montgomery, who brought his son, Jake, 9, to participate in the workshop, called the exhibition show by workshop staff “very impressive.”
Darlene Taylor, of Tyler, whose granddaughter is a member of the Heart Throbbers, said she loved the competition and exhibition.
“I thought it was exciting and very dynamic in the way that they all performed. The skills they have are really amazing and I think a lot of people aren't aware of the jump roping phenomena they have here,” Ms. Taylor said.
Robbin Hunt, of Tyler, brought her three grandsons to the jump rope competition and exhibition. “They don't know the pleasure of jump roping, so I was trying to expose them all to it. This was an excellent way to do it,” she said.
Ms. Hunt described the exhibition show as a “fantastic” performance by both girls and boys of all ages. “Whether they made a mistake or not, they got back up there and kept jumping,” she observed.
Approximately 230 jumpers from all over Texas and Louisiana, and even a girl who flew in from New York, participated in the workshop, Ms. Berg, the Heart Throbbers' coach, estimated.
The youngest jumper was 4 or 5 and there were adult jumpers. The staff comprised older jumpers from the seventh grade and up, some in their 20s.
Teams and individuals learned tricks and jumped for health, exercise and fun. Forty adults also trained to be judges, since competition will start in the spring and a national competition will be this summer.
“We want (participants) to learn lots of jump rope skills,” Ms. Berg said. “They love to meet each other; they meet their friends from other teams. They learn skills. They learn how to put skills together.”
It takes dedication and a love of the sport to be a rope jumper, Ms. Berg said. Jump roping is probably the least inexpensive sport and it takes as much practice as a jumper wants to put into it, she said.
“You get out of it what you put into it. It's a love,” Ms. Berg added.
Workshop participants learned to do jumps with a single rope and with a partner. They learned tricks like double Dutch involving two ropes jumped to alternate beats. “They do lots of tricks and gymnastics in the ropes,” Ms. Berg said.
Shaun Hamilton, of Centerville, Ohio, has been coming to the workshop for years. “I help manage the staff and make sure everyone is in their proper place and make sure the participants get the value they came to get and learn as many skills as they can, but also have fun and fellowship and a good time,” Hamilton said.
A skill that is taught to beginners is the criss cross. Instead of jumping with arms open outside the body, the jumper's arms literally cross, creating a loop and the body jumps through the loop.
Van Hassell, a jumper and a teacher, said, “I like the creativity and I like the team. We have a good time together.” He started jumping rope in second grade and now is 17.
Young jumper Lauren McClintock, of Tyler, said she started jumping recently because “it sounded fun.”
Katherine Adams, of Tyler, 10, recently got back into jumping after stopping for awhile. “I do it because it's fun and it's exercising and it's a way to stay active. It helps you stay fit,” she said. “I like it because you get to learn a bunch of tricks and stuff that you wouldn't learn at school or anywhere else.”
She said she can do a single rope, criss-crosses, and side saddles and is really good at the wheel, a trick that involves two people and two ropes. “It is kind of complicated, but it's actually really easy once you get the hang of it,” she said.