Jumping rope and signing books

Not at the same time.

Meg’s hobby, sport, passion and biggest pastime these days is jump rope. When members of her precision jump rope team, the Kangaroo Kids learned that we’d written a book together, they invited us to hold a book signing during the group’s annual Holiday Hop. I’d really like for people to come out to the event this Saturday from 12-4 p.m. at the Glenwood Community Center in Cooksville, Maryland. But I don’t care if anyone buys our book. I want people to come see what these kids can do with a jump rope.

No longer just a casual playground hobby, jump rope has developed into a serious competitive sport as well as a creative performing art. Meg first saw the Kangaroo Kids perform about five years ago at a half time show during a UMBC basketball game and she was entranced, especially by the group’s use of props. As soon as she came home, she tried to jump rope in the living room while bouncing on a giant exercise ball. This was not a safe idea either for her or the furniture.

She had to learn to jump rope outside. Without a ball.

The next year, she joined the group and started learning how to add fancy footwork. The following year, she started performing some elementary routines to music and learning more about how to manipulate the rope and do the footwork and rope moves while getting high enough in the air so the rope would go under her feet two times before she landed. (That’s a “double under”)

Now she’s learning tricks that I don’t even understand and the rope often goes so fast that I can tell if it’s a double or triple under only by the sound it makes.

And her skills are really still only at the intermediate level.

We went to a workshop last weekend hosted by the Comet Skippers in Ohio. They brought in expert jumpers from six different countries and when they combined forces at the end to put on a show, it was the type of event where your jaw gets bruised from hitting the floor so often. Amazing stuff.

Teams from different countries often focus on different jumping skills and events and compete with different standards than the teams in the US. In the hopes of making the sport eligible for Olympic competition, a group of coaches is putting together an event this summer that will hopefully forge a set of rules for international competition that every country can agree on, so the sport will have a truly international base. You can find information about that event at www.worldjumprope.org.

In the meantime, if you happen to be in central Maryland on Saturday, stop by the Glenwood Center and join the fun at the Holiday Hop. You’ll see beginning jumpers show off their new skills, as well as routines and tricks performed by Meg and her teammates with more experience. You’ll get to see Meg jump rope on her hoppity hop (I still won’t let her do it in the living room) They’ve even taught Santa to jump. The event is free and open to the public. Everyone is asked to bring nonperishable food donations to support those in need this holiday season.

Meg and I will be there and when she’s not jumping and I’m not coaching, we’ll be hanging out with Toto (or at the refreshment table). We will be raffling a basket of Toto’s Tale-related gifts. All proceeds from the raffle and book sales will go to support the Kangaroo Kids program.

The Kangaroo Kids teach fitness for all ages through the sport of jump rope. You should see what it’s done for Santa! So jump in and join us.

What: Holiday Hop

When: Saturday, December 11 from 12-4 p.m. (shows are scheduled to begin at 12:30 and 2:30 p.m.)

Where: Glenwood Community Center, 2400 Rt. 97, Cooksville, MD 21723

If you can’t make it, check out the Kangaroo Kids online at www.kangarookids.org

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