Seventeen boys and girls from the Mesa-based Arizona Velocity jump-rope team will go to Des Moines, Iowa, to participate in a national tournament that will test their strength, speed and creativity.
The Amateur Athletic Union Junior Olympic Games will have hundreds of kids competing in a number of different jump-roping events, said Arizona Velocity coach Janice Rodrigue of Chandler.
Arizona Velocity is the competition team for Just Jump, a program started in 1998 by Rodrigue, a former physical education teacher.
The club that began with 15 jumpers has grown to more than 400 kids in after-school programs at seven schools throughout Mesa, Chandler and Tempe, Rodrigue said.
"I didn’t realize it’d catch on so much," she said.
The competition jumpers, ranging in age from 7 to 20, have been training and practicing five times a week for the past two months leading up to the weeklong tournament, which begins July 31, Rodrigue said.
Despite the heavy practice regimen, those in the program are encouraged to do a lot more than jump-rope.
"I think it’s important that they do the community service," said Beth Malone of Chandler, who has two daughters on the competition team.
Jump-ropers in the program put on assemblies at schools regarding health and fitness, volunteer for the Salvation Army and help raise funds for the American Cancer Society, Rodrigue said.
The club has been recognized for its community involvement on several occasions, including consecutive performances at the Fiesta Bowl Parade and the annual Chicago Thanksgiving Day Parade, Rodrigue said.
Among the athletes who will compete at the tournament is Kristin Heumann, 19, who has been jumping rope as part of a team since she was 5, she said.
"It’s my passion," said the Corona del Sol graduate who will study physical education this fall at Northwestern College in Iowa.
Over the years, Heumann has participated in more than 30 tournaments and won multiple medals, she said.
"It’s the best time you’ll ever have, and it’ll help you with any sport you do," Heumann said.
Find out more
For more information about Just Jump and Arizona Velocity, visit www.justjump.info or call Janice Rodrigue at (480) 963-3481.
- Adam Stern