Left to right: Jeff (from Houston, Texas), Lee (Boise, Idaho), Mike (Akron, Ohio) and Nick (Houston). Photo courtesy John Fletcher/USAJR.
This past weekend, 15 of the best jumpers from around the country descended on Los Angeles for California's first-ever USA Jump Rope All-Star Workshop. On Friday, they did 4 performances at Santa Monica public schools and a Boys and Girls Club; on Saturday, they taught about 100 kids how to improve their skills; and on Sunday, JUMP! screened at the Monica Laemmle movie theater to an audience of 150+ people. Before and after the screening, the jumpers performed outside of the theater and got loads of bystanders to participate...until the police asked us to stop.
One of the first questions in the post-screening Q&A was for Lee: "Do you have a girl friend yet?" His answer: "Nope." But he did recently graduate first in his class with a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Boise State University. He's hoping to put his brain and his brawn to good use as an jumper for Cirque du Soliel. We're rooting for him.
Marian & John from USAJR and Nikki Jackson, founder of the new Santa Monica-based Jump Squad and co-host of the All-Star weekend, deserve big props for making this event happen. After seeing JUMP! last summer at the Los Angeles Film Festival, Nikki -- whom I had never met before that screening -- said that jump rope had changed her life; she had recently lost 130 lbs thru jumping and was committed to helping to fight childhood obesity. She decided to quit her day job and start an after-school jump rope enrichment program. Her plan worked and quickly expanded to several local schools. No doubt Nikki will help get a few great new teams going strong in So Cal.
Of the weekend, Nikki said: "The results of our collaboration have proven to be very successful it has had an amazing impact on my immediate community. The sport of jump rope gives its participants a great sense of confidence, discipline, fun, physical fitness, leadership, inspiration and determination. Personally, I'm rejuvenated and and inspired in a tremendous way. Witnessing the transformational effects of our efforts on the faces and in the hearts of the children and adults we impacted this weekend is truly rewarding and provides the necessary fuel to move full speed ahead." Go get 'em Nikki!