Jumping toward nationals Juneau Jumpers to strut their stuff Saturday

Posted: Friday, April 15, 2005

A whirling dervish of spinning rope and quick feet, the Juneau Jumpers jump-rope team will show off their moves this weekend.

The Jumpers will perform their final exhibition of the season Saturday at Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School. Saturday's shows kicks off at 5:30 p.m.

"It's a time for the kids to take the skills they learned all year and put them into a performance like when you have a recital with notes on a piano," Jumpers coach Paula Kalbrener said. "When you learn something, you want to showoff."

The Juneau Jumpers consist of 54 members ranging fromsecond graders to seniors in high school.

They compete in shows affiliated with the United States Amateur Jump Rope Federation and will send a cadre of 16 athletes to the U.S. Jump Rope National Age Division Championships held June 24-26 in Orlando, Fla. Athletes qualified for nationals after competing in March's regional competition held in Juneau.

"It's very strenuous," Kalbrener said. "It's a really good activity. It's a good sport that helps you with other sports. You work with your hand-eye coordination, where your body is in relation to your feet and space, what your eyes are doing, keeping on beat."

Jump rope competitions are highly organized events that go far beyond the school-yard or a prizefighter working out in the gym.

Jumpers are judged on speed and power both individually and in groups. Athletes must be able not only to jump one or two ropes at the same time, but to do it quickly and in different variations.

The result is a high-octane exhibition of precision and athleticism.

"I think it's a great sport and one of the most fun sports to coach," said assistant coach Randy Quinto. "I've coached baseball, football and track and jump rope has been the most fun."

The team carries eight coaches and many of the high school athletes serve as mentors to the smaller children.

Saturday's exhibition serves as the year-end finale for the elementary school kids and allows the older, most experienced athletes to see how their pupils picked up the routines.

"I think it's fun for them to see the time and effort they put in out there on the floor," Kalbrener said. "I think that's really rewarding for them. I think they really believe in their sport and to see it going on and on with a new generation is nice to see. They want the sport to keep going."

After Saturday's show, those who qualified for nationals will intensify their training in preparation for June's championships.

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