CALGARY – Competitive rope skipping might have winners and losers, but according to a few members of the Calgary Skip Squad, there are rarely hard feelings at the end of it all.
“It is competitive — but it’s not like other sports, where it’s competitive but you don’t want to talk to other people [after it’s done],” said Abby Beaudreau, a Calgary Skip Squad member who’s in Grade 8.
“(In) the sport of jump rope you get socialized. Everybody’s all friends. We just get along really nice,” she added, in an interview with CBC News.
Beaudreau is part of the competitive side of Skip Squad Calgary, one of three different rope-skipping clubs in Calgary, and one of a dozen across the province.
There’s also a recreational side of jump roping — for kids between six and 12-years-old — where all the double dutches, wheel events and triple unders are executed purely for fun and fitness.
However, for Skip Squad coach Carla Hill — who started as a Grade 3 student in Whitehorse, Yukon — jumping rope gave her an identity as she moved from one corner of the continent to another over the span of more than 30 years.
That journey took Hill from Whitehorse to participating as a Grade 5 student in the world championships in Juneau, Alaska, where her team finished second in the world, followed by the family relocating to Nova Scotia, then New Brunswick, before Hill, as an eight-year-old, headed west to Calgary, where she helped launch the Skip Squad — way back in 1989.
“So about 30 years,” Hill said.
What has she gotten out of jumping rope for close to four decades?
“Confidence. Self-esteem. Dedication. Hard work. Commitment. Physical exercise. Good for your heart. Great for your training. Great for your muscles and your bones. Great for building bone mass as well.
“Great for your friendships and travelling all over the world,” she added.
For Halle Borden, a Skip Squad team member, the appeal of rope jumping is as much emotional as it is physical.
“It’s a good way to interact with people, and because I’m home schooled, I don’t get the [same] socialization [opportunities] as school kids do — so skipping has given me friends that I wouldn’t otherwise have,” Borden said.
Skip jumping is still largely a volunteer-run sport, driven by the support of neighbourhood parents, but there has been thought given to finding a way for the sport to step up — namely, by becoming an Olympic sport, although the earliest that Rope Skipping Canada board chair Erin Gillespie (who also coaches the Connectivity Skippers of Leduc, Alta.) sees that happening is 2028 in Los Angeles.
In the meantime, Gillespie said in an August interview with the Canadian Press, competitive rope skipping will rise and fall on the energies of local clubs such as the Skip Squad.
“Rope Skipping Canada lacks the fundamental resources to promote the sport across the country, and so we’re really relying on clubs,” said Gillespie.
“But the clubs also don’t really have the resources to market and promote.”