Students participate in local competitive jumprope team

Troy Pierson, Business Manager

A teeming crowd fills the green, black and white bleachers of Highland High School’s gymnasium. On one side, a group of spectators sit with anticipation. The other side features a group of around thirty children, from fourth grade to their senior year of high school stretching and preparing movements for events unknown to many audience members; terms such as speed, Star Wars, traveling, double and triple-unders describe some of the acts of the Heartbeat’s first annual community show.

Hailing from Medina, Ohio, the Heartbeats jump rope team consists of competitive group of individuals who perform a wide variety of jump roping activities, from single events to team routines. A major part of the Heartbeats program includes the opportunity to travel to locations all around the United States and the world for different competitions. Heartbeats coach Pam Evans elaborated on the Heartbeats’ past experience with traveling to different places to compete.

“Competition is our major focus.  We focus on qualifying for [the] USAJR national tournament and have won numerous championships.  We have also medaled at International competitions in the US, Canada, England, Australia, Belgium and South Africa,” Evans said.

To bring more jumpers into the program, the Heartbeats perform in a number of community shows at high schools in the local area. Revere junior and jumper Katelin Hendricks reminisces on the time she and fellow Revere junior Sydney Flynn attended a show, which prompted them to join the team.

“Me and Syd went to a show . . . about three years before we started jumping. At our shows, we do audience participation, which is . . . on-stage [and] the audience comes up and jumps. . . . They picked us to go up on stage, and it sparked us and we wanted to do it, so we started taking classes and we ended up being pretty good,” Hendricks said.

The opportunity to travel and compete also means the opportunity to bond with fellow jumpers. Flynn has participated with the team for six years. She elaborated on her favorite aspect of participating with the team.

“[The most exciting part of jump roping with the team is] the experience of sharing it with all the people on my team. You learn to become best friends with them because you spend so much time with them like any other sporting group. We also have to travel a lot, and [I like] that I meet people from other teams and we become good friends. It’s nice to have friends all over,” Flynn said.

A staple event of the Heartbeats’ season is the opportunity to jump in the Macy’s Day Thanksgiving Parade in New York City. Evans provided details on how the Heartbeats received the invitation to attend.

“I applied to have us in the parade in 2008.  At that time, we just took twenty five Heartbeats.  In 2009, we took jumpers from all over the United States and had about 200 jumpers.  We then did the same thing in 2013 and 2015. Macy’s loves having us perform. However, they have to have different performance groups each year.  As soon as they can use jump rope in the parade, they contact me and I put it all together,” Evans said.

As part of the Macy’s Day Parade, the Heartbeats learn certain special routines to perform alongside the other floats and groups.. Hendricks described the preparation for the event.

“[The Macy’s Day Parade] was a  2.3 mile parade route, and you have to jump rope the entire thing. At the end [of the parade], you do [a] one minute live performance for tv, jumproping that too, and then you have to run out of that to a certain spot where we all meet up together. You have to practice all year for that. We practice at the Wellness Center, going around the track. We would go around it and we would work up our endurance to get up to one mile then two mile; then we went up to three miles to make sure we could do the whole two miles.

Flynn and Hendrick’s progression with the Heartbeats over the years has resulted in a keen sense of understanding in the sport. Strongsville juniors and Heartbeats jump roper Kayla Manney described the two’s examples on the team.

“[Sydney and Katelin] are both good under pressure . . . [and] they don’t crack under pressure. They play an active role in the team,” Manney said.

The crowd roars with excitement as the Heartbeats perform their rituals, the ropes skipping in tandem to the beat of the music. The smiling faces of jumpers young and old as they perform their impressive routines gives the impression the Heartbeats provides a positive environment for any jumper.