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Rope Skippers jumpin’ to Nationals this week
Team hopes to earn several spots at Grand Nationals.
Making an appearance at the U.S. National Jump Rope Championships has become the norm for the Bainbridge Island Rope Skippers over the years.
This week, eight members of the team – sisters Molly and Abigail Harrison, Lizzy and Sarah Sharman, Hannah Sprague, Anna Warga, Amanda Stevenson and Emily Applewhite – are in Galveston, Tex., in an attempt to bring home some ribbons and medal,s and hopefully compete in the Grand Nationals on Sunday.
Head coach Julie Leachman, a personal trainer, is in her second tour of duty in coaching the Rope Skippers. She coached from 1997 to 2000 – her oldest daughter was on the team and won at Nationals – then left for a few years before returning in 2007.
“These are about the greatest athletes I’ve ever worked with in any sport,” she said. “(Plus) it’s just fun.”
When Leachman went back to school last year, Lizzy, who has been with the Rope Skippers for 10 years, helped coach the girls when Leachman could not make it to practice.
“I think it’s easy to be a coach when you have the experience and you know the choreography and you’re used to doing it,” Lizzy said. “But at the same time I was still performing with them so ordering them around didn’t go too well sometimes.”
“But it worked out (with Lizzy in charge),” Leachman said.
The eight also get a workout during practice trying to learn their routines to make sure they don’t make mistakes.
The team practices two hours a day, five days a week. Sharman said team members work a lot outside practice as well, especially when they can find a open gym somewhere.
With up to a dozen judges watching the performers for any misstep in their routines, it can be physically and mentally exhausting.
“We’ve upped our difficulty, which is more exciting, but there’s a chance for way more mistakes,” Sharman said. “Our team is pretty good at presentation as opposed to other teams who do all the hard tricks and just hope they nail it.”
John Becerra Jr./Staff Photos
(Above, L-R) Abigail Harrison, Sarah Sharman, Molly Harrison and Emily Applewhite work on a routine during practice last week.