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Club jumpstarts physical activity, community building

| Monday, January 27, 2020

Jump rope hasn’t always been a familiar sport for junior Ellis Riojas, but upon coming to Notre Dame, he decided to try something new and join the Jump Rope Club.

Now, three years later, Riojas serves as the president of the team and says that although jump rope is an obscure sport, it has greatly impacted him. 

“I never had an outlet for working out that I enjoyed. Whether it was just a combination of actually enjoying it, or it physically working for me,” Riojas said. “I have exercise-induced asthma, so when I run outside, I can run max two miles and then I’m just completely winded and can’t breathe. For some reason, jump roping, even outside, helps with that. However, anatomically that motion is different, I don’t get winded.”

Ellis Rioja

The Jump Rope Club look to recruit students at any level of experience to compete with their team.

The Jump Rope Club was established four years ago. According to Riojas, most members of the team join as amateurs, which allows the team to grow in their jump rope skills together.

“Practice is a great time to throw the newbies together and let them figure it out and crash course on their own, but really almost everyone on the team is new to jump rope,” Riojas said. 

As part of a larger jump rope community, Riojas said some members of the team travel to an annual national workshop to learn new skills and meet others in the sport. 

“We go to this massive workshop where the best in the world are doing this showcase show, and they’re amazing people. But, in the end, they’re just people like us who love jump rope because jump rope is this big sport that so many people can do,” he said. 

Unlike most of her teammates, the jump rope world is not new to senior Lillian Merrigan who participated in jump rope competitions for 11 years. Merrigan said she was not planning to continue jump rope in college but decided to join because it would be a different way to enjoy her favorite sport.

“It’s been cool to be on a new team in a sport that not a lot of people have ever heard of,” Merrigan said. “Even though it’s a club sport, you can join as someone who’s never done it before, and we teach anyone of any skill level.” 

The club holds practice twice a week and mainly works on routines for upcoming performances. Instead of separating into ability levels for shows, the club focuses on crafting a well-rounded experience that allows for the integration of everyone’s abilities, Riojas said.

In addition to holding practices and performances, members of the club share their love for jump rope with kids in the South Bend community.

Sophomore Sara Ferraro serves as the club treasurer and works with the Notre Dame Center for Arts and Culture to organize opportunities to jump with kids in the community. The partnership gives the kids a chance to exert energy after sitting in the classroom all day while simultaneously learning new skills and having fun, Ferraro said.

“They’re really interested, and they learn so quickly,” she said. “Plus, they’re so young that it’s amazing to see them get in a couple of minutes the tricks that took me a month to learn.” 

Like many of her fellow jumpers, Ferraro hopes to continue to jump rope after college and sees jump rope as a hobby that anyone could pick up.

“You can literally go buy a jump rope for $5 and take it anywhere you go,” Ferraro said. “It’s a great way to connect with people and also stay fit individually since it’s hard sometimes to find a team to do large field sports with. You can always jump rope by yourself or find a couple other people to jump with you.”

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About Alysa Guffey

Alysa is a sophomore pursuing a major in history with a minor in journalism, ethics and democracy. While she calls Breen-Phillips her home on campus, she is originally from Indianapolis. She currently serves as an associate news editor.

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