In Brighton this past weekend, teams from throughout the country competed in trials to earn a place on the U.S. jump rope team, which will compete in the World Tournament from July 30-Aug. 9 in Tampa, FL.
Nineteen jumpers from the Jumpin' All Stars in Brighton, including 13-year-old Natalie Hauswirth, a seventh-grader at Hartland Middle School, made the cut and are now training for an event that takes place only once every two years.
“She’s the only team member from Hartland that made it to worlds,” said Natalie’s mom, Barbara Hauswirth.
The position is an honor, according to Hauswirth, who says her daughter has been jumping for five years but competing for only three.
“She was just getting to the point where she can obviously compete in worlds,” Hauswirth said. “She was able to go to that level, so it’s exciting.”
Natalie, who will be part of a five-person team from her age group, will compete in events such as double Dutch freestyle, speed and four-person freestyle. Her team, which won overall Saturday, now has the opportunity to compete at worlds in any of the seven events they participated in.
Coach Renee Nix said Natalie’s particular group is a hardworking team who will be strong competitors due to the “different flair” they will bring to their routines.
“Each country has its own little style, just like in gymnastics,” Nix said, which means each style will be important.
“One of her strengths is gymnastics in the ropes,” Nix said of Natalie. “And she’s good at speed, so I think she has a balance of speed and freestyle.”
Hauswirth said her daughter will start training for the world competition for at least two hours a day, five to six days a week, and part of that training will include gymnastics and endurance.
“It’s a lot of conditioning,” Hauswirth said. “It’s like running a sprint for three miles.”
Nix, who trains her team at Brighton High School and will be attending her fourth world competition, agrees. She said the sport, which some athletes do just to get in shape, is hard work.
“It’s not an easy sport,” she said. “Jump rope is considered a conditioning tool for people who box and (play) football, so if you can imagine doing it all day long and doing flips and tricks in the rope as well, it’s tough.”
During this summer’s competition, 25 countries from six continents will be represented, and Natalie and her teammates will have a rare opportunity to be able to meet some of the other teams.
“I think that’s probably one of the things she loves about jump rope the most is the number of people she’s met already all over the country, and they Facebook one another and keep in touch," Hauswirth said. "They talk about the sport a little more and get a chance to improve their craft.”
It's an opportunity and experience that Natalie said she is willing to continue to work hard for, and she said she is looking forward to the competition.
“I’m nervous and excited at the same time,” Natalie said.