Jump roping has been at the core of American school playgrounds for generations. For most, the importance of this fun playground sport fades as they grow older. But for Jessica Fay (senior), jump roping has been an integral part of her life since she was in the fifth grade. She has traveled around both the country and even abroad to compete in jump rope competitions, and took home first place at a national competition. This past Friday in Thorne Hall, Fay performed at Apollo Night for the second year in a row, but with a new twist.
At last year’s Apollo Night, Jessica Fay jumped her way into the audiences’ heart. She performed a Double Dutch routine — all while doing handstands and cartwheels — with Emily Applewhite ’16 and Pepperdine student Amanda Stevenson to earn a top-three spot at the event. This year, Fay and her good friend, Tessa Wardle (senior), performed a hip-hop jump rope hybrid routine. Their performance was one of many highlights at this year’s Apollo night, a school-wide talent show put on by the Black Student Alliance (BSA). Fay was both pleased with her performance and honored to be in the company of her fellow performers.
“I think the performance was the best we had done since we made it up! We were having trouble with timing during practice but were able to nail it on the stage…plus it was awesome to perform with all the other talented people,” Fay said via email.
Fay’s jump roping has not only brought her pride and accolades but has also taken her around the world. A native of Bainbridge Island just outside of Seattle, she has traveled to London, Washington D.C, Chicago, Florida, Texas and Long Beach for competitions. The miles she and her team logged throughout their careers strengthened their relationships. These bonds — along with other aspects of jump rope — are what Fay enjoyed the most, and kept her mentally tough through the intense training and travel.
“I really liked the competitive aspect of it, and I really enjoyed that there are some parts where it’s solely you … where you are the only person responsible for that routine,” Fay said. “I also really enjoyed the team aspect of it, [that] is probably what kept me going because I just really liked my team members and we had a really good time.”
According to Fay, there are two categories in competitive jump roping: speed and freestyle. In the speed category, contestants are judged based on how many times their right foot hits the ground. In the freestyle category, participants aim to hit certain quadrants of the floor, with each quadrant corresponding to a particular skill. A panel of 12 judges evaluate competitors on criteria such as presentation, difficulty or whether or not competitors hit each of the four quadrants.
Fay earned first place at the 2013 World Jump Rope Championship in Washington D.C. at the age of 18 in the female all-around category. She also took first in the team competition at the same tournament for double dutch speed relay. Fay and her double dutch teammates later earned second place at a national tournament as well, a moment Fay holds in high regard.
“That was probably one of my favorite moments through my whole career,” Fay said.
Fay now spends less time on jump rope and more time on other hobbies of hers like playing guitar, watercolor painting and horseback riding. She still jumps for fun and participates in the occasional opportunity to showcase her mastered art.