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The Chapel Hill Bouncing Bulldogs host 28th annual jump rope workshop

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Tim Martin, Rachel Hart, and Rebecca Koweek (Left to Right). Photo courtesy of Alex Bush.

Competitive jump ropers often get the same blank stare when trying to explain the sport they love. But when people see the sport in action for the first time, they come to understand the athleticism, rhythm and creativity of these jumpers.

On Saturday Nov. 4 the Bouncing Bulldogs, a community jump rope team, will host the 28th Annual North Carolina Rope Skipping Workshop at East Chapel Hill High School to spread awareness about competitive jump-roping. This event offers instruction for anyone interested in jumping rope, regardless of experience. Participants will learn from accomplished staff members from Japan, France, Germany and United States.

Founder Ray N. Fredrick, Jr. has been the director of the Bouncing Bulldogs for 31 years. He attributes the continued success of the workshop to the jumpers and parents who have supported it. Although the structure of the workshop has generally stayed the same, the purpose has evolved.

“In the beginning, we were just happy to be in a gym with coaches and jumpers from other teams,” Fredrick said. “As the workshop has grown over the three decades, we have moved from fun and fitness to trying to bring in the best jumpers in the world. But in the last three years, our focus has shifted again. Now, we still want to bring in high-level teachers, but we want to bring in boys and girls who do not have the resources to attend a workshop.”

This year, the team has chosen to expand its focus to community outreach. Bouncing Bulldogs team members have been asked to find individuals in the community to sponsor 100 children for this event. The sponsored kids will be provided transportation to and from the event, three meals, a rope, a day of instruction, a workshop t-shirt and admission to the International Jump Rope Spectacular.

Bouncing Bulldogs co-captain Rebecca Koweek emphasized the overarching importance of this scholarship program.

“Many people on the team are very fortunate to be from where they come from, and the workshop is a really good opportunity to meet people from different countries, or just jumpers locally, who we don’t know,” Koweek said. “It’s just a great opportunity to connect.”

After the workshop, teams who attended have the opportunity to perform for the general public and the Bulldogs. Once everyone has had the opportunity to eat a barbecue dinner, the staff members put on a show for the general public. The Jump Rope Spectacular is a beloved tradition of the event where internationally recognized jumpers showcase their best skills.

But the weekend doesn’t stop there — on Sunday morning, there is another session of the workshop that allows the staff members to jump with each other. For these jumpers representing different teams, this is a unique experience. Instead of competing with each other as they typically do throughout the year, the workshop gives them the opportunity to share their skills with each other.

“Even as an experienced jumper, I still have a lot to learn, and the workshop provides me a way to do that,” said Bulldogs co-captain Kenneth Cato.

Co-captain Anna Furlong said she appreciates the different styles of the other teams. 

“I like how the Japanese jump because they put a lot of personality into it, and that’s definitely something that we attempt to model in our routines,” Furlong said.

Co-captains Koweek, Cato and Furlong have worked alongside Fredrick and associate head coach Tim Martin to organize the jumpers. Behind the scenes, Fredrick’s wife, Patricia Fredrick, collaborates with parents to organize the logistics. 

One parent, Lisa Copeland, has two daughters who are on the team. After years of volunteering, Copeland looks forward to the event because it brings the jump rope community together.

“I love seeing the people come back year after year,” Copeland said. “It’s all about the kids and their relationships.”

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