Childhood fascination led to a lifetime passion for siblings
College of the Rockies People: Their Courage, Curiosity, and Contributions
When most of us think of jumping rope, our thoughts go back to childhood games on the playground. But as College of the Rockies students Bradley, Lauren, and Kalina Spurge demonstrate, competitive jump rope is not child’s play.
“It’s a lot harder than people think,” Kalina said. “When people minimize it, it kind of hurts because it takes so much dedication and work to be able to do it at a high level.”
And the Spurges have all competed at a high level. In their 12 years in the sport, they have taken home more provincial and national awards than they can count. Bradley has also competed internationally, representing Team Canada and bringing home silver and bronze team medals.
The siblings moved to Winlaw, B.C. from London, England when Bradley and Lauren were seven and Kalina was six. After seeing signs at their school advertising jump rope provincials being hosted by the Nelson Rhythm Ropers, they decided to go watch. They were immediately hooked.
“I was caught up when I saw them doing the butt jumps and double-dutch,” Lauren said. “It was so exciting to see everyone flip around.”
With their mom’s blessing, they tried out for the team, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Though the demands of college make it difficult to continue to compete with their Nelson-based team, Bradley and Kalina continue to take part in events as individual jumpers and judge team events. While their accomplishments are numerous, there are a couple of national records they hope to beat. Lauren no longer competes but judges at both provincial and national levels.
It’s not all about the competition, however. Along with the Nelson Rhythm Ropers, the Spurges take part on demo teams, putting on shows for Jump Rope for Heart and other events. The siblings, along with younger brother Aaron, participate in demo shows in hopes of introducing more people to the sport. These demo shows also provide the opportunity to be more creative and unconventional.
“In the demo shows, we have the younger skippers on Bradley’s shoulders, and double-dutch ropes and, we’re throwing kids in the air,” Lauren said. “We also do light shows where we put black lights on and the ropes light up in the dark. It’s just exhilarating.”
The Spurges credit 12 years of a shared goal – training, competing, and putting on shows – for the close relationship they share. They feel they have also gained an extended family.
“We would practice three times a week, two and a half hours a day,” Bradley said. “And closer to competition we’d be training up to five days a week. You spend a lot of time with your teammates and become like a family.
“You’re close to other teams as well. You compete against each other at provincials but then you become teammates when you move on to national and international competitions and you bond.”
Nelson Rhythm Ropers coach, Brenda Reid, has always been impressed with the dedication the Spurge’s have shown to their sport.
“I’ve always admired their dedication, enthusiasm, and the support they give toward every activity they are involved in,” she said. “Their parents also support them 100 per cent.”
Though their studies are now their priority, all three predict jump rope will be a part of their lives far into the future.
Lauren (above), who completed pre-education at the college and will be moving into the University of Victoria East Kootenay Teacher Education program at the college’s Cranbrook campus hopes to bring jump rope into her teaching.
“I am definitely going to educate my students about the sport and hope to put on fun shows during assemblies,” she said. “I can maybe start up my own team, wherever I end up.”
Kalina, who is enrolled in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, is going to keep competing for as long as she can, when the demands of her education allow her the time to do so. She competed in provincials at the end of April, coming home with a first place medal and an invitation to nationals in Olds, Alberta in May. She also hopes to continue to judge competitions and may move into a coaching role.
Bradley completed a two-year diploma in Kinesiology and will be returning to the college in the General Management business program. A member of the Avalanche volleyball team, his priority is with his volleyball teammates during the academic year, jumping when he can to keep up his skills. He hopes to continue to compete in jump rope for another five or six years.
“That seems to be around the age where a lot of guys are peaking,” he said. “A lot of records are being broken and some of the best jumpers in the world are around that 25-year old age range.”
Over their years in the sport, the Spurges have even had some brushes with fame. One of the coaches they worked with competed on American Ninja Warrior, they had the opportunity to perform for the torch passing for the 2010 Olympics, and they performed on TV for the Rick Mercer Report.
They hope continued exposure will help people to better understand the sport. Not just fun and games, competitive jump rope involves serious dedication, training, and physical fitness. But whether you’re interested in the challenge of competition or the fun and excitement of participating on a demo team, the Spurges encourage people to give jump rope a try.
Here is a short video of the Spurges demonstrating some of their competition skills…
Lead image: Kalina, Bradley and Lauren Spurge. Photos submitted
College of the Rockies