The pretzel. The ninja. The donkey kick. The rump jump.
These are just some of the tricks that make the Moundsville Middle School jump rope team jump for joy.
The team is comprised of 150 students from grades six through eight. They perform eight-minute routines at the school's halftime shows. Additionally, 50 of the team's "superstars" travel to other elementary and middle schools to share their jumping talent.
Photos by Rebecca Olsavsky
The Moundsville Middle School Jump Rope Team has two performances in February. Pictured front row, from left are eighth grade team members Trey Jobes, Nicole Ridgely, Daniel Yoho, Mikayla Rogers and Austin Ratliff. Second row are Chaz Burge, Shaina Litman and Corey Gonchoff. In back are Lainey Brown, Marshal Kidd, Carli Lightner, Ivy Henderson, Kirsten Richman and Dart Feil.
The team has already held six performances for the school year and plan to have two more this month.
Teacher Suzanne Muncy coaches the Moundsville Middle School jump rope team, now in its fourth year. When Muncy taught in Tennessee, she observed jump rope popularity among schools in the state. Returning to the Ohio Valley, she brought the sport home.
A Make Activities Count grant from McDonald's funded the Moundsville Middle School jump rope team during its first year.
"Any student can jump," said Muncy, who believes jumping gives students an unique avenue in which to excel.
Those students who may not make the 12-member basketball team can still participate in a team activity. No one is cut from the jump rope team. However, this doesn't mean the jumpers don't take their craft seriously, as they replicate tricks performed at national championships. Of course, they always manage to have fun.
"My favorite part of jumping is the long rope solos," said eighth grade jumper Corey Gonchoff, who feels excited when he performs a trick well.
Having fun and practicing healthy habits coincide as a couple minutes of jumping rope has similar cardiovascular health benefits to running a mile. In January, the team became the Jump Rope for Heart Demonstration Team for West Virginia.
During their 45-minute shows, the team displays jumping skills and incorporates awareness regarding messages from RAZE, an anti-tobacco program.
Muncy doesn't see an end to the rope anytime soon, and wants more students to get involved with the team.
"I hope somebody else in the Ohio Valley (starts) a team," Muncy said.
For now, she's pleased that schools are discovering more creative ways to engage children in healthy habits.