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The Joy of Jumping

Sophomore’s Skill Takes Her from Sidewalks to World Cup

By Karen Shih ’09

Lauren Bork ’17 is just a few million jumps from reclaiming a gold medal in her sport.

The journalism major scaled back her jump-roping practice schedule during freshman year at Maryland, but she’s getting warmed back up for national competition with a trip to Brazil later this month in part to entertain World Cup fans.

She’s already gotten plenty of double takes for her gymnastics-inspired routines on the sidewalks of campus. She drops into splits and throws in a round-off while whipping the rope around her head and feet, never disrupting the rhythmic thwack-thwack of the plastic against the concrete.

“People stare all the time,” Bork says. “I’ve gotten stopped a lot, because people don’t normally jump rope like that.”

She started jump roping competitively at age 8, following her older sister to practice with the Kangaroo Kids, a precision jump rope team based in Howard County, Md.

At the U.S. National Jump Rope Championships last year, she won a gold in double Dutch singles freestyle and a silver for her pairs routine and placed fifth for her individual singles freestyle routine. She competed in nearly every event in her age group over the four-day competition, including the speed ones, though she prefers freestyle.

“They’re more fun,” she says. “I learned a lot from older jumpers, but sometimes I just go out on my own, wrap my rope around my legs in a weird way and find a way to get out of it. It’s about seeing how you can contort your rope and work with it.”

She and a group of fellow jump ropers are now preparing to trek to Manaus in the Amazon, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, performing in World Cup cities to “spread the sport of jump rope as well as spread the Gospel,” she says.

“I’ve been a Christian my whole life, and it’s definitely the most important thing in my life,” she says.

When she’s back in school this fall, she’ll balance a new leadership position with Campus Crusade for Christ, volunteer hours at TerpsTV (she’s thinking of going into sports journalism) and increased practice hours to get her back on the podium.

She encourages anyone who’s interested to “just pick a rope and start jumping on your own,” she says. It’s never too late: The national championships include a 50-and-older category.

Interested in competitive jump roping or just want to see a show? Visit the Kangaroo Kids website to learn about its annual workshops, summer camps and more.

Watch Bork in action with her double Dutch team: 

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