Eighteen years old and a senior at Cooper high school, Teanna took over as sole coach of the team two years ago, after her young co-leader Kaitlin Copelin died suddenly.
Teanna was a student at Bassetti Elementary and started jumping at age nine. After seven years of competition, the P.E. teacher who coached the team was ready to step down. At the time, the team was named the Jammin’ Jumpers.
“I was captain on my other team, so was already teaching the younger kids,” she explains. She describes feeling bad that they were just getting started, and might not be able to continue in the sport without a coach. So she and another 16 year-old teammate, Kaitlin, decided to take over. Then after a short illness, Kaitlin died.
Teanna wasn’t sure she could go on by herself. This wasn’t the way it was supposed to be, but she took a step at a time.
The sport itself appears to have brought healing.
The first jump rope team was the brainchild of Cheryl Edgar, who was inspired after finding out about competitive jump rope during involvement with a Jump Rope for Heart fundraiser.
Says the former coach and advisor via email, “… the [Neon Twisters] carry on in honor of Kaitlin … [and are] preparing for the national Jump rope competition in Long Beach, California in June of next summer.”
Teanna says, “It’s a super competitive sport, but we all kind of cheer each other on because we go to the same camps. There are workshops and camps all over Texas and the U.S.”
Going far beyond simple rope skipping or playground double-dutch, competitive jump rope moves include the diamond, the eggbeater, and the rainbow.
“Freestyle jump rope is gymnastics, in the rope,” says Coach Rose.
She comments on four different aspects being judged: accuracy and flow, diversity, multiples – which include repeat movements and footwork, and creativity.
The team practices for two hours at a time, twice a week at Bassetti Elementary. Beginners start off learning basic footwork and then “work their way up to the fitness.” They also learn how to be good turners. “Turners have the hardest job,” says Teanna.
“People are surprised at how good it is for you – jump roping for 30 minutes is like running 40 miles or something.”
The Neon Twisters team consists of girls and boys, ages kindergarten through teens. The sport has no age limit however, and Teanna says she’s seen 70 year-olds out there.
To make possible travel to competitions, the team solicits sponsors from businesses. They haven’t been able to afford to attend all events.
“My favorite thing is meeting all the new people,” Teanna says wholeheartedly. “We’re all part of USA Jump Rope.”
When asked how she manages coaching, being a student, and working part-time, Teanna answers, “Oh, um, it’s craazy…”
She relays that she’d originally planned on attending a university out of town, but is now considering Cisco College in Abilene to begin her studies, so that she can stay on as Neon Twisters coach.
Neon Twisters Facebook Group
Truly awesome & motivating video of another team’s jump rope routine set to Beyonce’s “Move Your Body” song.