Many people believe jump rope to be nothing more than a playground activity for children, but that’s not how Melissa Dalgaard sees it.
For nearly 20 years, jumping rope has been an important part of her life.
At the age of seven, Dalgaard was introduced to the sport by a teacher, Brenda Reid, during a Jump Rope For Heart presentation at her school.
“It just sounded like something fun to try,” recalls Dalgaard.
“It seemed like a sport that would challenge me, and it is very unique. I think that’s what initially drew me to the sport.”
She says her favourite part of jumping rope is that it is a sport where you can’t master everything.
“A sport like basketball, you can master a layup or a free throw, but with skipping you can always make it more difficult and add another spin or jump to the trick.”
This includes the butt jump, a unique trick, which involves jumping rope from a seated position.
After four years of touring Interior B.C. with Jump Rope For Heart, performing jump-rope demonstrations that raised money for and promoted cardiovascular health, Dalgaard and her teammates decided to take their jump-rope skills to the next level.
In 1999, Dalgaard travelled to Abbotsford to compete in her first competitive provincial jump-rope competition.
“I did not place, but it was an amazing experience,” she says with a smile.
The next four years were filled with intense training sessions up to two times a day, seven days a week and competing at provincial, national and international championships.
Dalgaard and her team finished in the top five of the 2004 national championships, which was good enough for them to qualify for the world championships, held in Australia that year.
At those world championships, Dalgaard and her team placed in the top six.
After seven years of competitive jump rope, she hung up the ropes in 2006, competing one last time on the international stage.
“I started university and then things just got crazy and there was no time to compete competitively any more.”
Today, Dalgaard is a teacher at Shuswap Middle School.
She has brought jumping rope into PE class and even the classroom from time to time.
“Kids think jumping rope was something they only learned in Grade 1, but it can be made a lot more interesting, it combines gymnastics, dance and strength all in one.”
“All the regular sports like basketball, volleyball and badminton are offered to students, and jumping rope provides a unique option.”
She admits she doesn’t jump rope as much as she used to, mainly because it is difficult to find available open space.
“It allowed me to travel the world, which is something I love to do,” she said.
Dalgaard says she will continue to jump rope as long as she can.
“It’s been a huge part of my life, and always will be.”