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January 28. 2013 9:15PM

Keene jumprope team has them jumping up and down

KEENE - Jumping rope is not as simple as you think.

There's speed, double Dutch, freestyle and fusion to think about, said Kim Bylancik, coach of the new Cheshire Cats jump rope team.

The Cheshire Cats started in Keene earlier this month. Bylancik said her team is only the second jump rope team in the state, next to longtime Portsmouth-based team Extreme Air.

Saturday, the team of about 10 members practiced in the gymnasium at the Keene Recreation Center. The team is still working on basic skills, but is progressing fast, Bylancik said.

"I decided to do this because I was running an after-school program years ago and I had two kids that tied a bunch of ropes together and said, 'Hey Kim what's that thing that you twirl two ropes?' and I said, 'It's called Double Dutch and I have no idea how to do it.' . So we started getting information and started teaching ourselves."

Bylancik eventually attended some USA Jump Rope association events and was inspired to start a team.

"This sport is so much different than any other sport because it can be competitive, it can be demonstration, it can be for just for fitness, but when you get a bunch of teams together the one thing you notice is they share all their tricks. They cheer each other on and they immediately start sharing and showing each other," Bylancik said. "Even at the national and the worlds they get together and they get so excited to teach each other new stuff."

The Cheshire Cats is "kid-driven," Bylancik said.

"It's going to be up to them whether they want to be a demonstration team or a competitive team, they could be both. The regional competition is every year in April so we wouldn't be ready this year."

The team is for children in grades 3 to 8. Parents at the practice Saturday said they love that the team is keeping their kids active during the winter. They also love that it's affordable and it's different.

Bylancik is currently interim director of the small nonprofit Community Connections for After School Networking.

She has a master's degree in environmental education and also teaches at Stonewall Farm in Keene.

"I really like teaching the health and fitness side of being active, but also the self-confidence and communication skills, personal goal setting and personal growth," Bylancik said.

mpierce@newstote.com


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