Jumping rope world wide

By Joanne McDonald

Sydney Nicholls lives life at double and even triple speed.

A Canadian national jump rope champion, her skill and speed have placed her on the international podium and she is helping to put the demanding sport on the Olympic radar.

And best of all, she is the nicest teen you could ever meet.

Last fall in China, Sydney placed an impressive 3rd overall in a very competitive field of global athletes. A member of the dynamic Lincoln Leapers, the 13-year-old Grimsby resident was one of 10 selected to represent Canada at the International Jump Rope Competition (Rope Skipping China Open 2019) in Beijing.

She competed in three masters (individual) events including 30-second speed, three-minute speed and single rope freestyle – that is when she wasn’t doing jump rope tricks along the Great Wall of China.

It was quite the adventure and an opportunity Sydney says she wouldn’t have had without her dedicated coaches, the community, the Leapers and “my amazing parents.”

Sitting at the kitchen table with her parents Tim and Deb Nicholls, Sydney’s focus is now on qualifying for the 2020 International Jump Rope Union (IJRU) World Championships this July in Ottawa. It’s the newly-merged IJRU’s first global championship event and they can’t wait to welcome the entire jump rope world to Canada.

It’s a very exciting time for the sport and Canada has a lot to look forward to watching this young athlete perform.

“I credit Sydney’s ability to get to this level with her perseverance and determination and a belief in herself. She has a laser focus,” says Tim, speaking both as her dad and team manager and conditioning coach for the Lincoln Leapers. “She can be surrounded by judges, 10 at each table and maintain her centre. “She has that level of confidence, strength and concentration.”

Sydney also has a grace and poise that belies her 13 years. And she is grounded in humility – one of her strong personality traits.

“The best part is how humble she is. She takes her accomplishments in stride and is proud of all her team mates,” says Deb. “That is what is so nice about Sydney’s personality. She truly cares about other people.” And, “she never skips a practice.”

Sydney is already a veteran of numerous national and international competitions and it’s been heartwarming for Deb to see her daughter trading national pins with athletes from other countries.“ She has made beautiful friendships around the world.”

LOVE AT FIRST SKIP
Skipping, jumping and turning the ropes since the age of six, it was curiosity and the prompting of lifelong friend Hannah Miller that first brought Sydney to the athletic sport when she joined the Lincoln Leapers.

“After that first night, I knew I wanted to skip,” Sydney said. It was creative and wide open and she loved learning new tricks.

Quickly moving through the initial three levels, she was invited to try out, and qualified that first year to go to the national competition in Vancouver.

“It was really hard the first year. I went straight from Little Leapers, all fun, straight into competition. I had to pick up what to do pretty fast as it was a national competition,” said Sydney. “The coaches gave me lots of motivational pep talks and were always encouraging.”

A Grade 8 student at Central French Immersion Public School in Grimsby, Sydney was part of the first year pilot to introduce French immersion when she started Grade 1 and will graduate with the inaugural class before heading to Grimsby Secondary School.

A well rounded athlete, Sydney plays volleyball and also finds time for track and field and cross country. A straight A student, she gets home from workouts, does her homework, no moaning or groaning.

“She juggles her responsibilities well and has great time management skills,” says Deb. “She has had the same friends for years, a wonderful group of friends, many of them together since preschool.”

Physical fitness is in the genes for this family – cycling, hiking, power walking.

So too is the strong family bond to being there for each other.

Sydney did competitive gymnastics for five years, training at Aspire Gymnastics in Grimsby. She still goes to Aspire for tumbling and skips three times a week at Blessed Trinity Secondary School and Smithville Public School.

“My Mom and Dad have always supported me through the ups and downs, the physical wear and tear, day to day to practises, the emotional roller coaster, and the absolute excitement when it all pays off,” Sydney said.

Sydney has brought home some serious hardware from the growing list of national and international competitions.

Nationally she won first overall for females 13-14 at the 2019 Rope Skipping Canada National Championships in Olds, Alberta. Her very first competition she earned 14th overall in the 8-9 and under division in Vancouver; the second year in Halifax brought 2nd overall, 10 and under; the third year, a 1st overall in 10 and under in Olds, Alberta; 2nd overall, 11-12 year in Kingston; and 2nd overall, 11-12 in Windsor.

Internationally, Sydney earned 3rd overall at the 2019 China Open; 11th overall in the 14 and under at the 2019 World Jump Rope Championships in Oslo, Norway, (Sydney and Leaper team mate Sofia Stadler both placed 4th in their masters freestyle divisions); and 6th overall in the 11-12 year category at the 2018 international
competitions in Orlando, Florida. (The Lincoln Leaper team got second in the double Dutch speed event.)

Now, “it’s my dream to be on the Canadian national team and compete at the Olympics,” says Sydney.

CHINA OPEN
Sydney was one of only two athletes from Ontario, including world champion Eilea Given and four athletes from British Columbia to compete in the China Open.

Their arrival coincided with the country’s celebration of its 70th year of communism. “It was amazing. Everybody was nice, and helpful, ready to give directions and help out,” said Sydney. She survived mainly on white rice and touring the sights there were many curious cameras pointed in her direction.

It was a big change with the time difference and they had to compete two days after landing. It was an outdoor venue for the international competition and they learned just the night before competitions started they would have to use jump ropes provided by the Chinese and had no opportunity to practise.

“I just tried to go with it,” Sydney said.

For Eilea it was also an exciting adventure and her spectacular photos of Sydney will be a treasured memory.

“Sydney and I were training partners, we met at least once a week to train together. We were the only two athletes from Ontario who competed in China. She is 13 and I am 30, and we both had an excellent season in 2019,” Eilea said.

A member of the ‘Thirty No Hurty’ team in Fonthill and multiple gold medalist, Eilea put up the fastest score ever recorded at the World Jump Rope Championships in the female 30+ category in 2019 in Oslo, Norway.

“Sydney gives me the benefit of her energy, and I (try to) give her the benefit of my experience in the sport. She is certainly not afraid of hard work, and matches me stride for stride in our training. It has been such a beautiful and wonderful privilege to get to watch her develop into the athlete she is now and is yet becoming. Canada has a lot to look forward to in watching this athlete perform.”

LINCOLN LEAPERS
It would be hard to count the hours and commitment Tim brings to supporting the Leapers. His positive enthusiasm sets the stage for success.

“The relationship between the older jumpers and younger jumpers is unprecedented. That mentorship is so positive. They help each other and encourage each other,” says Tim.

“While Sydney was in Vancouver, it was almost like an entourage. They took care of her, encouraged her, kept her calm and gave her confidence, as they do with all the young ones,” Tim said. “This is what we love about this sport.”

Watching the Lincoln Leapers practise in the gym at Blessed Trinity Secondary School is more than motivational. Positivity and enthusiasm come natural it seems to the organizers and coaches.

The Leapers work hard and have a lot of fun.

“We’re a family, everyone supports everyone,” says Lincoln Leaper President Cheryl Giannini. From jumping to turning the ropes, “everyone brings their own skill set. Success is the sum of all parts.”
Cheryl credits the skill and commitment of head coach Becca

Simpson as a big part of Leaper success. The days are packed with a weekly program that includes: Monday team practice; Tuesday, conditioning and performance team; Wednesday, program and pre-competition practice; and Thursday team practice.

“The older kids help the younger ones to grow in the sport. You can’t pay for this kind of mentorship,” Cheryl said. “It’s so much fun to watch them grow.”

At present, the Lincoln Leapers have 27 competitive jumpers, ages 8-18, competing locally and internationally. There are 20 pre-competitive jumpers and about 80 Little Leapers, recreational jumpers learning to skip. Renowned for their performances, the Leapers have enraptured audiences at five Raptor half-time shows in Toronto.

Former Lincoln Leaper head coach, Carly Simpson is now Canadian rep for the IJRU.

Cherylsaid Carly has been instrumental in the Leaper program and in helping Jump Rope Canada get to international status.

They are all looking forward to the first IJRU world competition this July in Ottawa. “This is a huge coup for us to grow the sport.”

“Carly is working with American counterpart Chris Brown to develop the judging rule book,” Cheryl said.

“I’ve known Becca and Carly since I started and they’re just really good coaches,” said Sydney. “They have taught me so much and I always have fun.”

“It’s a very exciting time in the sport,” says Tim. “Everything is changing from the club level to the international level, rules that kids jump under, some events are changing, all judges must be trained, all go through a rigorous training process to know what they are judging and training.”

The thrill however remains the same – watching people’s jaws drop when they watch the Leapers perform.

“Canada has a lot of work to get jump rope recognized as a sport and to make sure, when the Olympics occur, we will be there with a national team,” Tim said.

The Lincoln Leapers jump rope team is a non-profit association that was established in 1982 as a small elementary school club. It was the first competitive jump rope team in Canada and has grown into one of the largest and most decorated teams, holding provincial, national, and world titles. The Leapers draw from Grimsby, St. Catharines, Smithville, all of West Niagara to St. Catharines.

“We’re constantly fundraising in order to get our coaches to provincial, national and international events.”

“Any time we go out for sponsorships, we are always amazed at how generous the community is,” Tim said. “We’ve received amazing amounts from the Legions, Beamsville and Grimsby. The Winona Men’s Club routinely gives a great contribution every year.”

For more information, visit the website: www.lincolnleapers.com.

FROM THE PUBLISHER JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2020

(To view our November/December 2019 issue of ClubWEST online, click here.)

Aside from a southern fishing expedition and a look at some awesome dishes one can prepare in their own home, this edition of ClubWest exhibits two resources Niagara West residents are blessed to have in abundance: great youth and nature.
We’ve written many times about the Lincoln Leapers over the years. They continue to develop great athletes and good people. Even a group which has done many impressive things over the years can still pull a surprising rabbit out of the hat.
The group’s exploits in China, case in point.
What an experience!
Forget the competition, I am constantly amazed at some of the opportunities today’s youth have and this venture is certainly one of them. For a kid like me – from a town of 3,000 and never on a plane until he was 25, it’s amazing to me kids get to hop on a plane and head off to the other side of the globe to compete on a world scale.
Not only that, but they deliver.
Year in, year out this group is a great representative for Lincoln and our entire area, as they draw members from the surrounding areas as well.
The other aspect of the area highlighted in this edition’s pages is the Niagara Escarpment. Clearly obvious to all on a day to day basis, the escarpment is taken for granted by many.
In this day and age of all things environmental, the last thing that should be glazed over is the escarpment.
Our featured group of intrepid hikers not forgotten about it, but decided to take it head on as a terrific challenge. While being able to say you hiked from one end of the escarpment to the other is a significant claim to fame, so too is being able to experience the entire geography of the area.
Rock formations, waterfalls, forest…it’s all there, which comprises another part of the reason the escarpment is amazing. In much of the world, while geography varies, there are few places that can cover all the bases. Southern Ontario, and the escarpment in particular, highlights just about every geographic feature including the Blue Mountains which can make for some hair-raising hiking.
To enjoy the escarpment, one does not have to take on a major task such as hiking it end to end.
Popping up to Beamer’s Conservation Area and taking a 20 walk through the forest to the lookout points is nice break in any day. There is also a nice little access point on Mountainview Road in Beamsville, just north of Locust Lane.
For the more hearty, one can trudge directly up hill to Beamer’s from an access in downtown Grimsby off of Gibson Street. Give it a try!

Publisher, ClubWest Magazine,
Mike Williscraft

 

FROM THE PUBLISHER NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2019

ClubWest

(To view our November/December 2019 issue of ClubWEST online, click here.)

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”
– Benjamin Franklin

 

When we started this magazine more than five years ago, we knew it would not be a stretch to come up with full-length feature ideas – just the opposite, in fact.

There are so many people doing great things – young and old alike – as well as a wealth of interesting and unique historical perspectives as well happenings, an entire magazine could be filled just with those ditties.

This edition’s feature on Hand’s Fishery is one of those stories. It came about just by fluke when I overheard Grimsby Mayor Jeff Jordan talking about the days when fisheries along the south shore of Lake Ontario were going concerns.

While it made sense, I had not heard anyone speak with any level of knowledge about the fisheries, so I was intrigued. Once the surface was scratched, which means a phone call to Bill Lipsitt, it took me about 30 seconds to realize this was a neat story which needed to be told.

Many will know Bill from his years of operating Lakecourt Marine with his late wife Marilyn (nee Hand). We all met one Saturday morning down at Lakecourt along with Marilyn’s sisters Donna and Gwen, as well as sister-in-law Bev Hand. Stories?

The original state of the land, being a marshy bog until one industrious soul got it dredged to make more of a channel, the abilities of the fishermen to navigate the lake even at night LONG before GPS, etc etc.

With all the concerns about the environment and plastic straws, focusing on our freshwater lakes and bringing back the fish population would be a good place to shift our energy.

As well, in this edition, you can read all about our local members of the Knot A Breast dragon boat crew who will be heading off to the worlds.

Talk about a change of focus?

For these athletes to work their way through surviving breast cancer to take on the challenge of putting themselves through the gruelling regime of racing competitively is very impressive. Surviving breast cancer is a great accomplishment all on its own, so adding any kind of world class accomplishment to their portfolio is certainly a very nice feather to be tucked into their respective caps.

The edition is a microcosm of all things good here in Niagara West – true heroes in these brave women, a family which put its fingerprints all over Grimsby’s history, people enjoying themselves with fishing, and great local food ideas. Enjoy!

Publisher, ClubWest Magazine
Mike Williscraft

West Niagara’s Lifestyle Magazine