You Say Jump, She Asks "How High?"

Her goals are set just as high as her jumps and she’s moving as fast as her feet can carry her. Western senior, Farris Rae, 22, is this week’s campus celebrity because of her devotion to athletics, determination to academics and love for her school and community.

Rae, a kinesiology major has been competitively jump roping for over 10 years and has placed third in a national competition. She has traveled all over the world for competitions, to teach workshops and to help get jump rope teams started in other countries.

Rae’s love for jump roping started when she was in elementary school after she had to take a break from gymnastics because of an acid reflux disease she developed.

During her year long break, Rae said she knew it would be difficult to compete at the same level she was at before. Instead of focusing on the negative, Rae looked for other ways to continue her love for physical activity.

At 12 years old Rae heard about an afterschool jump roping program, tried it out and fell in love with this sport she barely knew anything about before. With her success in gymnastics, she was able to quickly pick up on a lot of the flips and moves involved in the choreography of jump roping, Rae said.

She was soon asked to join the Hot Dog USA jump rope team, based out of Redmond, Wash.

“There’s this whole array of types of jumping that I had no idea about,” Rae said.

There were about 50 members on the team when Rae joined and Hot Dog USA has one of the biggest jump rope teams in the North West, Rae said.

Coming from gymnastics was very different because within your team there is so much competition and everyone wants to beat each other. Jump roping was completely opposite for me, Rae said.

                                                                                          (Rae, the farthest to the right, is doing a workshop in Kenya)

“I really loved the environment of jump roping because it’s a very supportive team,” Rae said.

A big goal Rae said her and her team have is to bring jump roping to a wider international level and make it an Olympic sport. It’s a very young sport, gaining popularity in the US in the 1980’s, but growing fast, Rae said.

“Since it is so small, it’s like a family because everyone in the sport knows each other. I really like the family aspect as well as the innovation and creativity the sport supports,” Rae said.

Rae did her first national competition when she was just 12 years old. Once a jump roper gets better and starts placing in numerous competitions, people start to recognize the names of the top jump ropers. Rae said this happened to her and she was soon being asked to visit other teams to help with workshops. At first it was just visiting teams around the country and then soon she was being asked to travel globally to showcase and teach her jump roping skills, Rae said.

Rae has traveled all over in her 12 years of jump roping from Belgium, Bermuda, Tokyo and Kenya.

The happiest moment of her jump roping career was when she heard her and her team had placed third in a national competition that allowed them to move onto the World jump roping competition in South Africa in 2008, Rae said.

“It was 2 years of blood sweat and tears preparing for that competition. I remember sitting down in the award ceremony with my team and just thinking no matter what happens we left our hearts out there today. I didn’t expect to hear our names...but when we did it was probably one of the happiest moments of my life,” Rae said.

                                                                                                                         (Rae in Kenya in 2013)

Since starting her college career at Western, Rae hasn’t been able to commit time for competing but still travels to do workshops and recently went to Nairobi, Kenya to help start jump rope teams there.

“The kids there have so much natural talent, I can’t even describe it. I’m so proud of how far they’ve come in just one year,” Rae said.

When she’s not jumping or studying, Rae said she loves hiking, backpacking, and anything where she gets to be outside in the pacific northwest that she loves.

As far as her future, Rae said she is definitely excited to complete her kinesiology degree this spring.

“Coming here as a freshman [at Western], I remember thinking, I was so intimidated by the thought of myself four years later. Just having to obtain all that knowledge and get through everything, but you really just have to take it one class at a time,” Rae said.