"Holiday Hop" Chapel Hill Magazine
The SkipSations! Jump Rope Team has competed before audiences both nationally and internationally. But five members are about to showcase their tricks and skills on the biggest stage yet.
Chloe Grill, Megan Miller, Cinthia Praiswater, Sarah Seagroves and Julia Sonis have been selected to participate in the 87th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, seen by more than 3 million people who line the streets of New York and another 50 million at-home viewers. For these local teens, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime.
“I’m excited about meeting new people and being able to see everyone watching us while we’re jumping,” Megan says, “and just getting the experience of actually being in the parade rather than watching it at home.”
Chloe, Megan and Julia, freshmen at Chapel Hill High; Sarah, a freshman at Carrboro High; and Cinthia, a senior at Cedar Ridge High, were chosen to be part of a group of 200 jump rope athletes from across the country who will present their talent alongside the parade’s giant balloons, floats, marching bands and host of celebrities. Organized by the Heartbeats Jump Rope Team in Cleveland, Ohio, the ensemble will appear under the acronym J.U.M.P., which stands for Jumpers United for Macy’s Parade.
“We all had to learn the required parade routine, and then the next day we had team tryouts where we did the routine for a mile around the track,” says Sarah, who has jumped with SkipSations! for seven years. “My coach [Lucy Schimmelfing] picked five people who she thought best portrayed the jump and would be committed to do the necessary training.”
In addition to regular SkipSations! practices on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, the girls have been putting in extra time to prepare for the 2.5-mile route that winds from Central Park to Herald Square. “We’re practicing two times a week on Wednesday and Saturday and right now we jump a mile and a half every time,” Sarah explained on a recent evening as she and her teammates warmed up before taking off around the track at Southern Community Park. They must continue to build their endurance in order to jump the entire distance without stopping.
“This is a committed group of girls,” says Sarah’s mom, Mary Seagroves, who helps out with the SkipSations! team along with many of the other parents. “When Coach Lucy said to them, ‘I want you to do your best and represent us well,’ they really took that to heart.”
Months of training will culminate when all 200 jumpers, each paying their own way to the Big Apple, arrive on Nov. 26 to practice in unison before the parade’s 9 a.m. kickoff on Nov. 28. A select 72 members of J.U.M.P., including Cinthia and Megan, will be featured in a live one-minute segment broadcast on NBC when the group reaches Herald Square.
Mary hopes that folks who see the girls practicing around town will stop and ask about what they’re doing, and then tune in on Thanksgiving to watch them in action. “It seems like there are always people who are curious about them jumping, and this is a great way to get the word out more.” TW