Drive down Tenth Street in the summer and you will see them—the jumpers. You will see kids jumping rope on playgrounds and street corners.

Jumping rope is something lots of kids like to do. But most kids are not as good at it as the Jumping Stars.

The last time I met with the Jumping Stars was in August. They were jumping at the playground where they hang out. Two of them were spinning the rope. Two of them were jumping over the rope as it spun past. The rope was spinning so fast it was hard to see it. The jumpers’ feet went pit-pat-pit-pat-pit-pat on the blacktop.

This sport is named jumping rope. But that makes it sound much less cool than it is. The kids don't just jump. They dance. They twist and spin. They hop and skip. They flip. They land on their hands and then pop back up on their feet. They do all of this while jumping over a rope at top speed. It is an art form, like dancing.

There are four jumpers on the Jumping Stars, Kit Winter, Jo Palmer, Kate Agee, and Jaylin Smith. Kit and Jo are the top jumpers.

Kit is sixteen. She is an awesome jumper. She has been jumping rope since she was five. She is also one of the most cheerful kids I know. Kit has a great smile. She is always quiet. She always keeps her cool. I have never seen her get mad.

Jo is something else. She jumps like a goddess, and sometimes she acts like one, too. She plans the tricks they do. She says who goes where. She is the boss.

The day I visited, the Jumping Stars were practicing a trick Jo had made up for herself and Kit. It was called the flip. When the Stars do the flip, Jo starts out jumping next to Kit. Then she draws near to Kit, Then she flips over Kit’s back and lands on the far side. Both of them keep jumping all the while. It’s a cool trick.

Looked on as the kids did the flip six times. Three times they nailed it. Three times they missed it.

You could see Jo was upset when she and Kit muffed the trick. Jo would moan and groan. She would cross her arms and sulk. Jo would set her hands on her hips like a mom who is mad at her kids. But Jo was mad at herself, so she went and sat on the lawn.

After a bit, the Jumping Stars paused for a rest. That gave me a chance to chat with them.
“There’s a big jumping contest next week,” Kit explained.
“Think you can win it?” I asked.
“I hope so,” said Kit. “Last time we were seventh.”
“Nice job!” I said.

“Seventh is not good!” Jo said. Kit and the rest of the Jumping Stars nodded. But they did not seem to feel the pain of seventh place quite as much as Jo.

“That flip you were practicing—will you be doing that one in the meet?”

“I hope so,” said Jo. “We need to get good at it. We need to get to the point where we nail it nine times out of ten.”

Then Jo said to her teammates, “Let's do it! We are going to keep practicing from dawn until dusk, until we can do the flip in our sleep!”