Milan, Gigi and "Lil Baby" perform a routine at the Joseph Cole Recreation Center in Washington, D.C., on June 13. (Marcus Relacion/The Washington Informer)
Milan, Gigi and "Lil Baby" perform a routine at the Joseph Cole Recreation Center in Washington, D.C., on June 13. (Marcus Relacion/The Washington Informer)

Double dutch has experienced a spike in national and international popularity over the past few years, and while the sport has international roots, a local team is taking the competition to the next level.  

A rope skipping exercise involving two ropes turned in an eggbeater fashion while a third person jumps within, double dutch’s origins may be traced back to ancient Phoenician, Egyptian, and Chinese rope makers who developed the basic framework as they made their wares. 

Dutch settlers brought double dutch to New Amsterdam (now New York City), where English observers named it. The game became a popular urban pastime, particularly in New York during World War II. 

In 1973, David A. Walker and Detective Ulysses Williams revitalized double dutch as a competitive team sport, leading to the first tournament in 1974 with nearly 600 students. Since then, double dutch has grown into a global sport with national and international championships.

Dorian performs a routine with Gigi and Charlie watching and waiting for their turn at the Joseph Cole Recreation Center in Washington, D.C., on June 13. (Marcus Relacion/The Washington Informer)
Dorian performs a routine with Gigi and Charlie watching and waiting for their turn at the Joseph Cole Recreation Center in Washington, D.C., on June 13. (Marcus Relacion/The Washington Informer)

Walker founded the American Double Dutch League in 1974 and later the International Double Dutch Federation and the National Double Dutch League. He also created the popular “Fusion” free-style approach used in international competitions. 

Recently, a local D.C. group achieved the coveted world title in Double Dutch in the world invitationals held in Sumter, South Carolina. 

Jump DC has made a mark in the double dutch world. The team traveled to Sumter to compete against some of the greatest jumpers that the nation has to offer. Participants from 15 states gathered to determine who is the best.

Sharde Perry is the founder and owner of the local team. Despite some early challenges, she had the vision to build a competitive program

“It is like a dream come true,” Perry told The Informer. “To realize where we came from in this process and to achieve this at this point is remarkable.”

She first started the program in 2019 with five participants, but just when the program began to venture out, COVID hit and plans had to be postponed.

Following a three-year break, Perry reset and set Jump DC’s current system in place in 2022.  

The first significant move for Jump DC came when Perry brought on Sherita McGill as a coach.

“Rita is the perfect complement to the program,” noted Perry, a former double dutch performer.  “It is interesting how these things work out. She reached out to me several times when I first started out, but I did not return the calls. Then when I finally talked to her about coaching in the program, she turned out to be exactly what we needed. She is an excellent coach in terms of preparation and motivation, whereas I am more of the organizational person getting the administrative things done.”

The team practices three times a week for three hours and up to four on Saturdays.  

The next part of expanding Jump DC was incorporating travel in the game plan to prepare for competition.  It included trips to New York and other places to face off some of the more established programs in the country.  

The judging of competition is based on three components: compulsory, speed and freestyle.  There are 28 members (including one male) of the team, ranging in ages from 5 to 16 and come from all quadrants of the city with a few from Maryland.  They are broken up into two categories, Kindergarten through second grade, and third graders through high school seniors.

In training the jumpers, McGill comes in as a driving force.  A former jumper, she demands hard work, discipline in the team’s practice and preparation.

“We pride ourselves on being the most prepared team in the competition,” declared McGill. “Our hard work was rewarded because of that.” 

Arayah Armstrong, 11, first started with the program three years ago.  She talks about the experience of achieving such a lofty accomplishment.

“When I first heard them call Jump DC as the champion, it was disbelief,” recalled Arayah.  “There were a lot of good teams there who were amazing.  When I saw all my teammates jumping up and down, that’s when I knew it was real.  We had done it.”

Jennifer Armstrong, Arayah’s mother, also weighed in on the team’s success.

“It is remarkable how the program has grown over the past three years,” Armstrong told The Informer. ” At first, they were feeling their way and trying to find out where they were.  Now there is no more doubt. There is a confidence, a lot of growth and a strong sisterhood that is a joy to see.  The coaches have done a great job.”

Despite its success, the program faces a serious challenge and that is lack of funding.  Since there is no major sponsor, the team relies on small fundraisers/donations to cover the costs.   The team had to raise $20,000 to cover expenses for transportation, hotel accommodations, food, gas, team registration and other expenses.

For their efforts, Jump DC was invited to participate in the Juneteenth celebration followed by a demonstration with their championship jackets on.

Further, JUMP DC has been selected to be a part of a documentary, “Majic Between the Ropes” that is being produced by actor and comedian Kevin Hart.

“This is big for Jump DC,” said Perry.  “We are excited for the opportunity.”

Armstrong said the team’s success is not only big for Jump DC but the whole Washington Metropolitan region.

“For them to see themselves on that stage is not just going to be huge for the Jump DC program and the DMV area, but also for them individually.”

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