This year, Elise qualified for and chose to compete in the Amateur Athletic Union Junior Olympic Games in Hampton Roads, Virginia. Junior Olympics is a huge, multi-sport 9 day event with over 12,000 amateur athletes competing in sports like swimming, track and field, gymnastics, jump rope, wrestling, field hockey, and karate. This was Elise's first time competing in a national level jump rope competition, and I think we were both excited and nervous as we donned our purple team tees and hit the road.
We had fun imagining what conversation led to this sight that we passed on the road.
"Honey! I told you to pack Junior's play structure from the backyard, remember?"
"Crap. There's no space in the truck. We'll just leave it here and buy a new play structure on Craigslist after we move."
"Um. No. Junior loves his play structure. Repack the truck and make space."
"Fine. Happy now?"
We got checked into the hotel, picked up credentials at the competition venue, had a nice dinner with friends, sat through a tense team meeting, and tried without much success to get a good night's sleep before the first day of competition.
Glitter very thoughtfully and seriously applied to hair as a group effort...
It was an intense four days of competition. Elise jumped in 3 singles events, 3 pairs events, 5 double dutch events and team show. She came away with 7th and 9th place finishes in double dutch power and double dutch single freestyle. She was thrilled to have two top 10 finishes. There was a lot of tough competition there.
The team had been hoping for a podium finish for their cool Beatles team show routine. They came in a disappointing 6th, but I still think they did a great job. It was a very creative routine. Elise struggled with this one all year with her breathing, so on a personal level, she was just thrilled to have it behind her and never have to jump it again!
Most nights, we hung out with the team,
but one night, Elise decided she had had enough togetherness and needed a break. The two of us took off to the coast and had a nice seafood dinner. It was good to have a little quiet mother/daughter time in the midst of all the chaos.
There was coloring and sleeping going on in the bleachers,
lots of silliness at the hotel,
and hugs during competition.
It was all bittersweet though. This was the last competition these kids will have together in purple as a team. Our team had a rough year and was actively imploding during this last competition of the season. We got the news yesterday that the team will be shutting its doors and will not exist next year. It leaves 40 kids without a jump rope home for next year. We are all scrambling to find other options. Unfortunately, jump rope isn't like soccer, gymnastics, or cheer where there are plenty of other leagues, gyms, or teams in the area. It has been a hard pill to swallow, and we have no idea where we will end up next year. My hope is that Elise will find a place to continue jumping to keep that big jump rope smile on her face. I'm not sure what we would do without it.