Before ascending above the nets as an outside hitter and defensive specialist for the Pomona-Pitzer volleyball team, Paige Wilson PO ’24 excelled at a different kind of jumping — one you might find on a grade school playground.
Hailing from Mill Creek, Washington, Wilson began jump roping for Jump Rope for Heart, a program organized by the American Heart Association, when she was seven. The annual event promoted the importance of healthy eating and physical exercise.
“We would go to different schools around where I lived and do our [jump rope] routine to music,” Wilson said. “[Performing] it was always a lot of fun and got other people involved; at the end, we would try to raise money for the American Heart Association.”
Their hour-long performances consisted of individual and group routines which incorporated various techniques such as wheel and double Dutch variations. A wheel requires two adjacent jumpers to hop through two different jump ropes and the double Dutch involves jumping through two ropes rotating in different directions.
“During [the performances], we had individual routines for around 30 seconds that we choreographed on our own with our favorite tricks,” Wilson said.
Of those skills, her favorite maneuver is the “triple side swing,” which involves twirling the rope to the left and right side before jumping over it.
These experiences allowed her to leap within higher levels of the activity. At age 10, Wilson joined a competitive jump rope team called Hot Dog USA, which garnered attention around her hometown.
“We were a Worlds team, which only allowed our seniors to go international and earn prizes for winning big competition events,” Wilson said. “We also did a halftime show for the Seattle Storm, the women’s professional basketball team.”
Compared to the performance-based jump roping Wilson had done, competitive jump roping involved mastering a specific skill. Wilson’s two specialties were speed and double unders — a technique where the rope passes twice in one jump instead of once.
“For speed, you just go as fast as you can, and you have a minute to get as many steps in as you can,” Wilson said. “For double unders, you just did as many in a row as you possibly could.”
Wilson ultimately switched to volleyball after finding the sport to be more dynamic and exciting than jump roping.
“I really liked jump rope, but once you get into the specialties, you’re kind of doing the same thing over and over again,” Wilson said. “I eventually went with volleyball just because it was more fun.”
The transition was smoother due to the benefits she earned from jump rope. One critical athletic feature she built through her old sport was her standing vertical jump, currently at 27 inches.
“Honestly, I tell everyone that jump roping is the only reason I’m good at volleyball.” —Paige Wilson PO ’24
“Honestly, I tell everyone that jump roping is the only reason I’m good at volleyball,” Wilson said. “It has helped so much and I still use it to warm up before lifts with our team.”
Wilson feels that her background in competitive jump roping has influenced her life in more ways than just her athletic ability.
“[Jump roping] is a lot of my personality; it’s always my fun fact and always a conversation starter,” Wilson said.
Through her experiences, Wilson has also built a strong community around her.
“Because of [those] interactions, I made a lot of friends and memories with our bright red track seats and red duffel bags,” Wilson said. “We’re all really into athleticism — almost all of [them] are soccer players and dancers in college with backgrounds in jump rope.”