Greenbelt S.I.T.Y. Stars
Remember the pleasure of jumping rope on the playground? Come be amazed and inspired by the boundless creativity and intense athleticism of the champion jumpers of Maryland’s own Greenbelt S.I.T.Y. Stars.
Jump rope may be one of the oldest forms of athletic play still practiced today. Historians date the practice back to at least 1600 BCE, when Egyptians used vines for jumping. In the United States, jump rope has been popular since colonial times. Here, as elsewhere, rhymes and jumping patterns have passed from child to child informally over centuries, always incorporating new elements that speak to the current moment.
Starting in the 1970s, jump rope experienced a huge surge of popularity as attention turned to the flamboyant double-dutch (two-rope) style being revived by urban youth. Today jump rope (or rope skipping, as it is called in most other countries) is increasingly a precision sport, with individual and team competitions in speed, freestyle, double-dutch, show team, all-around, and other categories. Still, jump rope retains significant aspects of the play, camaraderie, and creativity that have made it a folk tradition among the young (and young at heart) for millennia.
The Greenbelt S.I.T.Y. Stars were founded in 1991 by Austin Gibbs, a former Olympic track star and the track coach for Forestville (MD) High School. The current head coach of the S.I.T.Y. Stars is Kim Bradshaw. A native of Washington, D.C., she started jumping in fifth grade; in her 30-plus years of jumping, she has numerous accomplishments to her credit, including Grand National Jump Rope Champion. Kim is also the U.S. record holder for Double Dutch Speed Relay and Double Dutch Pairs Speed in the 30-and-over division. One of the team’s stand-out members is Kim’s son, Brandon Harrison. Following in his mother’s footsteps, he is one of the top three jumpers in the nation, and currently holds the U.S. record for Thirty Second Speed and Three Minute Speed in the 18-and-over division.
Sponsored by the City of Greenbelt, the team name is an acronym for sensational, inspirational, talented, and youth, which expresses the values the coaches try to instill in team members. First and foremost, the Stars promote fitness in training children of all ages but also work to build teamwork, self-esteem, leadership skills, and self-confidence. Team members regularly place at the World Jump Rope Championships, and in 2011, the Stars were selected to film a public service announcement at the White House with first lady Michelle Obama for Nickelodeon’s Worldwide Day of Play.