“Let’s see what you’ve got,” Debra said.
She smiled as she handed the jump rope to the three little girls standing in front of her. She was about their age when she started jumping rope ten years ago.
Coach Taylor encouraged her to jump rope with the hope that she would like it. It was obvious that she was bored watching her brothers play basketball every week. Coach Taylor had so many ideas for the new gym if he could only get the word out to the community.
After a few awkward jumps, she got the hang of speed jumping. She even made up a few tricks along the way. One day, Coach Taylor brought his daughter Blair to the gym. Blair sat and watched Debra invent different routines until she had to join in on the fun. She was able to match Debra step for step. The girls were only eight years old so the coach knew he had some special girls on his hands.
One day, they met a girl waiting outside for her brother. Debra had to practically bribe her with her mother’s smothered pork chops for her to even consider jumping rope.
While the boys were sweating on the basketball court, Debra, Blair, and Sabrina jumped rope. Debra was the brain, thinking of creative steps and Blair was the talent. Sabrina, was just having fun.
The next week, Coach introduced them to Lisa Barnett, the best jump-rope champion in the county.
“Ladies, Lisa is here to show you the ropes,” he joked.
“I hear that joke a little too often. Let’s see what you got,” Lisa said.
Blair and Sabrina turned the ropes and Debra jumped. She jumped without error for three minutes flat. She finally stopped and Blair and Sabrina looked in awe for a moment before they gave their friend high fives.
“That was pretty good…” Lisa started.
Debra nodded in agreement.
“…for a beginner,” she finished.
“Looks like you have some raw talent,” Lisa said. “Each of you will need to practice your jumping two hour every night. No excuses. See you next week,” she said and headed out of the gym.
Debra loved jumping rope but she wasn’t too sure about practicing every night, especially when her favorite program was on cable. She found ways to get out of practicing, until her great grandmother caught her.
Debra’s great grandmother, better known as “Big Mama” was ninety-eight years old and very feisty. She was visually impaired, but she could still function pretty well.
While Debra practiced in the driveway, Big Mama napped on the front porch in her favorite rocking chair. After twenty minutes, Debra stopped jumping rope. She was getting hungry even though she ate breakfast.
“Is your stomach upset, baby?” Big Mama asked.
“No, Big Mama,” Debra said.
“Well, why did you stop jumping rope?”
“You can’t see me. How could you tell?”
“Well, just because I don’t see, that doesn’t mean, I don’t know,” Big Mama wisecracked.
Debra practiced hard from that moment on. She didn’t know that Big Mama was paying attention. Her brother always made fun of her for jumping rope.
With Lisa’s help, the group was chosen to jump Double Dutch for the county. After seeing, Debra’s rope tricks, they were invited represent the city in the regional competition.
Debra’s brothers continued to make fun of her but her great grandmother encouraged her to use her frustration constructively. When she thought of every joke, Debra jumped faster.
The regional competition was held at the gym and the entire town showed up. Big Mama was led to a seat on the front row so she could cheer on her youngest great grandchild.
“I need to be able to see my baby perform today.” She joked.
Debra took her turn on stage and actually won two awards that day. One was for the faster jumper in three minutes and the other award was for artistic expression. At the award ceremony, her entire family stood on their feet and cheered for her, including her brothers. After the competition, Debra ran over to Big Mama and hugged her.
“You did so well baby. I am very proud of you,” she said.
“Big Mama, how do you know if you could not see??” Debra asked.
“Well, just because I don’t see, that doesn’t mean, I don’t know,” she joked.
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