LEUCADIA — For most people, jumping rope is a childhood hobby that quickly fades after grammar school.
That’s around the time Mary Loedel started taking the sport seriously.
Mary, a 14-year-old Leucadia girl, is a competitive jump roper. For the past five years, her mother Dolores has driven her to practice several times a week, first in Coronado and now in Kearny Mesa, where she is a member of the Coronado Speed Spinners.
She and her teammates perform stunts and routines that seem impossible to your average child skipping rope in physical education class.
Recently, the long commutes to practice and the hours of honing her craft paid off, as the San Dieguito High School Academy sophomore-to-be and her partner, La Jolla girl Delilah Delgado, won first place in their division in the World Jump Rope Championship.
“When we found out that we won first place, I was astounded,” Mary said. “It was an amazing feeling and something I won’t forget for a long time.”
She and Delilah competed in a category known as “single rope pairs freestyle,” which basically means that each girl has their own rope and they perform a synchronized routine consisting of stunts and different tricks.
Think of it as a dance routine with a jump rope, Mary said.
The duo scored a 6.6 on their routine, six-tenths of a point higher than the second-place team, and tops among a group of 44 teams.
It’s the pinnacle of Mary’s jump rope career to date, which has been full of appearances in regional and national competitions, but she and her partner had previously come up short in other world championship bids.
“It was really frustrating going a lot of those years without succeeding at that level,” Mary acknowledged. “But I used it as motivation and I think it also motivated me having people that I know on my team succeed and it helped me and my partner keep pushing, so when we finally reached that goal, it was amazing.”
Mary’s passion for jump rope started when she was 10 years old with a jump rope demonstration at her school by a coach from the Coronado Speed Spinners. She quickly realized she had a knack for skipping rope, and the coach encouraged her to pursue the sport competitively.
And so, she did, joining the Spinners — San Diego’s only competitive jump rope club — and fell in love with it.
And while she’s savoring the world championship title, Mary said she isn’t finished.
She and her partner won the world title for their age group, but were too young to qualify for the grand world title, which is essentially the best regardless of age group.
Next year, Mary and her partner will be eligible to compete for the grand world title, and she said she will be ready.
“I hope to make it and do well,” she said.
Meanwhile, she said, she will continue to hone her rope skipping craft while balancing it with her school work and other interests — she said she likes snowboarding, basketball and playing the piano, guitar and ukulele.
Mary said she plans to compete through high school, but isn’t sure if she will continue beyond that. Only a handful of schools have jump rope teams, so most competitive ropers stop after high school.
“But I’m pretty sure I’ll keep doing it for fun, who knows?” Mary said.