Originally created 08/21/05

County recognizes Wagener's champion jumpers

Double Dutch jump-rope teams from Wagener have made a name for themselves.

In the past five years, Wagener Double Dutch Forces teams have won 10 state titles and three world titles.

They've performed at professional basketball games and on national television.

On Tuesday, Aiken County Council recognized them by passing a resolution commending the team for its accomplishments.

"We probably tell everybody it's Aiken County's best" team, coach Joy Holman said at the meeting. "But, actually, it's Aiken County's only (team)."

Lacie Doolittle, 13, Marquita Davis, 14, and Gariette Kelly, 14, who are pupils at A.L. Corbett Middle School in Wagener, were recognized for their work on the team.

Ty'Yona Milhouse, a former jumper who now coaches, also was spotlighted for her contributions.

"It gave me something to do when everyone was at home on the weekends," said Ms. Milhouse, who graduated from the University of South Carolina Aiken and works as a parole officer in Edgefield County. "Now it's fulfilling to see them doing as well as they're doing."

The tradition of champion rope-jumping teams in Wagener started with Ms. Holman 14 years ago.

The physical education teacher at Cyril B. Busbee Elementary School started teaching the sport after school to area pupils.

The activity keeps the pupils out of trouble and has given countless girls a focus in their lives, Ms. Holman said.

Many of her early pupils have attended college and have gone on to become successful members of the community, she said.

"They do it all," she said of her jump-rope team members. "They're not just learning the ropes of double Dutch. They're learning the ropes of life."

Unlike typical jumping rope, which already requires skill and athleticism, double Dutch requires teams of jumpers using two ropes.

The pace is so fast that the ropes can appear blurry as they're whipped over and under the legs of jumpers.

The county's recognition of the team might have been a long time coming, but at least one member said she's been a fan all along.

"We have known for a long time that Wagener was the best," Councilwoman Kathy Rawls said.

Reach Josh Gelinas at (803) 648-1395, ext. 110, or josh.gelinas@augustachronicle.com


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