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About USA Jump Rope
On October 1, 1995 at 12:01 PM, The United States Amateur Jump Rope was formed.
The priorities of the first board were aimed at developing education materials, and the sponsorship of a National Tournament. This became a reality with the first nationals held at Walt Disney World Resort and the finals televised on ESPN in the summer of 1996. A coaches handbook was the first publication approved as the Official USAJR Handbook in 1996, the newsletter was first published, and at this time the website was created.
USAJR has grown in many ways with more publications, a judging manual and video, skills manuals and instructional DVDs, DVDs of all Grand National Tournaments, Nationals Team Show DVDs, workshops locally and internationally, local and regional tournaments, a World Championship held in St. Louis with ten countries represented, camps across the nation. More people are jumping rope than ever before.
Nancy Bell and Neil Keller Awards
History of Nancy and Neil
Nancy Bell was a flight attendant who lived in Massachusetts. She was the secretary of AAU Aerobics for several years until her death from lung cancer in the fall of 1996. She also served as Secretary-General of FISAC from 1995-1996.
She was the fiancée of Josh Henson who was a sports attorney who helped get Jump Rope into the AAU Junior Olympic Games through the sport of Aerobics. She also helped with the founding of FISAC in the summer of 1995.
She was a delightful person who worked very hard to promote both Aerobics and Jump Rope in the AAU and Jump Rope in FISAC. Much of what we now take for granted in the infrastructure of our sport evolved out of her advice and that of Josh Henson.
Her death was quite unexpected as it came very soon after her being diagnosed with lung cancer in the early fall of 1996. Josh requested that both USA Jump Rope and FISAC present a special award in her name at their tournaments.
These awards go to nominees that have made a significant contribution to the growth of jump rope through their years of experience, service to jump rope, dedication to their team or teams, and the differences they have made to the sport of jump rope and other’s lives.
Neil Bradley Keller
Neil Bradley Keller, or Mr. K as he was known to the Skip Wizards, was a phenomenal coach, teacher, father, and friend. Mr. K was diagnosed with Leukemia in 1994 and passed away in December 1995. Jump rope was a different sport back then. He passed away prior to the first National Tournament in Disney World, and was unable to attend the first Junior Olympic tournament due to chemotherapy treatments. He was a young, energetic, and vibrant physical education teacher at a small school in Maryland. Mr.
Keller had seen a jump rope team at a physical education conference and requested the team to come to his school to help promote Jump Rope for Heart. He joined the Maryland State task force to fight heart disease and worked with the American Heart Association in MD to spread the word about jump rope. After the River Valley Skippers came to Valley Elementary school, the Skip Wizards jump rope team was created. Neil Keller inspired the entire school, with over 20 kids joining the team in the first year. Mr. Keller was an excellent baseball player in high school, and could have easily been a high school baseball coach, yet he chose the path less traveled – to start a jump rope team. He chose a sport that would give young people an opportunity to travel, to learn how to be on a team, and a sport where competitions have a friendly and cooperative spirit to them. The Skip Wizards have been in existence longer since he has been gone, yet his memory still lives on with those who had the opportunity to meet and learn from him.
He always told us "Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect." Now he wasn’t telling us that we weren’t allowed to make mistakes and learn new things at practice, he was stressing the importance of not settling with mistakes. For those people who heard this over and over at jump rope practice, it has made a significant impact on their lives. Mr. Keller’s concept can be translated into any aspect of life, and it resonates with those who knew him best.
Mr. Keller was so much more than a coach to those that had the opportunity to learn from him. He wasn’t just a coach – he was involved in his jumpers’ daily lives. He cared about them and was a big part in their lives. Mr. Keller was also our "dad" away from home, which made our parents extremely comfortable since they had no need to worry while we were in his care. They knew he was always taking care of us and had our best interests in mind...even if we were sick or nervous, he always knew how to handle us! We were a real family outside of our families at home!
He was more than just a teacher to those that went to Valley Elementary School. During his fight with Leukemia, the entire school made a large banner, where every student made a handprint in paint on it, and wrote notes to him on the banner. He had made an impact on every student in the school, and he was truly missed.
Mr. Keller passed away at the young age of 32 after an almost year-long fight with Leukemia. He made a tremendous impression on the lives of anyone who interacted with him and continues to influence others today. Those that were on his jump rope team know the influence he has had on their lives, and they continue to try to pass on his legacy, either through jump rope, through their careers, or by being a role model to other people.
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