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Not for Profit: Love City Leapers

Jan. 7, 2007 — Members of the Love City Leapers jump-rope team bubble with enthusiasm as they get ready for their performance at the annual St. John Christmas party in Cruz Bay Park.
"I like to do tricks and I like to be in the parade," says Mirisa Clendinen, 7 and a half. Her twin sister, Aysha, says this was the second time she's been in a parade.
And Tracy Powell, 8, says that in addition to enjoying jumping rope, she also likes getting the exercise.
The Love City Leapers are 35 strong. The team got its start in 2000 when former St. John resident Megan Hodge came home to visit, with the North Carolina-based and nationally recognized Bouncing Bulldogs jump-rope team in tow.
Bouncing Bulldogs team coach Ray Frederick offered five scholarships to their camp for St. John youths, says Love City Leapers Coach Patrice Harley. St. John residents Viveca Hodge-Webster and Ivy Scatliffe agreed to serve as adult coaches for the fledgling team, with Harley and Lisa Penn lending support.
In July 2002, Jaurel Harley, LaShaunda Mobley, Dietra Powell and Latifah Lanclos went off to the Bouncing Bulldogs camp.
"They learned some tricks," Harley says.
Viveca Hodge-Webster took another group to the camp in November 2002, returning home with information on how to get the team on a firm footing.
The group still operates on a shoestring budget, Harley says, but gets donations from various St. John groups, including the Business and Professional Women. They pay for uniforms, jump ropes, trips to jump-rope events in the U.S. and British Virgin Islands and summer jump-rope camp on the mainland.
The kids raise money by holding jump-rope events, and local businesses give them discounts to help defray expenses, she says.
Membership in the Love City Leapers provides several benefits for the kids, Harley says.
"It helps the kids achieve confidence," she says, adding that it also helps them learn discipline while improving their coordination and brain power.
The youths may attend practices for a month before making a commitment to the team to make sure they're really interested. Lots of kids learn the easy tricks with no trouble, but once they're on to the harder ones that require practice, some lose interest, Harley says.
"Lots of kids like the camaraderie, but they don't like to work at getting the tricks done," she says.
Dues are $5 a month. The team has found it especially hard to get boys interested because they and their parents view it as a girls' activity, but Harley says it's definitely an activity boys would enjoy.
The Love City Leapers practice from 5 to 7 p.m. every Monday and Wednesday at the Housing, Parks and Recreation building across from the fire station.
"Everybody is welcome," Harley says. "You don't have to know how to jump rope."
Call Harley at 776-6643.
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