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Ligonier resident Whitsel named to USA Jump Rope all-stars

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By Cami Dibattista
Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, 5:09 p.m.

USA Jump Rope, an organization dedicated to sharing the experience of jumping at a competitive level, has accepted a local student as a member of their 2013 all-star team.

As applicants from all over the country are considered, and fewer than 20 are generally chosen, this is an exclusive opportunity for Amy Whitsel, 16, of Ligonier who has been jumping rope since age five. “It's an honor and a privilege,” Whitsel said, “I've aspired to be a part of the team since I was young.”

The all-star team is a group of talented youth that provides representation of the sport at a national and international level by giving live performances and teaching workshops and seminars. They are top notch performers whose talents have been showcased on a variety of television shows such as The Ellen Show, America's Best Dance Crew and Martha Stewart.

“Amy is one of the jumpers who has really come up in the sport recently,” said staff associate for USA Jump Rope, Becky Zelewski of Huntsville, Texas, “She's really talented and will make a nice addition to our team.”

Whitsel found out last month that she was accepted onto the team for the standard one year term. A total of 18 youths were accepted for this year's USAJR all-star team. A rigorous application process must be completed, including submitting a video and a written application. Jumpers also must hold a national or world championship medal in the sport.

“There are so many criteria,” said Whitsel's mother and coach, Laurie Whitsel. “You have to have a presence and be able to speak well to the media. They want to make sure you can represent the team and sport well. It's a great honor for Amy to have been chosen. I'm very proud of her.”

Whitsel is a member of the local jumping group the HT High Flyers, which Laurie started 10 years ago when her daughter first showed an interested in jumping rope. Laurie Whitsel, director of policy research for the American Heart Association, organized the group as a way for children to have fun while being physically active. The coed team has thrived over the years and includes both a demonstrative group and one that competes with other jumpers around the country.

Amy and the HT High Flyers conducted a free community demonstration Feb. 22 at the Ligonier Town Hall. The annual event featured a variety of performances — from the beginners up through those jumping at a competitive level.

“It's a chance for us to show the skills we've built throughout the year,” said Whitsel. “It's a really good way to show the town what we can do.”

Whitsel said she hopes her participation with both the HT High Flyers and the USAJR's all-star team will help her gain perseverance and dedication that will benefit her for the rest of her life.

“I'm excited to travel with my friends and be an ambassador for the sport,” Whitsel said.

Cami DiBattista is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.



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