(PIX11)–Speed, tricks and dance routines. This isn’t your grandma’s double dutch. It’s a modern take on the classic pastime.
“it gets me like hyped and competitive,” Naja Shabazz said.
Shabazz is a senior on the Bathgate Double Dutch team at Validus Preparatory Academy in the Bronx.
“They’re very special because they take their time out to practice double dutch, they take their time out not to be on the streets,” Latasha Fields-Frisco, the team’s coach, explained. “They’re in school doing something productive with their time.”
That time has translated to winning.
“We’ve gone to the finals three times,” Fields-Frisco added.
A sport that traces back to ancient rope makers but first appeared in the city in 1600s. English settlers saw Dutch colonists playing the game and coined the term double dutch.
It’s been a competitive sport in New York City since the early 1970s when two police officers developed rules, a scoring system and held the first tournament.
While the sport has evolved over time, the effect it has on its participants is what really matters.
“It gets me fit, it’s enjoyable, it’s fun,” Promise Richardson, a member of the team, described.
“In this community we see a lot of dropouts from school, we also seen a lot of teenage pregnancy,” Fields-Frisco said.
Despite the decline in teen pregnancy rates, the Bronx still has the highest rate in New York City with 95.9 pregnancies per 1,000 females, according to the NYC Health Department.
“So by having this double dutch team, bringing these girls together, like a sisterhood,” Frisco-Fields added. “It helps them feel supported and encourage them to do well in school.”
The girls have also taken away many life-long lessons from being part of the team.
“Staying honest with each other and always be loyal to each other no matter if we’re not talking,” Richardson explained. “Let’s say we’re not talking or we all have disagreements and we stop talking, we gotta put our differences aside and still work together as a team.”
A team I wish I could be a part of- too bad my double dutch skills don’t measure up. One thing I learned was that double dutch is tough.
“I usually get stuck in the rope a lot, “ Denaisha Thomas, member of the team, said.
Thomas is new to the team this year but according to her coach, she has picked up the sport very quickly is doing really well.
Double dutch is also doing well around the world.
“It’s not just a new york city thing, it’s nationwide,” Fields-Frisco explained. “A lot of people are jumping, they’re jumping in china.”
You can see the best of the best from all over the world compete right here in New York City on December 8th at the Apollo Center.
Until then, I’m just going to keep practicing with the girls.
PRODUCED BY KIM PESTALOZZI