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Jump rope changed Judah’s life

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Judah Smith-Dyer’s life was changed by the Bermy Bouncers jump rope team (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

Judah Smith-Dyer graduated valedictorian from Full Sail University in Florida last month, wearing bright pink sneakers.

The shoes were part of his uniform with the Bermy Bouncers jump rope team, run by Bermuda Jump Rope, an organisation he credits with changing his life.

“I wore them to thank Bermuda Jump Rope and the jump rope community,” the 19-year-old said.

Throughout primary and middle school, he was overweight and spent a lot of time on the couch playing Minecraft. He tried football, but was not very good at it, and was not much better at cricket.

“My hand-eye co-ordination is terrible,” Judah said.

When he was 10, his mother, Safiyah Dyer, signed him up with the Bermy Bouncers, run by Sionna Barton.

“We thought jump rope should be a fun little exercise to do on the side,” Judah said. He laughs now thinking about that, because jumping rope was one of the most challenging, and satisfying, things he has ever done.

Judah Smith-Dyer practising with the Bermy Bouncers (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

“On the first day, I walked in and everyone was doing push-ups,” he said. “I thought, is this the right place?”

Judah struggled through every speed drill.

“I might have maybe hit 40 jumps in 30 seconds, which was not very good,” he said.

Luckily, many of his team-mates were also beginners.

“Our team captains, Yushef Bushara and Sebastian Lee, were good, and they kept everyone else encouraged and motivated,” he said.

He stuck with the activity only because his mother told him he could quit after one year. However, when the period ended, he was having fun and feeling a little stronger.

“A teacher in school said I was looking good,” he said. “I suddenly realised I was getting more fit.”

Judah Smith-Dyer practising flying high with the Bermy Bouncers (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

“I thought after the second year I will be done,” he said.

He still struggled to keep up through the first half of year two.

Judah joked that he was not convinced that he could do jump rope at all until he became captain of the team, his fourth year in.

He said: “Until then, I was thinking of jump rope as something that was fun, that I had to do. When I became the captain, my mentality switched up. I thought, maybe this is something that I should do. I wanted to do something to help the other children in there.”

Jumping rope helped him with mental agility and confidence.

“When you are jumping rope, one side of your brain is thinking about the trick you are going to do next, while the other side is managing the trick you are doing right now,” he said.

He was on the honour roll throughout his school career, and in high school, was a dual enrolment student at The Berkeley Institute and Bermuda College.

Since then he has been a volunteer coach with the Bermy Bouncers, and has also competed overseas with them, many times.

During his last year at Full Sail, he kept practising, but was not jumping as much as he once had.

“I came home in December and my coach asked if I wanted to take part in the North Carolina Classic,” Judah said. “Right up until the competition, I was in the gym every day.”

One of his challenges was a backflip in his freestyle routine.

“I had a mental block about it, and could not quite get it down,” he said.

He did not nail it until he arrived in North Carolina for the event.

He won first place in a two-by-three double-unders competition where two people jump for 30 seconds each with the rope going under them three times with each jump. He also won a number of other medals in categories such as freestyle and speed-jumping.

“Everyone did really well,” he said.

Judah Smith-Dyer doing a handstand while jumping rope (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

His team-mates also took home prizes.

Last year, he became a judge for one jump rope contest overseas.

“I don’t remember where the competition was now,” he said. “I flew away to meet the team. The night before the competition, I took a course. The next day I was the lead judge.”

He does not know how he became the lead.

“Maybe they drew straws to determine that,” he said.

He has spent the past two years getting his bachelor’s degree in computer science.

“Those years were tough,” he said. “There were a lot of late nights trying to get a piece of code to work.”

This summer he is working at King Edward Memorial VII Hospital in data.

In September, he is headed to St Andrew’s University in St Andrew’s, Scotland, to get a master’s in data health.

“That will bring elements of data science and health together,” he said.

After university he wants to work for King Edward VII.

“I want to provide services that can help people,” he said. “I like the medical field because it can help people very quickly.”

One of his disappointments, however, is that he has not been able to get a scholarship for his master’s.

When he graduated from Full Sail, he had a 3.93 grade point average, and was admitted to the National Honours Society in the United States. In 2022, he won a Teen Services award for his athletic accomplishments.

“My sister is in her first year of university, and it is a financial strain on my parents,” he said.

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Published June 25, 2024 at 8:00 am (Updated June 26, 2024 at 8:06 am)

Jump rope changed Judah’s life

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