Jump Start

This world-class rope jumper loves the competition—in fact, if they ask, he even helps to train them.

Kyle’s red, white, and blue rope whizzes through the air, hitting the ground rhythmically. Up, over, up, over, crisscross, and bam! He’s handstanding after an amazing display of jump rope finesse.

Even though he has more awards than any other male jumper in the world, you’ll never hear Kyle Hair broadcasting his accomplishments to anyone. In fact, you practically have to drag his impressive resumé out of him. His friends and family, however, are always more than willing to tell you about all the great things Kyle does.

Now 18, Kyle sprang into action at a very early age. It all started when he was in kindergarten and a U.S. jump rope team performed at his school in Bellevue, Washington.

“He came home with his eyes as big as saucers and said, ‘Mom, can we buy a rope?’” says Kyle’s mom, Chandra. He practiced and practiced and made it when he tried out for the team.

After winning his first international title when he was in second grade, Kyle and his team, Hot Dog USA, have gone on to win five grand-national titles, and they have won the world championships three times. Kyle was also named the most valuable player for the United States in his sport.

Despite all the first-place ribbons and trophies, Kyle says, “Probably one of the awards I’m most proud of isn’t one of my first-place ones. It’s the Joel Farrell Award.” Only one athlete of all the participants in all the sports is chosen each year to receive this award for overall good sportsmanship and athleticism at the Junior Olympics.

When Kyle and his team aren’t competing, they do demonstrations for “Jump Rope for Heart.” The team members try to raise awareness about heart disease and how exercise can combat some health problems. “Over the years we’ve helped to raise money for schools and millions of dollars for heart research,” Kyle says.

“We get a lot of chances to travel and teach,” he says. “Jumping is great for you, and it’s just a lot of fun.” Along with touring school assemblies and doing demonstrations, the team also runs a Hot Dog club after school for children who want to learn how to jump like the pros. About 50 kids come each day.

But Kyle not only coaches children—and this might sound a little crazy—he also trains his team’s competitors! “We have a standing offer to teach. Any team who wants us just calls us.” He says part of the reason they teach is to promote rope jumping, a relatively new professional sport. It’s also just fun to teach, Kyle says. “Each year we notice the level of competition getting harder. It’s more fun that way—to get to go and have a challenge.” Kyle says he doesn’t need to keep what he does a secret; he just needs to do what he does the best.

And so far, he is the best. Kyle is not only in great physical shape, but he has a lot of bounce in his step where his spirituality is concerned, too. “I’ve had a lot of positive experiences being in the Church. We have good standards, and people notice that,” he says. “I’ve had lots of people talk to me just to say, ‘Oh, that’s really cool that you have chosen to be that way.’”

His dad, Roger, says, “It’s been very interesting to watch the influence Kyle has had on his friends at school and also on his teammates. They say they can count on him and on his standards, and they know exactly what his morals are.”

His teammates can also count on Kyle not to jump ship when things get hard. Both Kyle’s dad and his team say he is one of the most dedicated people they know. His love of the sport is one of his main drives, but he counts on prayer and the Spirit to help him do his best. “You don’t pray to win, obviously,” he says. “But it’s good to have comfort and to be able to go out there and feel calm.”

Kyle doesn’t admit to having a lot of hard times, even counting the times he falls. “I can’t be disappointed because I have to get up and do it again the next day. You’ve just got to put it behind you and take it with a smile.”

Since he’s going to Brigham Young University this year and then on a mission when he’s 19, Kyle’s high-flying days on the Hot Dog USA team will be coming to an end. But he says he’s going to find a way to keep jumping. And knowing how dedicated and driven he is, Kyle’s family and friends are sure he will keep hitting new highs, both physically and spiritually.

[photos] Photography by Mark A. Philbrick and Shanna Ghaznavi