For almost 10 years, sophomore Jacob Weatherford has wanted to jump rope in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. This year, that dream finally came true.
Weatherford started jumping rope as a second grader in a local club at his elementary school.
After 14 years of jumping — 11 of those competitively — it’s taken him across the globe and introduced him to people he now considers lifelong friends.
“I’ve had the opportunity to compete all over the country in places like Florida, California, North Carolina and Ohio,” said Weatherford. “I also have had the opportunity to compete across the world in Norway, and I was supposed to compete in Canada before the pandemic.”
In addition to competitions, Weatherford also has performed at halftime shows and in parades, festivals, music videos and TV shows.
“It has made me who I am today through the skills and life skills I’ve learned,” said Weatherford. “I’m more confident and more social because of it. I don’t know where I would be without jump rope.”
Weatherford practices and competes as part of a team, Hot Shots TN, based in Franklin, Tennessee. In a normal week, when all his teammates are home, he says they practice three to four times for two or three hours each practice. However, while he’s at college, he tries to jump at least once a week in Ganus Activities Complex.
This year, Weatherford and his team participated in multiple competitions in order to qualify for Team USA. Weatherford qualified to represent the USA at the World Championship in 11 events.
In order to be selected for the Macy’s Parade, Weatherford was required to submit an application. Fortunately, he was selected out of 200 applicants to be on a team of 100 and flew to Ohio for Labor Day weekend to practice. Over the course of the weekend they were taught two routines: one for the parade route and one for Herald Square.
“We literally jumped the entire weekend, all day Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday,” said Weatherford. “We were building up our stamina to see if we could actually do it and also learning the routines super well so that we wouldn’t forget them. It was the most exhausted I’ve ever been at a jump rope event.”
The week of Thanksgiving the team arrived a few days early to practice and eagerly anticipated Thursday morning. After performing the parade routine over the three-mile route, they finished with the Herald Square performance. Although it was exhausting, Weatherford said it was so worth it.
“It was one of the best experiences of my life. Like I said earlier, I wanted to do it 10 years ago, and ever since then I’ve waited for my opportunity. Words cannot express what I was feeling, and to do it with people I love and cherish in my jump rope friends, it means the world to me.”