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April 1, 2009

ULM nursing major to show Ellen DeGeneres “the ropes”

Anyone with entrenched assumptions that jumping rope is sissified might re-think their position after checking out the moves of Chad Rankin, a second-level nursing major at the University of Louisiana at Monroe.

Rankin, a contender in the U.S. Jump Roping Grand Nationals, has literally taken the sport to new heights.

In fact, the twenty-one-year-old from Haughton so impressed his skills upon producers with the Ellen DeGeneres show that he is flying out to Los Angeles today to meet the daytime diva herself for a Thursday taping of the program. The show will air Monday, April 13 (rescheduled from April 6.)

Program officials first spotted Rankin on the video sharing Web site, YouTube, where videos demonstrating his athletic prowess have received thousands of hits.

Rankin, who first joined his school’s jump rope team in the fifth grade, said competitive jump rope – a sport that is part extreme athletics and part art form – is garnering more positive attention every year.

An award-winning and fast-paced documentary about the sport was recently released, in which several teams are followed as they push their physical and psychological limits in pursuit of winning the World Rope Skipping Championship.

And a 2007 Disney channel original movie now out on DVD features a male lead who is training to become a boxing champ, but becomes intrigued by the cool moves involved in Double Dutch.

The newfound respect for the sport might be payback for those times when Rankin was mercilessly teased for his passion. Fortunately, attitudes changed for the better when his team put on the performance of their lifetime during his middle school years.

“We were the talk of the school for days after that,” said Rankin, with a smile.

Rankin sincerely hopes to see competitive jump rope become an Olympic sport and is thrilled at the chance to show the naysayers across the nation how tough it can be.

And who knows? An appearance on one of daytime television’s most popular programs may be all the endorsement he needs.

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