Shelby Lum / Lantern photographer
Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer won two BCS National Championships as the coach of the Florida Gators. Mike Vrabel, the defensive line coach on Meyer’s staff, won three Super Bowl championships with the NFL’s New England Patriots. Both were among the speakers who entertained OSU students at the Urban Meyer Student Town Hall Meeting on May 15, but they were not the only national champions to take the stage that evening.
Devin Young, a fourth-year in sport and leisure studies, and Chris Brown, a second-year in medicine, both have national championships in jump rope. They displayed their championship-winning ability as one of four opening acts to display their talents prior to the football coaches taking center stage.
Young, who is 21, won the 2008 National Championship for the 15- to 17-year-old age group in single rope pairs freestyle. Later that year, Young placed second in triple jumps and third as a team member in double dutch pairs freestyle, at the International Rope Skipping Federation World Rope Skipping Championships in Cape Town, South Africa.
Young described the trip to South Africa, on which his team also went on a three-day safari and visited local villages, as a “life-changing experience.”
“It’s been really humbling to go to certain places,” Young said. “(I had) never seen things like that before, families that are just not as fortunate as we are. To go and perform for those kids, they were just excited to see what we could do with the jump rope and they just wanted to learn. That was a really rewarding experience.”
Brown, 25, was a member of a national champion teams in 2004 and 2005. He was also a member of a 2003 national champion team in the 4×30 speed relay.
Brown has traveled to numerous foreign countries, including Kenya, Tanzania and Israel, to help start jump rope organizations in those nations. Brown said these experiences have given him a new appreciation for other cultures.
“Those kind of experiences just really open you up, and just learn to be accepting of all different people,” Brown said. “Just seeing it for yourself, and not having to hear about all these things … there’s a lot of media stereotypes, and it’s just interesting to see how so many of those fall very short.”
Young and Brown said they cherished the opportunity to perform in front of fellow OSU students as opening acts for the football coaches.
“It’s really cool to jump in front of your peers,” Young said. “That’s something that we don’t really get a chance to do a lot. Usually we’re jumping for younger kids, or people that we’ve never seen before or will never see us again.”
While at OSU, Young has participated in demonstrations for the Jump Rope for Heart program, a national fundraising program co-sponsored by the American Heart Association and the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. Young said the opportunity to make a difference in others’ lives is more meaningful to him than competition.
“To me, that’s more rewarding than the actual competitive aspect of (jump rope) because you’re actually doing something good rather than just doing competition,” Young said.
Young, who grew up in Torrington, Conn., and is a former OSU cheerleader. He said he chose to quit cheerleading in order to continue pursuing jump rope while focusing on academics. Young is also an employee of OSU’s Department of Recreational Sports.
Young’s journey with jump rope will soon take him to Trinidad and Tobago, a Caribbean country located near Venezuela. Young has been hired as a consultant to the Trinidad and Tobago National Jump Rope Federation.
Brown, a native of Akron, Ohio, said medical school takes up most of his time, but he tries to remain involved with jump roping as much as possible.
“It’s been a great ride and it’s taken me all over the world,” Brown said. “I feel very blessed just to have all the opportunities, and to be able to work with kids. It’s a great way to just promote being healthy and just really impact people’s lives and be a good role model. There’s a lot of kids that look up to you.”