For Chris Rosario, watching a jump-rope show at his elementary school for the first time was like watching fireworks.
“The show made my jaw drop, so I picked up a jump-rope a week after that,” said Rosario, an 18-year-old School for Advanced Studies senior at Wolfson Campus.
Rosario was hooked.
“He came home that day and told me that he wanted to jump,” said his mother, Debra Cleveland. “All I said was that if he was dedicated to the sport, I would be too.”
Soon after, Rosario started performing with the Kendale Elementary School jump-rope team. At the time, the 7-year-old didn’t know the sport would become more than a hobby.
Eleven years later he is an integral part of the local jump-rope team the Miami Supersonics. He has been with the team since 2012.
“I knew that I was part of this team and I felt like I belonged there,” Rosario said.
This summer, the Miami Supersonics won first place at the 2017 Amateur Athletic Union Junior Olympics hosted in Detroit, Michigan.
Rosario placed second in the solo jump rope division and his team also broke the national record for double dutch speed. Double dutch is a jump rope category that features two long jump ropes being turned in opposite directions while one or more players jump them at the same time.
The Miami Supersonics, founded in 2000, range in ages from 7 to 18 years old. Rosario is the oldest member of the group. They are coached by former Kendale Elementary teacher Dillon Bethell.
“He does not like to lose and he’s very tough on the kids,” Cleveland said in describing Bethell’s coaching style. “He’s rough, but between 4 to 6 p.m., my son is his property. He can scream and yell at him and be firm. At 6:01 p.m., he’s my property again.”
Bethell considers Rosario “a son” and has seen his dedication and perseverance to the sport increase throughout the years.
“He’s a natural born leader,” Bethell said.
Rosario’s concentration is on double dutch speed and single rope freestyle. He practices with the team four times a week for two hour sessions.
“He’s always had a natural talent to jump,” Bethell said. “But about four years ago, he started to stick out. He turned into a speed demon. He became a light switch. He was that fast.”
As Rosario improved, so did the Miami SuperSonics.
The team won the 2015 National Level USA Jump Rope Championship for having the best double dutch speed team. They also placed in the Top 12 category nationally in 2014 for double dutch.
At that event, Bethell said Rosario was frustrated and not performing well. When it was time for his solo category, he surprised everyone.
“You could see it in his body language and he started to lash out and he had a speed event,” Bethell said, “but he nailed it. He hit 92-93 steps in 30 seconds.”
Rosario has continued to give his fans plenty to celebrate.
“I scream his name from the stands and he hates it,” Cleveland said. “But he’s my son. He’s my baby.”
In October and November, he’s flying to Detroit and Connecticut, respectively, for jump-rope workshops to teach single rope and single rope freestyle. He hopes to compete at the collegiate level after the Miami Supersonics.
Rosario, a biology major, is also excelling academically. He is simultaneously taking a full compliment of high school and college courses through his rigorous SAS program. It will allow him to attain his associate in arts degree from Miami Dade College in April and a high school diploma in June.
He plans to study medicine after graduation. Rosario aspires to become a pediatric surgeon.
“One thing about Chris, he has a tremendous heart, and he’s so smart, it’s beyond me” Bethell said. “Wherever he goes, he’s going to give it his all.”