Maplewood Middle School’s Double Dutch Team Wins 3 First Place Prizes in State Championship


MMS Swagga Jumpers make a strong showing in the American Double Dutch League state competition

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MAPLEWOOD, N.J. – In their first-ever statewide competition, Maplewood Middle School (MMS)’s Double-Dutch team, the MMS Swagga Jumpers, faced a dozen other teams at the American Double Dutch League – New Jersey Division championship on Saturday. By the time they left the Boys & Girls Club of Newark’s gymnasium, they had won three first-place prizes.

“We are so proud of our MMS Swagga Jumpers,” said MMS Principal Dara Crocker Gronau. “You have all outdone yourselves in giving your all to representing our school with pride and in all of the ways you have affirmed and celebrated African American culture and the African diaspora through your team.”

Gronau thanked the MMS Home School Association for sponsoring the team, and Sixth Grade English Language Arts Teacher Richard Rodriguez and Main Office Secretary Elyssa Pierre-Le Bris for advising the team.

The MMS Swagga Jumpers won the following awards:

  • Sam Herbst (grade 7)  won first place in the Unattached Division.
  • Jayden Sagaille (grade 8), Jaide Hatcher (grade 8), and Seyla Byrne (grade 7) won first place in the Novice Division for seventh and eighth-grade singles.
  • Sam Herbst, Jayden Sagaille, Jaide Hatcher, and Seyla Byrne won first place in the Twin Division.

Sam Herbst and Jayden Sagaille were the team’s jumpers. Jaide Hatcher and Seyla Byrne were the team’s rope turners.

Jaide Hatcher, Jayden Sagaille, Anna Herbst (Sam’s mother), Sam Herbst, Kevin Herbst (Sam’s father), Seyla Byrne, and Dara Byrne (Seyla’s mother), and Elyssa Pierre-Le Bris

“This is truly an outstanding accomplishment,” said Dr. Kevin F. Gilbert, Acting Superintendent of the South Orange and Maplewood School District. “I want to congratulate all of our students who performed exceptionally well, and I thank their teachers, coaches, and families who gave them unfailing support.”

MMS Swagga Jumpers is coached by Kyaisha Max-Macarthy, a.k.a. “Coach K,” who owns and operates Ms. K’s Dance Academy. Since 2010, when she founded the first team in Brooklyn, Max-Macarthy has been establishing “Swagga Jumpers” teams throughout New York and New Jersey. The MMS Swagga Jumpers were founded in Spring 2022 and are now an activity within the school’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Association.

Double Dutch is a jump-rope game in which two long jump ropes are swirled in opposite directions by two rope turners and at least one jumper in the middle.

Kyaisha Max-Macarthy (a.k.a. “Coach K”), Jaide Hatcher, Jayden Sagaille, Sam Herbst, Seyla Byrne, and Dara Byrne (Seyla’s mother)

Pierre-Le Bris, one of the team advisors, said that the game was popularized in predominantly African American inner-city areas and was mostly played by children on sidewalks and streets. Two New York City Police Detectives are credited with establishing Double Dutch as an organized, competitive sport in the early 1970s, Pierre-Le Bris said.

“The Maplewood Swagga Jumpers are part of keeping the sport alive by continuing an activity that was popularized by African Americans,” said Pierre-Le Bris. “Participating in competitions, tournaments, and showcases keeps the sport relevant in our culture.”

In addition to the MMS HSA, the MMS Swagga Jumpers have received support from the Achieve Foundation.

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