In 1990, Lynn Kelley, a physical education teacher at South Lebanon Elementary (formerly located in the Village of South Lebanon), noticed how much the children loved playing with jump ropes. At the end of every year, Kelley always hosted an exposition show for kids to highlight their skills, and that year, she decided to get a group of girls together who liked to jump rope. She put on some music and choreographed a little performance with the ropes, and before she knew it, the girls were a hit.
Initially, the group was only allowed to perform for the Kings JV basketball game half-time. But after receiving an invitation from Miami University’s basketball team to perform and receiving rave reviews – the team was invited to perform at the King’s Varsity basketball games – plus many, many other venues. The Firecrackers have performed on the David Letterman Show, marched in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and even a presidential inauguration. Each year the Firecrackers perform at dozens of highschool, college, and NBA venues. In 2009, Mrs. Kelley was named among 10 of America’s “Most Caring Coaches” by USA Today Weekend Magazine out of 1,503 nominees. The legacy that Coach Kelley established is one that we will continue to strive to maintain and build upon.
Coach Shaun Hamilton
Shaun will be leading the Firecrackers beginning with the 2023-2024 season. He may be a “new” coach to the team but his involvement with the Firecrackers goes back to when he was 16 and began helping Coach Kelley. He has consulted and led clinics for the Firecrackers throughout the years.
He began his own jump rope/rope skipping career as a young athlete in 1989. As an athlete he claimed US national titles in 1999 and 2003 and a FISAC-IRSF World Championship title in 1999 St. Louis, Missouri. Shaun has served as coach for a local club, US board member, committee chair and Team USA Head Coach.
In 2009 Mr. Hamilton co-founded the World Jump Rope Federation and served as its Chair since 2010.
Coach Shaun is the current President of the International Jump Rope Union (IJRU). The IJRU holds its World Championships biannually featuring the top jump rope athletes in single rope and double dutch disciplines across the globe. These athletes compete in a preliminary round to secure a spot in the finals, and ultimately, compete for the title of World Champion. In 2023, over 1,200 athletes participated representing 27 countries.
Coach Shaun teaches at the University of Dayton and is currently working on his PhD in Sports Ethics.
Coach Lynn Kelley
Lynn Kelley, the transformative coach and founder of the Kings Firecrackers Jump Roping Team, retired in 2023. Her retirement marks the end of an era in which she significantly impacted both the sport and the empowerment of young women.
Based in Ohio, the Firecrackers quickly gained national attention. They’ve been spotlighted on major media platforms like CBS News and have graced esteemed stages such as Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade and Rupp Arena.
Kelley’s coaching philosophy was rigorous, focusing on discipline, teamwork, and a level of commitment often expected from elite athletes. This approach has led to not only breathtaking performances but also a nurturing environment where young girls could grow both personally and athletically.
The Firecrackers stand out for their innovative approach to jump roping. Under Kelley’s guidance, the sport transcends mere athleticism and becomes an art form, complete with intricate choreography and flawless execution. This unique style has challenged traditional perceptions of what jump roping can be.
Beyond the athletic realm, the team has served as role models for young women, showcasing what can be accomplished through hard work and collaboration. Their high-profile performances, like those at the Army-Navy Basketball Doubleheader, have additionally made them ambassadors for their sport, expanding its influence and appeal.
As she steps into retirement, Kelley leaves behind a profound legacy that will continue to shape the future of jump roping and inspire the young women who follow in her footsteps.
Each year jumpers are paired up (sometimes a Big might have “twins” and be assigned two littles.) Each pair will exchange gifts at the Christmas Party, celebrate their birthdays, and exchange end of year gifts. More importantly, they will get to know each other throughout the year. Littles are encouraged to ask their “Big” if they have any questions or need extra assistance with a skill.
Bigs who have a first-year little traditionally get a small gift for the little to mark their first public performance.
Many Bigs/Littles will snap a photo together at each performance. A small photo album of these can make a cute gift for the year end gift exchange.
In addition, 3 black stripes are placed on the other handle of the “practice” rope. Jumpers who are acknowledged for acts or attitudes of excellence during practices will be told by the Coach to “take off a stripe.” The goal is to have all 3 three black stripes removed by the end of the season.
8th Grade Leadership Tasks
Birthday (Half-birthday) Celebrations
Whenever a team member has a birthday, parents of the team member are free to bring in some small treats (cookies, cupcakes, or candy…) to distribute at the end of practice.Bigs/Littles usually bring in a small gift for the birthday person.
The team will sing “Happy Birthday” with an extra verse of “Skip around the room.” (Tradition: Firecrackers who are also in choir are asked to start the songs.)
Naming of Long Ropes
Practice Incentive Awards
Etiquette Instruction Lunch
Team members may be presented with special service opportunities during the year. The Firecrackers have participated in many outreach and community events such as The American Heart Association Exhibition, The American Diabetes Foundation Fundraiser, and The Anthony Munoz Foundation Fundraiser. Most recently the team had an opportunity to pack food for the Joshua’s Place charity organization.
If you are aware of a charity where the Firecrackers may serve for a few hours, please reach out to Coach Shaun.
Team Dinners/Hotel Games
For special overnight trips, it is nice to be able to share a meal or late-night snack (think pizza) at the team hotel. It is even more fun if the jumpers get to participate in some organized games in the lobby or an available conference room.
A fun evening for Firecrackers to get together, share a meal, and exchange Big/Little gifts.