One, two. One, two. One, two. One… This is the sound of young ladies working together to execute perfect jumps, twists, and turns. As a child, I remember being elated when it was time for recess and lunch. Not just because my belly was grumbling for that delicious cafeteria food. It was play-time! That meant it was time to get ready for an intense game of hand-ball, grab some of my girlfriends for a round of hopscotch, and get the pink, green, and yellow chalk out to draw on the playground field. Though I loved a game of hand-ball and seeing who could skip the fastest during a game of hopscotch, my first love was double-dutch. Girlll when I tell you my friends and I were overjoyed every time we had the chance to jump rope, we couldn’t get enough! There was something about it that intrigued us to play every day.
When I found out that Lifetime released a new reality show (Jump) documenting the lives of the hottest (and when I say hottest, I mean HOTTEST) jump rope teams in the country, I said “Yassssss”!!! We are getting blessed with yet another family show to add to our DVR’s. Floyd-Little Double Dutch a.k.a FLDD are widely known as the face of double-dutch and have been seen on the 2014 BET Awards opening up for Pharrell and Missy Elliot. The team also performed at the White House Easter celebration which is something to brag about!
I had the opportunity to chat with Quaniee Floyd and Laila Little, the two coaches of FLDD, and pick their brain on their team, how FLDD got started, and a little about their past and future.
Tell me about the first time you started double ditching as a child.
Quaniee- I started jumping rope at the age of five. I actually got into the boys and girls club. You were supposed to be six years old with a legal membership but I had neither the age or the membership and ever since I stated I just never put the ropes down.
Laila- I started at the age of 8. I also started at the boys and girls club. The reason why I started was because my mom was a single mom and she would come pick me up every day late from school so one day I realized that all the kids would walk around the corner to the boys and girls club. I was like “well maybe I should walk around to see where the heck these kids are going.” So that same day I walked around to the boys and girls club and ironically I was already a member because of the educational program I was involved in that automatically gave you a membership to the boys and girls club. So there was no problem for me to go in the club. My friends told me they were involved in the double-dutch team and they told me to come try out. So I tried out and we took it from there. We started competing in 4th grade and jumping in 3rd grade. The first year we went to the tournament, we made it to the finals. That’s where we made a name for ourselves, a name for Jersey.
What was it about double ditching that made you want to move forward?
Quaniee- Double-dutch is actually my outlet as a kid at the age of fifteen. The only thing that kept me straight was my team members, my coach, and of course my mom and sisters but outside of my household my double-dutch family actually encouraged me to come back, continue jumping and continuing school. I feel like I had a family outside of my family and it actually encouraged me to do more so I just want to share my story with the youth in my city and continue to do well.
Laila- I think it was the sisterhood and the friendship that we built on the double-dutch team. This was actually more important than the sport itself. However I love double-dutch to death because I was always an athletic person. I did track, cheerleading and I grew to love double-dutch the same way I loved cheerleading because I get to do the same moves in cheerleading but in the ropes. So this competitiveness, that’s what I love about double-dutch but more importantly I think it was about the friendship and the world will see that we are still friends. Quaniee and I are still friends and we actually have another friend that’s around who’s our assistant and on our board. The friendship that we built made us stay together and stay on the team.
Tell me about Floyd Little and when did you know you wanted to form your own team?
Laila- Quaniee and I knew that we were a little different than everybody else. I think we took our passion for double-dutch a little more serious than everybody else. Everybody loved double-dutch but we were obsessed with it. And like Quaniee said we knew what double-dutch did for us. It kept us off the street. It kept us in a positive environment. We said “you know what? We want to give back to kids the same way it gave back to us.” But differently. We wanted to make sure that we created an environment where they can take double-dutch to the next level. Our coach was more focused on doing double-dutch competitively but go to school, go to work. But she meant well. I won’t take anything away from her but her vision was to make sure my girls have an education and a good job and be productive citizens. However me and Quaniee say if this is your passion lets teach our girls to use their passion to create a lifestyle and career for themselves. And that’s what we wanted to do and how we wanted to give back to the girls and boys.
Is it key to have the same turners for a jumper? Do you all compete in competitions or do you pick and choose the strongest members?
Laila-We bring our organization up into the competitive team and the exhibition team. The competitive team is broken up into grades. Three or four girls have to be in the same grade so that’s how we break it up. Quaniee and I look at the potential as far as who will be a great jumper, who will be a great turner and do tricks. That’s how we put our team together but they all have to be in the same grade.
When the opportunity presented itself with Lifetime, were you actively looking and presented to Lifetime or did they find you and present the opportunity to you?
Quaniee- They actually approached us. We can’t believe what is taking place in front of our eyes. They interviewed teams from all over the world and when they came to Floyd little they was like alright we will interview someone else” but they couldn’t get passed us. They were like “we love you guys. We love what you’re doing. We love the movement and we want to be a part of it.” So that’s how Lifetime came about.
Are males part of FLDD?
Quaniee- Yes we have boys and girls. The age rank is 3rd grade to college. We have a summer camp every year where we allow five year olds to come.
How many members are part of FLDD?
Quaniee- We have about 25-30 kids.
When girls (or young men) at home watch the show, what message do you want them to get out of it?
Laila- Well for one I want the world to know that double-dutch is a sport. It takes the same strength and it takes the same endurance. It takes the same effort for basketball as it does for double-dutch. It’s the same thing. We want the world to know this is no game. We take it serious. I’m sure Quaniee wants to answer.
Quaniee- We also want girls to know that when somebody tell you that you can’t know that you can because there’s so many people that told us that we can’t or we won’t go far or we should give up on this double-dutch. “Y’all still jumping rope?” nine years later we are still jumping rope and now the world gets to see what we do for these kids on an everyday basis. It’s not just about you taking care of your home like were taking care of other children. I can’t sleep at night knowing the same kids that walk the same street as my kids aren’t eating or not knowing where their next meal is going to come from or how they’re getting to school or how they’re getting school uniforms. So our job is bigger than jumping rope. I just want the world to know you can’t just turn your back on someone’s child because it’s not yours. “Each one. Teach one.”
Laila- this is not just a good look or puts the highlight on FLDD. This puts the highlight on the double-dutch world overall. Finally the world will get to see what we do with these two little ropes.
What’s next for FLDD?
Laila- We’re starting our own league. The other leagues are great and we love them and we’re still going to participate but again we have a different vision and we want to keep this thing going. So we feel like if we want to keep it going we have to start our own league.
Quaniee- And what’s next for FLDD is we want to be able to travel to Africa and train those kids on how to jump double-dutch and you never know, one day you’ll see them in a tournament or on TV who don’t even know what the ropes look like let alone feel like. We want to give them the same opportunity as the kids we deal with every day here.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Quaniee- I want to add this TV show that Lifetime thought of is a great idea and a great opportunity for everyone. I just want to add that it’s all love. It’s not people sitting here talking down on other people’s teams and just the FLDD is the greatest. Were the greatest not just because we jump the fastest or have better tricks but because were the greatest because we dig deep in our kid’s lives. Outside of practice, we actually go home with them, not necessarily physically but we go home with them and we talk to them and we get down to where their anger might be coming from. “Why weren’t you yourself today in practice?” we sit down and have conversations with our young boys and girls. I just want people to know that FLDD isn’t just about double-dutch. Were so unique because we’re a family. We’re going to continue to be that way with the hate and with the love. We don’t turn anyone away. That’s what FLDD stands for.
Laila- We want to thank ThinkFactory Media, the production company that actually shot with us. They are awesome. They are really nice people.
The reason I love this show is because it teaches young women and men that there is more to life than gangs, violence, and turnin’ up. Why not teach our future generation that they can still have fun jumping rope while promoting a healthier lifestyle? Double-dutch isn’t just about twists and turns, but educating children how to be team players and striving to be the best people they can be. As the ladies of FLDD said, double-dutch isn’t only about who can do the best tricks and jump the fastest, but being persistent and not letting any obstacles stand in your way of success.
RnB Magazine would like to thank Quaniee and Laila for the interview and allowing us to get to know the infamous leaders and innovators that they are. With that being said, ladies and men, remember to JUMP for your goals and always REACH for the stars.
Check out FLDD on Fridays at 10PM ET/PT.
By: Simone Grant