The Indy Air Bears jump rope team was founded in 1986 by Niki Glover, then physical education teacher at Arlington Elementary School in Franklin Township, Indianapolis. As an elementary PE teacher, Glover began the team with 14 Arlington students in grades 2-5 as an after-school club for fitness. It was first known as the Arlington Air Bears, but when jumpers remained on the team through middle and high school, the name was changed to the Indy Air Bears. Within a year of it’s inception, the team tripled in size and was being invited to perform at venues all around the Indianapolis area,
The Air Bears continue to be based at Arlington Elementary and are annually comprised of 35-40 boys and girls from grade 3 to college and beyond. The team has served as ambassadors for the American Heart Association in the ‘Jump Rope for Heart’ program since 1987.
Although originally meant to be a performance team, the Air Bears have found great success over the years both in National and International competitions. The team’s first competition was in Richmond, IN in 1987 hosted by the Indiana Thump Jumpers. The Air Bears have hosted their own Indy Open tournament annually since 2000.
The team has performed in over 230 schools nationwide. In addition, they have performed numerous halftime shows at all levels, including annual shows at Ball State, Purdue, Indiana, Butler, and IUPUI as well Indiana Pacers, Indiana Fever, and Indianapolis Colts. They also entertained for two Women’s Final Four tournaments, in Indianapolis and in Nashville, TN. The team has performed in the 500 Festival Parade, and several jumpers have performed in 4 different Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parades as well as in the Rose Bowl Parade.
Team members have performed, competed, and/or instructed in 19 different states as well as in Canada, Bermuda, Australia, Germany, and Norway.
The team has hosted a summer camp each June since 1990, teaching the sport of jump rope to local students. Many team members have also staffed numerous workshops and camps around the world.
Head coach, Niki Glover founded the team in 1986 and has coached the team ever since. Glover received a BA from Franklin College and a MS from Indiana University. She retired in 2014 after 42 years as an elementary physical education teacher in Franklin Township Schools. She has served for over 20 years as a coach, instructor, judge, and tournament director for the sport of jump rope. In 1995, she was on the original planning committee to help establish USA Jump Rope. In 2002, Glover received the Nancy Bell Award presented by the U.S. Amateur Jump Rope Federation for recognition of a significant contribution to the growth of the sport of jump rope. Regionally she has organized and directed annual jump rope tournaments in Indianapolis since 2000. In collaboration with the Indiana State Dept. of Women’s Health, she and her then assistant coach, Lisa Reynolds developed the model for Jump Girls Jump, a statewide initiative to provide fitness and bone health for girls through jump rope. The program was later expanded through Clarian Health into Jump Kids Jump, which encouraged all youth to become more active by jumping rope. In 2010, Glover received the Charles Williams Award, presented by the Indiana Sport Corporation for her volunteer work with local youth in the sport of jump rope.