I didn’t know I wanted to be a skydiver. Truth is, I didn’t even know what I wanted to do with my life at all. All I knew was that I was young, healthy, and had $200, and none of that was guaranteed for tomorrow. So I decided to check skydiving off my bucket list. It was thrilling and fast and fun and a complete blur of an experience and I loved it. I didn’t know at the time that a person could simply BE a skydiver. That was for other people. I didn’t know which people; maybe the military, I thought, but it certainly couldn’t be for me, a 20-year-old engineering student. No one at that DZ looked like me. So I continued doing the occasional tandem for a few years until eventually, I came to the conclusion that there must be a way for me to skydive on my own.
On a chilly spring morning in 2014, I drove myself to Skydive The Ranch to start AFF. As I walked into the largest dropzone I had ever been to, I was thrilled to find that my instructor was a woman. Linda Waz taught the ground school that day, and then I did my first tandem as part of the DZ’s AFF progression. And then the second tandem. When I landed and my instructor asked if I wanted to go again, I answered with a resounding “YES!”. So I did my first jump on student gear. All before the end of the day.
That motivation stuck with me throughout my skydiving career. It was a couple of months before I got my A-license, a few more and I had my own gear, and before I knew it I had a few hundred jumps. I focused on belly skills. Got a coach rating. A tunnel opened near me, so I learned to freefly. I did belly big-way formations. Eventually became an AFF instructor. And through all this, I was a decent canopy pilot. I would land softly on my feet, and I was fairly accurate, but I considered canopy flight to be simply the thing that had to be done at the end of my skydive.
I can’t say exactly when the transition began toward actually enjoying canopy flight. I consider myself to be highly risk-averse. Every risk I take is calculated and thought through. As I became more comfortable flying parachutes over the years, I gained an appreciation for the way they fly. I was fascinated by the way my canopy would respond to different inputs and conditions. And so despite my cautious disposition, over the years I began slowly and carefully learning to swoop.
Then one day I found myself at a swooping competition. I was just planning on watching. I was getting used to a new canopy. I had only swooped a pond a handful of times. I was by no means ready to compete. Yet on a whim, I decided to participate in the beginner class. The goal was to be safe and have fun. With these low expectations, I had a blast and learned more than I could have imagined. I landed (safely) in the pond for the first time, I got some zeroes, and to my surprise, I even scored some points.
So I kept showing up. And I kept getting zeroes. And I kept meeting people and making friends. And I kept getting coaching and I kept working on my canopy skills. Until one day I won a medal. And a few months later, another. And at the end of the season, I had come in third overall for the year. Suddenly I realized I had gone from someone who was just enjoying her journey and her progression to becoming someone who was capable of winning.
In 2022, Curt and Jeannie Bartholomew took me under their wing and I joined Alter Ego’s Junior team, Ryse. I look forward to continuing to train with my teammates, and to watch my progression continue to grow as I move on to the intermediate class. Being the cautious person I am, I don’t have grand ambitions of being the best swooper. I simply want to continue to be a safe swooper, and enjoy my journey wherever it may take me.