(I’ll pause for a moment while you get that godawful Europe song out of your head. Gone? Okay, let’s proceed.).
So I had this whole draft written, all about the experience of being on my first for-reals (with training and coach and all) 4-way team, but I scrapped it because all I really feel like writing is SQUEEE I LEAVE FOR NATIONALS IN JUST OVER A WEEK!
What once seemed so far away when we began to form this team just over a year ago is within sight. Our final camp is done – we did four awesome days at Skydive Perris with about the best weather we could have hoped for in August. Reasonable temps (high 80s/low 90s) and light to moderate winds for pretty much the whole time (with a little of the afternoon craziness, but nowhere near as bad as it can be there in the summer). I even pushed through the last two days with a lovely little head cold, which drained all of my life force/energy, but at least still allowed me to clear my ears and keep jumping. Apparently I was “patient zero” on my team since all four of my teammates succumbed later in the week. If you had any doubt that skydiving teams are like preschools when it comes to germ propagation, well, think again.
And now we wait. Will we medal? Probably not, at least not based on our team averages and the typical winning averages in past years. Will we hit the average we’d set as a goal at the beginning of the year? Maybe – I firmly believe that if we skydive as well as we can, it’s within our reach. We’ve reached it on some training days, so we’ve shown we can do it.
I’ll end this post with my plug for USPA Nationals as one of the best skydiving events of the year in the U.S., every year. Someone once called it the “boogie for type A personalities” and that kind of fits. More than anything, though, I encourage people who are interested in competition to go as soon as you can swing it. By this I mean – go as soon as you you’ve met the minimum requirements for competing in your chosen discipline (which vary, but are outlined in the USPA Skydiver’s Competition Manual), go as soon as you can swing it financially/logistically. Don’t wait till you think you’re good enough to win a medal. If you’re interested in competing, or even if you’re just interested in getting better at your chosen discipline (training and competing can be a great way to make forward strides), go! The energy there is amazing, the chance to rub elbows with the best in the sport is unparalleled, and you might just find a random top-level competitor watching your team creep and asking “You guys mind if I offer some advice?” The generosity demonstrated by the big names, giving back to those who are just coming up, is pretty cool and amazing to watch, and not something you’ll find in most sports.