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Once again, I have to confirm that life doesn’t suck. I recently found myself in the company of one of the coolest people around, and somehow persuaded her to participate in an interview to share with all of you. As you may remember, the idea of these interviews is to introduce you to some of the most badass people in our sport, but not completely focus on the sport itself. Of course, we will talk a little about getting our knees in the breeze, but we will also try to get a feel for who they are in the real world when not wearing their awesome pantz. We take a shot at that over a little wine or whiskey, some photos and a quick interview. This round, I’d like to introduce you to someone with the best “work remote” corporate job in the world, and one of the most humble rock stars in the sky. Readers of Blue Skies Magazine, I hope you guys will enjoy getting to know Miss Nancy Koreen as much as I did.
Zach: Miss Nancy, let’s start off with the basics! Where did you start off in this world, and where have you called home over the course of your life?
Nancy: I was born in South Florida in the town of Hollywood, and I lived there growing up until I went to college in Philadelphia. After college, I moved to Washington, DC and lived in DC and Virginia until a couple of years ago. Currently I live in Eloy, Arizona.
What scares the shit out of you about skydiving?
Everything?! Not really, but I have this weird fear about not being able to cut away from a violent malfunction.
What is the best way to really piss you off?
I get annoyed easily enough, but it’s pretty hard to make me genuinely angry. It takes way too much energy for me to stay really pissed off at someone. Even if I try, it doesn’t last. There are a couple people in my life that I might hold grudges against, but for the most part, I try to remind myself that you never really know where people are coming from.
Outside of skydiving and the tunnel, what do you do for fun? Are you allowed to have a non-skydiving hobby when you live inside Eloy city limits?
You can try, but it isn’t very easy. There isn’t much to do around here other than skydiving and the tunnel. There are some places to go hiking and I try to get out and do that kind of stuff.
Do you have any nicknames? More importantly, are there any stories on how those nicknames might have been earned?
A lot of people call me Pantz. A skydiving friend of mine started calling me that years ago, I think just because it rhymed, and it kind of stuck. Also, Nancy Buge, but that one only my old school skydiving friends understand.
You live so close to Skydive Arizona, do you work for the drop zone?
I have a desk job. I work for USPA doing marketing and PR. I freefly load organize at Skydive Arizona on the side.
Even badasses have their Achilles’ heel; what do you suck at?
Singing! I’ve always thought that if there was one thing that I could change about myself, I would be an amazing singer.
What accomplishment—skydiving or outside of the sport—are you most proud of?
The women’s records always felt like big accomplishments because those were specific skydiving goals I was able to work toward. When you skydive for a long time, sometimes it feels like you’re just having fun and not making big improvements. Those jumps gave me something to train for, work toward and accomplish.
On those cold winter nights in the desert of Arizona, to help warm you up, what is your cocktail of choice?
I’d have to go with red wine.
The times I’ve run into you, you have always seemed very outgoing, do you consider yourself an extrovert?
That’s hard to say. Maybe a little bit of an introvert, but not really. I guess it depends on my mood and the situation. I’m not super shy, but I am also not always going a million miles an hour.
Is there anything that might end up on the menu that you can’t stand to, or won’t eat?
Mayonnaise. So gross. If it’s in something and I can’t taste it, we might be OK. But if I know it’s in there, it’s over.
Let’s turn that one around. What is your favorite thing to eat?
Dessert! Ice cream or homemade cookies.
Do you enjoy cooking? If so what is your best dish?
I do. I don’t have a very extensive repertoire. I have a handful of chicken or fish dishes that are my go-to meals, plus all kinds of salads. I like to cook healthy food and make it really yummy.
Somehow I’m not surprised that you like to eat healthy. You are in incredible shape. Is it safe to assume your fitness is not all due to your healthy eating?
I exercise a lot and try to eat healthy. I normally exercise 5-6 times a week. I try to mix up my workouts and do different types of things so it isn’t super boring. It definitely helps my mental well-being to get the blood flowing.
What might be something people would be surprised to know you do well?
I can juggle and hula hoop at the same time!
Have you had any close calls in the sky?
Sure, lots of them. I’ve definitely gotten lucky more than a few times, but probably nothing worse than most skydivers experience. Funny story: When I had 70 jumps, I landed about 40 feet up in a tree under a round reserve (which I didn’t know was in the borrowed gear I was jumping). That was fun!
Name someone who you can beat up.
I don’t know, I have a pretty mean right hook, but only if I’m punching bags. If I had to hit another person I’d just start laughing.
For the new jumpers out there, would you like to share any tips or advice?
Just keep doing things that you think are fun, and skydive for the right reasons. It’s not all about rushing toward an end goal. You hear a lot of students say they just want to get their A license, as though that’s when they can start having fun. Remember that every skydive is fun! Just enjoy the process of learning and don’t feel like everything is about getting to the finish line. As soon as you figure out one thing, there will be something else that you want to get good at. If you could be good at everything right away, it would be boring!
What did young Nancy want to be when she grew up?
I wanted to be an actress or a figure skater.
Who do you look up to?
I have a couple friends who have faced serious tragedy and heartbreak but who have still found the courage to be happy and love life. I don’t know if I’d be able to do the same thing in their situations. I really admire people who surprise me with their courage, even in small ways on a daily basis. Also, unrelated, my grandma is one of the smartest, strongest, coolest people I know.
If we took a peek into the future a few years, where would we find you, and what might you be up to?
If I knew that, I’d probably already be doing it. I am happy where I am, doing what I’m doing. But who knows, in five years or however long, that may change. At some point I’ll have to figure out my next destination.
What makes your heart race?
Tell me about these trips! Where do you travel?
I love to travel and go places I haven’t been before. I have an ongoing goal to go to at least one new place every year that I have never been, whether it’s in the U.S. or outside of the country. Internationally, Norway was one of the most beautiful places I have jumped. Some places on the top of my wish list are Thailand and an African safari.
What type of music do you listen to?
Modern alternative. Not a fan of Techno or House music.
What is your most important possession? What is the one thing you couldn’t live without?
I have these boxes of photo albums from growing up that have been the only things that have made it with me on all of my moves. Those would be really hard to part with.
Do you have many regrets in life?
Not really. I don’t really believe in regrets, although sometimes that’s hard to stick to. It seems like a pointless waste of energy because you can’t do anything about it. I just try to make better decisions in the future.
Are any other family members into extreme sports? What do they think about you jumping?
No, they are not at all. I’ve been doing this long enough that they are used to it now, but they don’t really get it. I guess they are fine with it. They think it is cool now. After I did my first jump and told my mom about it, she made me promise never to do it again. So I didn’t tell her again for a few months but she eventually figured it out.
For those of us who have been jumping for longer periods of time, I think the things that made us start jumping (bucket lists, fear rushes etc.) are no longer the things that motivate us to keep jumping. What is that like for you? What keeps you shredding?
For me skydiving wasn’t anything I ever really wanted to do or thought about doing. Even after I started, I wasn’t convinced I wanted to keep doing it. It kind of gradually sucked me in. I made tons of amazing friends, and the drop zone where I started jumping was awesome. Plus there is always something new to try, to learn or to do better. I’ve gone through stages of being burnt out, but then something new comes along and draws me back in.
Lobster or shrimp? Shrimp.
Hot or cold? Hot.
Football or soccer? Football.
Sunrise or sunset? Sunset.
Chinese or Italian? Neither.
Introvert or extrovert? Introvert.
Freckles or dimples? Dimples.
Tattoos or piercings? Tattoos.
Spicy or mild? Spicy.
Older or younger? Younger.
Money or time? Time.
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