Jan 10, 2013, 5:33 PM
Post #1 of 8
Our unknown influence...
Recently I was reminded of the importance of instructional staff to new jumpers AFTER their formal instruction. I corresponded with a jumper who I had coached between AFF and his A-license. He has subsequently medaled at the USPA National Championships.
I share with you this correspondence NOT to stroke my ego, but to remind all of us of the impact that we can have on new jumpers in INformal ways. I am profoundly humbled by this message.
========== I sent this message:
You often tell folks that were it not for my coaching you would not be a skydiver. Why? I don't remember you having any great difficulty that required special work. I appreciate your kind words.... But I don't remember why.
It wasn't just that you did an awesome job as a coach. It was that even after I had completed the coaching program, you always found me every time I was on the DZ and went over my proficiency card and made sure I was doing what I needed to do. The fact that you became a friend and not just a paid instructor and offered to jump with me on your own nickel.
Had you not stayed on my ass to continue improving and make sure I wasn't wasting skydives, I may have gave up. I was actually completely terrified. I made it a personal challenge to at least achieve my A license. I wanted to quit many times. Without ever knowing it, you actually helped me to keep going.
This should serve to remind all of us coaches and instructors of the impact that we have on new jumpers at times & in ways that may not be obvious to us. It is also a reminder that students may have terror well hidden, but very active.
Not to dwell on the negative but I think it's worth the time to mention the other side of the coin here; those instructors that only give a shit about their paycheck. Far too many of us don't have time for those that aren't paying for our services. But I don't think that it's always intentional. Hopefully this story can serve as a reminder to MAKE the time for younger jumpers. Great job.
I had an interesting talk with a guy I taught while we were in college back in the late 70's.
Ran into him at the Nationals a few years ago...I mentioned that damn few of 'us' were still jumping from back then. He thanked me for going the 'extra mile' to work on some problems he was having back then.
IIRC he was having some stability problems right off static-line...one even resulted in a 2 out entanglement.
He was a tall skinny rather soft-spoken kid with coke bottle glasses, the epitome of the 'engineering nerd' with little if any physical ability from a sports point of view.
He motivated though, ya could tell he really wanted this.
I followed him down on the entanglement jump, pretty hairy and all things considered he was lucky to walk away without a scratch. Thing is...he wasn't scared as we walked back in, he was pissed. He knew exactly what went wrong & why, we worked on things for a long time back then and he now has about twice as many jumps as I do...
Which makes sense, he was a vidiot for Airspeed...that's why he was at the Nats!
Kinda cool, I did the best I could at the time so this guy could do the best HE could IN time...which is LOTS better than ME!
One of my fellow instructors one day told me that he would have left the sport except that he made a student jump with me. He said that I helped him stay calm, relaxed and focused and that it all started to come together after that.