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Did You Know...

... that Sidney Owen Williams keeps enjoying the Elsinore Horizon ride?

Blue Skies Mag
posted Jul 13th, 2014 - The Sun Path Products NSL News re-published an article earlier this year that was written by Sidney Owen Williams for Blue Skies Mag. Sydney Owen Williams is in charge of events and marketing at Skydive Elsinore and has the Tail slot for Elsinore Horizon. Her team competed in the A Class last year and in the AA/Intermediate Class at the USPA Nationals.

Her passionate 4-way story of March this year explained how she came to 4-way competition and eventually founded Elsinore Horizon together with Kristian Szczpetiko.

Elsinore Horizon came back this year and attended the first competition of the Southern California Skydiving League. Sidney Owen Williams now shared her next and new experiences with the public, which relate to the challenges that 4-way training and competition bring to body and mind when teams and competitors tackle new areas of dive pool and techniques.

NSL business marketing meeting at the DeLand office... :-)

Enjoy the NOOb Ride

By Sidney Owen Williams

I remember back before I quit my "real job" to work in the skydiving industry. All of my mentors were Executive Vice Presidents, Presidents or Chief Marketing Officers of the PR/marketing agencies I was working at. I was surrounded by the best and the brightest in the Chicago (and eventually Austin) marketing world. I was invited to brainstorms, sent on business trips, speaking at conferences, and put on some incredible account teams. The vision of what I wanted to be in the marketing world was right there, in the office across the hall from me. I was excited about the path I was on, and excited to get to where they were someday. Of course, with 3-letter titles like EVP, CMO or CEO come a shitload of experience.

Some of the marketing professionals I worked with had been in the agency world for longer than I had been alive. Sure, they had all started as interns or entry-level people at one point or another, but now they were making big decisions, leading creative change and were the brains behind epic marketing campaigns.

SCSL - April 26th, 2014Round 1Round 2TotalAvg
RankAAA Class3,J,B,7E,19,G,1TotalAvg
1FunkyTown Monkey Pimps (US)SCSL127199.5
RankAA ClassJ,B,7E,19,GTotalAvg
1Elsinore Horizon (US)SCSL15102512.5
2Its A Secret (US)SCSL108189.0
RankA ClassJ,B,7E,19TotalAvg
1Team Steve One (US)SCSL5-55.0
2Critical Mass (US)SCSL0000.0
Sidney Owen Williams (right) with Horizon team mates
I remember when I was a nOOb and I met my first friend on the drop zone. She had 200-something jumps and I thought she was the coolest thing since sliced bread (because sliced bread is REALLY cool, guys). Here was this gal who was totally friendly, a really good flyer (In my limited knowledge of what makes someone a badass, she was certainly better than I was.), and she was like the cool girl at school who invited me to sit with her at lunch. She was the life of the party, got invited on all the cool jumps, and (wait for it) had super sweet matchy matchy gear. I looked up to her immediately.

I remember getting my A-License shortly before my buddy Timmy, and by the following summer, he was invited on all the badass jumps and invitational big-way belly events. As you already know, I was the queen of going low, and there just wasn't room for someone with my "skillset" (or lack thereof) on those kinds of jumps. And before summer was over, he was hundreds of jumps ahead of me and on his way to super-stardom.

Fast forward four years. As I sit here in my office in California, I realize that where I was in the marketing world isn't much different from where I am in the skydiving industry. In Southern California I'm surrounded by incredibly talented skydivers who also have impressive "resumes" of sorts: years in the sport, thousands of jumps, hundreds—if not thousands—of hours of tunnel time.

Elsinore Horizon in good 4-way action
When you're working with, being coached by and hanging out with people who have been to a world meet and WON (or are making hot-shit videos on YouTube, or have sponsors all over the place or are traveling the world organizing at badass events), it's much like sitting in the brainstorm next to the lady who has been on the "got milk?" campaign since its inception.

Moral of the story: It's really easy to get caught up in where you are versus where you want to be, and we have to tell ourselves to keep it in perspective. We weren't born with thousands of jumps worth of skills and we all have different variables that keep us on our own path, at our own pace.

A recent example: While training with my team, Elsinore Horizon, we were doing the advanced blocks for the first time ever. Three of us had never done the blocks in the sky or in the tunnel. They were actually pretty awesome, looking back at the videos. But I remember getting down from the jump and debriefing and being a bit hard on myself. I could have set up the random build better, my move on the inter left A LOT to be desired, and the close wasn't as tight as it could have been.

Mentor and player coach John Hamilton (left)
UM HELLO SYDNEY!?! At least the block is closing! At least we didn't funnel the exit. Of course we aren't going to be rocking block 12 with Airspeed-like precision, accuracy and speed on our first try. One of us is a first-time 4-way competitor, two of us are on our second year competing, and the only person on this skydive who has actually done this block is our player/coach. I realize this now, but in the heat of the moment after the skydive, I was pretty disappointed with my performance. Why? Because I've seen videos of it being done flawlessly, and duh, I want that for myself and for our team. Right now.

Sometimes I get so ahead of myself in my head, and it drives me nuts to no end. I feel like I have so much information in my brain and my body is so far behind on the application of this knowledge. For example:

My coach/boss/teammate, John Hamilton, has been coaxing me out of bad freefall habits, and into the habits that will make me a better 4-way flyer. for the better part of three years. I've listened to him coach me and others for HOURS in the tunnel, for HOURS on the ground, and I have a lot of practical knowledge on how to fly efficiently. Once I finally figured out a proper neutral body position, it was like, "OH HELLO BODY, NICE OF YOU TO CATCH UP WITH WHAT THE BRAIN KNOWS TO BE CORRECT." I'm sure anyone who's received any kind of coaching can relate.

Elsinore Horizon in not-so-good 4-way action
My husband is a badass AFF instructor. And I'm not just saying that because I married the guy. He really is an awesome teacher, and he's been doing it for more than 14 years. I have heard so many stories about scary AFF jumps, fatalities he's witnessed or friends he's lost, and all of the other "no shit there I was" stories that come with TIME in the sport. I know that my conservative nature as a skydiver is ingrained in me largely in part due to the stories he's told me. I feel like I've been able to get through a lot of the "you don't know what you don't know" portion of being a new skydiver because he's clued me into a lot of those nuances since I've started.

No doubt I'm enjoying everything I do, but on those days I get caught up in a debrief, harping on myself for not rocking the tail slot like I was born a tail flyer (hint: I wasn't), it can be difficult. Sometimes I just need to remind myself to slow the fuck down and enjoy the ride.

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