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Up Close & Personal
name: Dawn English
education: Less than high school.
family & marital staus: Unmarried.
number of jumps: 3,300
years in Sport: 29
teams: DeLand Debris, Team FX 95, 96, 97, 98, 00
slot(s): Outside center and point.
favorite competition: I hate to admit this, but I put up with training to get to the c
funniest moment in skydiving: We laughed a lot on FX - on the ground and in the air. I can remember getting side cramps during a dive from laughing so hard that I wasn't able to continue. My ribs seemed to lock up and I just kind'a rolled onto my side and fell out of the formation. Of course, that provided further entertainment for the rest of the team. We must've sounded like a bunch of hyenas. It's a wonder any of us were capable of pulling.
skydiving mentor(s): Wow. I have lots of heroes in this sport - some mentioned earlier. I've had great mentors too - I've been really blessed. On the ground my mentor has been my business partner of nearly fifteen years; Dan Thompson. I wouldn't be where I am today without hi
hobbies: Work. I'm a workaholic.
favorite book(s): It's impossible to choose just one, but the first that comes to mind is As A Man Thinketh by James Allen.
favorite music: Everything - I like variety. Depends on what mood I want to be in.
favorite movie(s): Comedies are usually my favorite.
favorite place: In a meet of course. At altitude the door opens, the wind roars in, transmitter on, cameraman out, climb into slot, pick up grips, and pause. You can feel your teammates breathing... the prop seems to be in slow motion... the view of the horizon is awesom
Where will you be ten years from now? I really have no idea. It's a big world out there and I'd like to see and experience as much of it as possible. Hmmm, I'll probably need to get out of the office to make that happen.
best kept secret: The way to keep a secret is to not publish it online...
"One of my favorites for life is "Excellence is not an act, but a habit. - Aristotle. Also, "You only live once, but if you work it right, once is enough.""
- Joe E. Lewis
She began her skydiving career with the first jump in California City, CA, in the beginning of 1988. Her scuba diving buddy bought her a jump for her 18th birthday. She was hooked immediately and moved onto the drop zone after her third jump. She did not give the dz operators any notice. "I just showed up with my stuff", Dawn English remembers.
When Dawn had a hundred jumps, she visited Zephyrhills in Florida for the Christmas Boogie in December 1988 and never went back to the west coast. She lived on the drop zone in a tent for a year and got to jump with skydiving greats like Jerry Bird, Mike Michigan, Peter Gannaw, Pete Allum. "I was in heaven, and I've been living in Florida ever since."
Her serious interest in 4-way competition came when she was offered the position of the general manager at Skydive DeLand in 1990. She saw it as a great opportunity and moved to DeLand: "Bob Hallett treated me well, and Tom Piras took me under his wing a bit."
Ironically, Dawn's very first team was Jerry Bird's 40-way: "I spent all season hoping and trying to get on it. Looking back, that was really a golden time."
The next step on her competition career was 10-way. Dawn English attended her first USPA Nationals with team Excalibur, which was captained by Carl Daugherty. She was now 19 years old and had just under 200 jumps. The 10-way competition was from DC3's: "They stuck me last because I was so small, I guess."
It took Dawn a while to actually get on a 4-way team. She remembers the obstacles: "At that time women weren't seriously considered for 4-way. Also, I'm small and that was a further hindrance; most of the 4-way people in DeLand were pretty big guys."
"I was so much smaller than them that I wore 26 pounds in competition. I didn't have to stop a move - I'd just go until I ran into one of them. I remember one dive we were spinning donut-360-donut and two of us collided. I left the screen so fast you had to play it in slow motion to see where I went. That year was a huge learning experience for me. We took 5th at the Nationals."
Her competition career leading to the top of the world with team FX began 1995 in Arizona. Dawn went there looking for new teammates without success. As she was leaving to head back to Florida, with her car running in Eloy's parking lot, someone ran up to her and asked if she wanted to do a fun 4-way. She unpacked all her stuff and made the jump.
Dawn and Joey Jones then accepted a player coach position for Dr. Joel Shugar's first team and competed with Eyes on Florida at the USPA Nationals in 1997. The next year would bring the highlight of her 4-way career for Dawn. Together with Joey Jones she formed Space Center FX, which was fully sponsored by the Skydive Space Center in Titusville, Florida. Space Center FX with Christopher Irvin and Doug Park in the line-up trained hard, traveled to Portugal for the World Cup 1998 and won the gold medals after a jump-off with France Maubeuge.
Dawn remembers the entire FX experience as a tremendous one: "Skydiving tends to attract strong personalities. Put four of them together on a team and it gets interesting. I still have a strong personality, but years of being on teams has been very, very good for me. I'll be able to use those lessons for the rest of my life."
Dawn English feels that all the efforts were very much worthwhile, and she knows what it takes to get to the very top: "Persistence. You're never out of the game until you quit." Asked whether she would do it all over again she did not hesitate with her answer: "Definitely. I'm a better person because of my skydiving experiences."
Check additional related NSL News stories on 22 September 2005, 30 September 2005, 4 October 2005. Go to the NSL Archives of 2005 if the links to the stories are outdated.