Up Close & Personal
name: Shannon Pilcher
education: Georgia Tech
number of jumps: 3,500
years in Sport: 25
teams: Laminar Flow, Team Nova, Sebastian Air FX (video), DeLand Genesis, DeLand PD Blue
slot(s): Outside Center
favorite competition: Winning the bronze medal at the 1998 U.S. Nationals.
funniest moment in skydiving: Break-off on nearly every training jump we make is hilarious thanks to the zany antics of our fearless teammate and photographer Eric Taylor. As our skydive comes to an end, his is just beginning. He's a riot, to say the least.
skydiving mentor(s): My teammates. Together they possess all the qualities I would like to have. Solly Williams has also become a huge mentor and friend over the last three years.
hobbies: Reading, music, computers, most sports, especially basketball
favorite book(s): I have two: Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, and Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.
favorite music: Christian Rock and Contemporary.
favorite movie(s): I can't really think of one. But I like Disney Cartoons and "Movies for Guys Who Like Movies." Oh, and I also enjoy movies with heros, especially one's that are "based on a true story."
favorite place: 10,500 feet during a competition. Silly, I know, but I can't think of anywhere better, except maybe at home with my family.
Where will you be ten years from now? I would like to stay connected with skydiving. I enjoy coaching/teaching and would like to do more of it. But I would also like to go back to school and continue educating myself.
best kept secret: I'm a compulsive eater and nose-picker! Okay, it's not a secret, but it's pretty funny!
Pilcher's individual skydiving story is so closely connected to the story of DeLand Genesis/PD Blue that it is difficult to separate both stories. And the whole story is almost like a skydiving fairy-tale. As a skydiver, Pilcher grew up at the Freefall Ranch in Warm Springs, GA. There he started jumping in 1991. This is also where the Genesis/PD Blue story begins.... Warm Springs is also teammate Kyle Collins' hometown, as well as the place where Collins and another teammate, Ian Bobo, started jumping. They were introduced to skydiving by the Georgia Tech Sport Parachute Club in 1990. Since Pilcher and Collins were in the same fraternity at the university, it did not take too long until Collins took Pilcher out to the drop zone. The fourth current team member, David vanGreuningen, knew the other three as friends at the same university.
In 1992, Collins, Bobo and Pilcher competed for the first time at the Collegiate Championships as "Laminar Flow" to win the competition. The same team won again in 1993. Pilcher graduated in 1994 with a BSBC in building construction; however, it turned into a bad year for him - his team planned to go to the Collegiates again when Pilcher broke his back. This is where David vanGreuningen comes into the skydiving picture, filling the open slot and winning the Collegiates together with Collins and Bobo. 1994 was also supposed to be the first time for all of them to go to the U.S. Nationals as "Team Nova", although Bobo was assigned only as the team videographer for financial reasons. Pilcher missed these nationals, of course. After graduating, he was working for a contractor in Atlanta while continuing his skydiving career. 1995 was actually the year when team Genesis was officially founded - all four friends joined to start training for the U.S. Nationals 1995, which were held at Skydive DeLand that year. Genesis made 250 training jumps. Things were looking great for a successful move towards the gold medal. There was great competition with "Basic4" as a very well trained team, also. But bad luck stroke Pilcher again before it got very serious - he broke his leg in round one of the meet. The second approach at the U.S. Nationals had failed again. The meet in DeLand still left great impressions on all team members. It laid the foundation for the future of Genesis.
After the 1995 nationals, Collins moved to DeLand as the first Genesis member. Competition greats Dawn English and Joey Jones had invited him to compete with FX. He found a job at the Relative Workshop and started training. Pilcher followed him in February 1996 to become FX's team videographer. At the U.S. Nationals 1996, they won their first medals with the surprising third place of FX at The Ranch. While most experts were sure that Collins and Pilcher would continue with FX to charge for the gold, the two friends had other things in mind: they had much stronger bonds with their two other friends vanGreuningen and Bobo who were still in Georgia. In 1997, Collins and Pilcher quit FX while vanGreuningen and Bobo left Georgia to head for DeLand. Genesis was reunited, stronger and more motivated than ever before. The rest was supposed to fall in place with such a strong desire. Genesis rented a house in DeLand and started training on a weekend basis since full time jobs were limiting them. Pilcher found a job as a reporter and writer for the Skydiving Magazine. 250 training jumps in 1997; 400 training jumps in 1998 to win the gold medal at the National Skydiving League Championship 1998, the gold medal at the Americas Cup 1998 and the bronze medal at the U.S. Nationals 1998; 500 training jumps in 1999 to win the Florida Skydiving League Championship 1999 and the National Skydiving League Championship 1999.
At the end of 1999, Skydive DeLand owner Bob Hallett and Performance Designs marketing manager Ian Bellis sat down to develop a plan for rewarding this strong team desire, as well as to use it for their own purposes. The result was a new name for Genesis: DeLand PD Blue, coming along with professional training conditions for the team. Now, there is only one goal left: winning the U.S. Nationals 2000 and the World Championship 2001. Any doubts looking back? Pilcher has still his own goals. He would like to win with a lot of fun, or lose without any frustration. He wants to stay with this team forever and enjoy every day with what he is doing.