Become a Sister in Skydiving!

Tag: Feature, July 2011, SIS

Ladies, do you remember what it was like when you started skydiving? Was it an exciting yet intimidating experience? Did you feel like the minority in a male-dominated sport, sometimes wishing for someone to talk to who could relate to what you were going through and help you through some of the issues that only new women skydivers face?

Well, you made it through to become an experienced skydiver, and now you have a chance to give back to the sport and help some of the student and novice women who are likely experiencing a lot of the same difficulties as you did.

USPA is excited to introduce its new Sisters in Skydiving (SIS) mentorship program.

SISLogo

We’re inviting experienced female skydivers to sign up to act as mentors to new women jumpers. The goal is to offer support and help increase female retention in the sport. About half of first-jump students are female, yet women make up only about 15 percent of USPA members. Why are so few women who make a first jump successfully pursuing the sport and becoming licensed skydivers? There’s no easy answer, but we hope that by giving new women jumpers experienced female role models to help guide and support them, we’ll be able to increase retention of female students, adding depth and diversity to our sport.

How It Worksfeature20117-11
Joining Sisters in Skydiving and becoming a Big Sister is simple. You don’t need to have thousands of jumps or world records under your belt to participate. All you need is a minimum of 100 jumps and the desire to help new female jumpers. If you’re interested in participating, simply click on here, and complete the SIS registration form.

Once you register as a Big Sister with USPA, you’ll get access to a special online resource center on the USPA website. The resource center contains information that will help you offer guidance to your Little Sister, including:

  • advice from leading women in the sport on some of the biggest issues new female jumpers face
  • Parachutist articles on a range of topics relevant to new women jumpers
  • other resources with information on increasing female retention
  • a database of Big Sisters that will allow you to communicate with other mentors and exchange ideas

Make sure to let your DZO or school manager know that you’ve signed up. The DZO or student coordinator can help pair you up with women going through the student program or those who have just earned their A licenses. And it’s important that they know who’s offering guidance to their students. Be proactive. Your DZO likely has his hands full, so make sure to take the lead in finding yourself a Little Sister.feature20117-12

You can limit yourself to just one Little Sister at a time, or you can take on several. It’s not a huge time commitment. It’s just a way to reach out and let new female jumpers know they have a place in this sport.

Your Job as a Big Sister
As a Big Sister, you’re not acting as a coach or instructor for female students. Rather, you’re a friend, role model and mentor. You’ll give your Little Sister someone to talk to about issues she may be facing as she progresses in skydiving. You’ll help keep her from potentially feeling alone, alienated or intimidated as a minority in the sport. Here are just a few ideas of things you can offer as a Big Sister:feature20117-13

  • Invite your Little Sister to social outings with your skydiver friends.
  • Introduce your Little Sister to organizers or others at the drop zone to jump with.
  • Help with equipment selection and share your experiences with finding the right size gear.
  • Be a sounding board for your Little Sister to air her concerns, fears or difficulties in the sport, and offer moral support and encouragement.
  • Let your Little Sister know that you may have gone through some of the same struggles she’s experiencing, whether it’s difficulty figuring out landings, trying to balance family life or facing fear.

As a new program, Sisters in Skydiving has plenty of room for growth and new ideas. Once you begin acting as a Big Sister, USPA will encourage you to let us know about your experiences both good and bad, offer suggestions on ways to improve the program and share your success stories.feature20117-14

As such a small percentage of jumpers, female skydivers need to stick together and support each other. As an experienced female skydiver, you have an opportunity—some might even say a responsibility—to reach out to new women jumpers, welcome them into our community and help empower them to reach their skydiving goals.

Increasing the percentage of female skydivers is not something that will happen overnight, but if each of us does our part to support and encourage female students and novices, we can help our sport continue to grow.

Comments

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Wed, 06/22/2011 - 15:23

Hey all, just an FYI that my quote was tweaked just slightly to make it more universal, but I feel like it's important to tell you what I specifically said..... the last bit of my quote that says "learning to skydive," was actually "drop zone dating." A more specific subject matter certainly, but also one that almost all of us come up against at one time or another, and therefore worthy of our attention. :)

Go ahead and re-read it with that in mind, and know I'm definitely open to hearing what you all think.
Sweetness.
Mel :)

Amy M. Moon
Fri, 07/01/2011 - 18:14

Hi Mel! Considering I am dating my AFF instructor, I can definitely relate with the topic of drop zone dating!! :) And you are right that it is a subject worthy of discussion. Since women make up such a small percentage of skydivers, we are often looked at as "fresh meat," especially when first introduced to the sport. And it is another element of the skydiving world that people can get caught up in very quickly and easily.

Drop zone dating, especially a new female jumper with an established male jumper, carries the pro of sharing a life-altering passion with the con of wanting to establish oneself as her own person with her own capabilities. For me, taking that first skydive introduced me to two new passions that will fill the rest of my life with immense joy and fulfillment - but it hasn't been an entirely easy road!

Thank you for making it a point to introduce this as a topic of needed discussion, and I look forward to throwing my two cents in whenever I can help!

Cara Valinoti
Thu, 09/29/2011 - 10:08

I couldn't agree more with Mel. Thank you for sharing the actual quote because it is a subject that deserves attention. This issue is a HUGE driving factor for me to become a mentor.

Adela Agard
Thu, 06/23/2011 - 18:43

Hey ladies!
I just registered...so excited about this program! I think it is a great idea. Can't wait to get started.

Casey Harris
Fri, 07/01/2011 - 10:10

Hi everyone! I just registered. Looking forward to helping out women that are new to skydiving!

Amy M. Moon
Fri, 07/01/2011 - 18:21

Hello everyone! I just registered to be a Big Sis as well. I am a fairly new jumper but very current: 180 jumps in 11 months. I am always excited about meeting new women jumpers because I finally have enough experience to offer them advice and guidance while still having very fresh memories of beginning in the sport. Looking forward to learning from all of you as well as mentoring our new ladies. Woohoo!

P.S. - I jump out of Perris Valley Skydiving, so if you know of any new girls jumping from here that would like to meet up, please pass my name on to them!

Maureen O'Brien
Tue, 07/05/2011 - 14:49

Hi all....also just registered. Very excited about a formal program!!

Kay Faesel
Sat, 07/09/2011 - 22:19

Hi everyone, I just registered as well. I am so looking forward to working with other ladies to assist keeping women grow in this sport. I am newer to the sport as well and will continue to have some big "sis's" help me continually develop and hopefully I can pay it forward by helping other newer jumpers. What my current strengths are is that student status and newly licensed jumper experiences and feelings at smaller and larger dropzones are still quite fresh in my mind.

Sue Brenan
Fri, 07/22/2011 - 08:47

I haven't found a place to sign up to be mentored. How does this aspect of SIS work?

Webmaster
Fri, 07/22/2011 - 11:09

For new women jumpers looking for a mentor, check with your DZO or school manager to see whether there are any Big Sisters at your drop zone. If there's not, send an e-mail to nkoreen@uspa.org, and we'll try to connect you with someone in your area.

Erica Gallant
Thu, 07/28/2011 - 16:40

Hi Ladies, I just registered and I have to say that I am super excited about this program. I totally remember when I had that feeling of "now what do I do?" I am eager to help and offer sincere support to the lady skydivers out there! I also look forward to learning from all of you :)

@Mel Curtis: Funny that you actually meant "drop zone dating" rather than "learning to skydive" because before I even read your comment from 6/22, that is exactly where my mind went. I think that is a very important topic! Along with the very good relationships that can come out of the sport or any sport, we unfortunately have to witness the heartbreak which has led to never seeing that lady skydiver again!

Anyhow, this is a great thing, YAY :)
Erica

Erika Schneid
Thu, 07/28/2011 - 17:49

Hey there,
I just wanted to say that I think this is a wonderful concept! I just started skydiving myself (completed AFF training) and am now getting into solo and coach jumps working towards my A license. I am super excited about getting to know more, and being able to try new things. One of the biggest problems I have been having at the drop zones I have been going to is the size of the gear. I am 5' even and 115 lbs, and it makes it difficult for me to find a rental rig that fits me. I have been using a Nav 200 and 220 for my training. I am definitely going to get plenty more jumps in before attempting to buy my own rig, however if there is anyone out there who has suggestions for what there is out there for me to look for, or even what the best bet is for the mean time...it would be much appreciated! Looking forward to finding a BIG SIS in my area...let me know if anyone jumps in NC!!

Erika

Danielle
Tue, 08/30/2011 - 12:06

I'm brand new to skydiving. I just started this month and I'm working towards my A license. How do I become a "little sister?" I would love to find a female mentor and this sounds like a great organization. Being a newcomer in a male-dominated sport is a little intimidating; especially when it comes to small stuff like finding someone light enough (6'1'', 145lbs) to do a coach jump :) Any big sisters in southern AL or NC?

Webmaster
Tue, 08/30/2011 - 12:39

Hi Danielle, All you got to do is check with your DZO or school manager to see whether there are any Big Sisters at your drop zone. If there's not, send an e-mail to nkoreen@uspa.org, and we'll try to connect you with someone in your area. There's also a Facebook page where you can get in touch with Big Sisters. You can find it under the our regular page's likes.

Haley
Thu, 09/08/2011 - 16:44

This is program sounds really awesome! I've had many discussions with my boyfriend about finding skydive mentors to work with. As a newbie, I hope to find a SIS in my area. And I look forward to joining the program in the years to come!

Mon, 11/07/2011 - 14:44

Just signed up and can't wait!! When I started at my dz 5ish years ago, I remember sitting by the bonfire as the only girl surrounded by (no joke) 23 guys. It was completely overwhelming and OBNOXIOUS that all they wanted to ask me about was if I had a boyfriend when all I wanted to talk about was my first week of AFF!! I'm super stoked that there is something now in the pipeline to formally help suppoort other ladies in the same boat. At my new DZ I'm lucky to have a large population of women, but it still doesn't stop the constant "learning by injection" comments that get made about new AFF students. After competing for 2 years with a women's freefly team and walking the road to dz dating, I would LOVE to be here to act as a sounding board for any woman who wants to focus on the sport and avoid the meat-market traps!!

Much love to the ladies who saved me - now its time to give back!!

:)
Whit

Jen Marcum
Sun, 12/25/2011 - 23:37

Hey ladies not trying to be a complete noob here or anything but I am from San Antonio and I go to school near Dallas. I have made two jumps since the summer and I am hooked! Unfortunately all the prices and classes is just way over my head and the all the information just seems different. I am not trying to be cheap or anything but I don't want to just few away a couple hundred dollars because I wasn't educated on the lingo. So if anyone knows where a good place to go is or what you have to do please hook a sister up haha.

Sincerely,

Jen
Girl just trying to jump solo :)
sooo idk shoot me an email... jenny.marcum@yahoo.com

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