Rhythm Women’s Leadership foundation first annual women’s skydiving leadership conference was held May 6th – 15th at Paraclete Xp in Raeford North Carolina. 20 women were chosen to represent female skydivers across the United States. I was fortunate enough to be one of the chosen to attend the conference. Again, I had grand intentions of blogging the events in real time. However, after 14+ hour days in conference, skydiving or playing in the windy tube left me physically exhausted and mentally fizzled out. Mentors such as Jen Sharp, Maxine Tate, Betsy Hoates and Karen Lewis Dalton gave seminars about different aspects of the industry while Christy Fricken, JaNette Lefkowitz, and Brianne Thompson focused on mentorship in the sky. Maxine Tate was there to help us focus on canopy control.

Jen Sharp tells Nicole Senecal how to make a peanutbutter and jelly sandwich


This by far was one of my favorite and most comical seminars that focused on communication. Jen sat at the front of the classroom while Nicole (one of the participants) told her how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The kicker was that Nicole’s back was to Jen so that she couldn’t physically see how Jen was taking her instructions. This showed us we may need to have multiple forms of communication. It also proved there really is a lot of detail that goes into making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Nicole took it all in stride and got quite the laugh by the time that they were done. Things to take from this:

  • There are mulitple ways to communicate
  • We as instructors need to utilized different communication skills
  • People learn in different ways; some are visual learners, some by listening while others learn by performing tasks
  • By utilizing different communication techniques we can better educate our students


This seminar focused on how your body language communicates and how we making sweeping judgements based on this body language. Verbal and non-verbal cues can demonstrate the power that we feel inside. Not only can this exhibit how we are feeling but there are actual physical changes in cortisol and testosterone levels that have been documented in studies.  Powerful people will be assertive, confident and can think abstractly. They also physically have higher testosterone levels and lower cortisol levels.  People who do not feel power exhibit non-verbal cues such as making themselves small.  There has also been documentation that there testosterone levels are lower and cortisol levels are higher.  By physically practicing power poses, you can change the mind as well as how people perceive you. So Remember:

  • Body language includes verbal as well as non-verbal cues
  • Those cues allow people to make sweeping judgements
  • There are biological changes that occur – you can physically change these by practicing power poses routinely
  • Changing the physical can further change the way you are received



While one group of ladies ventured off to the wind tunnel, another group of us were able to take the Flight-1 course with Maxine Tate. This not only focused on the different characteristics and dynamics of flying the modern wing, but also talked about landing patterns, use of rear/front risers and how to use the winds and make our glide effective to get back from a long spot. No canopy control discussion would be complete without discussing turbulence – the types of turbulence as well as dealing with turbulence.  Maxine’s knowledge of canopy flight is amazing and I highly recommend the Flight-1 courses.

conference participant works on canopy control work after classroom work



As the conference came to an end I was so thankful…thankful to establish some new relationships with some amazing ladies across the United States, thankful to continue to expand my skydiving knowledge and try and figure out what skydiving holds for me in the future. Several of us will be part of a mentorship program called the Women’s Skydiving Leadership Network, where the focus will be to mentor newly A and B licensed female skydivers. Our website should be up and running shortly. Keep an eye out for us all!  It should be noted as well that several of the ladies who were part of this conference are already doing amazing things. Not only are some a part of this network, but they have joined a team, gotten a rating or several ratings and are overall influencing and mentoring the female jumpers in our sport.  Keep an eye out….we will be kicking ass and taking names.  Until then……Blue skies!




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