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1. What attracted you to the sport of skydiving?
LP: Skydiving was initially not something I had intended on doing (see question #2). However, after landing from my first tandem skydive, I knew there no was no turning back. I couldn’t stop thinking about jumping, dreaming about jumping, and wanting to jump as much as possible. Skydiving was the only time in my life when I could be completely in the moment. When you’re in the air, nothing else matters. No matter what might have been going on in my life, skydiving was my escape from it all and a chance to experience true freedom. Additionally, I loved the fact that this was something I could continue to progress in no matter how many years, how many jumps, or how much experience I would ever accumulate in the sport. This challenge excited me and continues to be one of my favorite aspects of the sport. Who doesn’t love a challenge?! I was further drawn to the skydiving community and being part of a family at the DZ. I was fortunate enough to have two great DZO’s who supported me along the way, and continue to do so.
2. What influenced you to actually make the phone call to make your first skydive?
LP: My older brother had bought me a skydiving gift certificate for my high school graduation. I waited until right before I left home for my freshman year of college to cash in on the unknown life-changing gift. Neither my brother nor I had no idea what that gift was capable of doing to and for my future. I am forever grateful for that “push,” though I like to think I would have made that first jump sooner or later.
3. What’s the most memorable skydive you’ve ever been on?
LP: Oh man, there are so many! Skydiving in the Swiss Alps, balloon jumps, night jumps, beach jumps, naked jumps, freezing-cold-Wisconsin-winter jumps. As a tandem instructor, I’ve had several special jumps where I made a particular connection with my student. I absolutely love being able to help provide the experience to other people and connect with them in such a unique way, particularly when it’s their first jump. One fun jump that stands out was a three-way RW jump in late Wisconsin Fall. I had been congested for a while but thought I was clear enough to make the jump. As soon as I exited the aircraft I was blinded by a wall of snot that instantly covered my goggles. Of course, by the time I tried wiping off the goggles the snot had already frozen to the plastic. Through the small, dime-sized window of clarity that I managed to peak through, I saw my two friends pointing and laughing for the remainder of the jump. There have been so many fun, exciting, and memorable moments in the past 12 years; however, this one stands at the moment for some reason.
4. Who / What inspires you?
LP: I am inspired by growth and learning. I never want to become stagnant or bored in anything I do. I consider myself a life-long learner and think there is so much to know in this world that we need to experience as much of it as possible. As a younger skydiver, I was particularly inspired by an older, more experienced skydiver named Bill. He became a mentor to me and was always so encouraging while really pushing me to grow in the sport. He was also the first person I knew to die skydiving, which also proved to be an emotional learning experience from a whole other angle.
5. Of the places you have visited – what is your favorite place and why?
LP: I have been very fortunate to travel to many places around the world. One of my all-time favorites was Botswana and Zimbabwe, Africa. I love experiencing other cultures, scenery, and people. I spent two months camping in the “bush” of Botswana going from village to village each week. We even ended up in some tribes that speak only in clicks. It was complete and utter roughing it with no running water, no toilets (shovel, sand…you get the idea), and a lot of tent camping. It was a life changing experience that I think back to quite often now as an adult (I was 17 at the time). The gorgeous scenery, exotic animals, and completely novel experiences were quite enlightening for a teenager. To me, traveling is an adventure that I will never tire of.
6. What other interests do you have outside of skydiving?
LP: I am an avid and competitive volleyball player and am generally playing between 2-3 nights a week. I also enjoy winemaking and have been creating and bottling various wines over the past year (recent hobby development). I love spending time with family and friends and try to stay as active as possible. I also enjoy working out, camping, hiking, anything outdoors, and traveling.
7. What is something about you that few people know about?
LP: Hmmmm, I’m a fairly open book with those around me. I’ve had a lot of different jobs in the past since I’ve been working since age 13: bus boy, bag boy, cashier, optician, server, youth counselor, instructional aide, long-term substitute teacher. There was never any shortage of work! One thing that seems to surprise people when they hear it is the fact that I had dreadlocks down past my shoulders at age 20. Gotta love those college/pre-clean-cut days.
8. If you could meet anyone in the world for a coffee and a chat (alive or deceased) who would you wish to meet with?
LP: I’d love to have one last coffee and chat with my mother who passed away a year and a half ago after a short battle with cancer at age 59. She was absolutely my everything. She was such a wonderful woman who raised 4 children on her own. I am certainly a product of my mother and I attribute any and all of my (positive) characteristics or personality traits to her. She was always 100% supportive of my life choices, my skydiving, and me. Not a day goes by where I wouldn’t love to hear her voice one more time or spend even just a minute in her presence.
9. What do you do for work? If you could do anything as an occupation – what would it be?
LP:I am fortunate that I am already working in my dream job/career. I have been practicing as a school psychologist for 5 years now. It is an incredibly rewarding, challenging, and inspiring career…one that I worked very hard to get to. Also, it doesn’t hurt having summer break, which also allows me to increase my skydiving “work”/play for the summer season. I practiced in the inner city of Milwaukee for the first five years and will now be transitioning to Oak Creek this August where I will intend on having a nice, long career. It has been very fulfilling helping students and their families while consulting and collaborating with amazing professionals. People and their behavior have always intrigued me.
10. What are your future goals?
LP: I would like to continue growing through my school psychology practice as well as within my skydiving career. As a school psychologist, I hope to gain more experience and professional development in the areas of attachment and LGBT issues. As far as skydiving goes, I would like to get involved in big-way camps in the near future and start expanding my RW world while still instructing and connecting with people through tandems and AFF.