Breaking Sterotypes: Kim Schuette

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Stereotyping—try as we might, it is something we all do. These over-generalizations shape the way different groups of people are viewed and what is expected from them. These misrepresentations apply to skydivers too. When you are asked to picture a skydiver, what comes to mind? We bet it is the typical Point Break-esque vagabonds, daredevils, or rowdy men with something to prove.

But as a group, we are much more diverse and defy expectations. To prove it, we would like to introduce Kim Schuette: wife, mother, a woman of faith…and a skydiver!

Kim Schuette is a mother of two. You can find her at the drop zone on Saturday, a soccer, baseball, or softball game after (depending on the season), and sometimes teaching a sermon on Sunday! Feeling a bit giddy like she’s keeping a secret, she says: I often look around and smile thinking I am the only one here who has just recently jumped out of a plane. I can’t believe what a wonderful life I have.”

Kim isn’t what most people would imagine a “skydiver” to be, but she is a staple here at Wisconsin Skydiving Center.

Kim currently has 659 jumps and strangely enough, she began skydiving after watching a movie with her husband that had surfing in it! She told him that she would like to learn to surf but with the stipulation that it would have to be in Hawaii if she was going to do it and that she would want to skydive too! Well, she was heard loud and clear and received a certificate for a tandem skydive for Mother’s Day that year.

Notice we said “Mother’s Day”: when Kim made her first tandem jump her son was 9 and her daughter was 4.

For many, skydiving is a one and done sort of affair, but not for Kim.

“I did the tandem jump and just couldn’t stop thinking about skydiving. I convinced a girlfriend to take the class with me, so we could jump on our own.”

After each jump, “I just kept saying one more…[but] finally, I figured out that this was a thing. I was going to be a skydiver.”

Kim and her family.

Not the typical “jumper”, Kim is both a mother and a skydiving instructor. When we asked what it was like being such seemingly contradictory things she replied:

“I hope that it is a good example that you can do and be anything. Even if it doesn’t fit what is expected.  My son used to tell me that I was a “weird” mom.  His teachers would tell me that he would brag about his mom being a skydiving instructor.  One time we went to school conferences for our daughter. The teacher was going over how things were going at school. She said that [our daughter] was a good writer and had lots of imagination, but she would tell things that weren’t always true.  Being concerned, I asked for an example…because if something was going on we wanted to help correct it. The teacher then said, “well she says that you are a skydiver.”  I said but I am.  She got a really strange look on her face and moved on!”

Kim gets that being a skydiver, instructor, and a mother don’t seem like they would go together:

“When I talk about being a skydiver and an instructor, most people’s eyes get really big.  But when I explain why I do it most people understand.  I love to teach skydiving as I see it as a calling to help people…It may be to realize a drive or bucket list item, but I hope that it reaches deeper to help them gain confidence to become who they are intended to be.  That [through skydiving] they will learn how handle, understand, and cope with fear so that it doesn’t hold them back. [ I hope] that they learn how challenge themselves and grow.”

We were lucky to get Kim to join us at Wisconsin Skydiving Center, and it was only with a little bit of luck, good timing, and a positive reference that we managed to get her back in the air and to join our community. You see, Kim needed to have her reserve parachute packed, and Wisconsin Skydiving Center is where she was encouraged to go.

Kim and her skydive family

“A friend of mine had had Bo pack his reserve a couple of times… “Go have your reserve packed look around I think you would really like it there” is what he kept saying to me.  I also knew Charlie worked at WSC, and he loved it there. [Charlie] had been my tandem instructor on my first jump. I had taken a couple years off from skydiving and was thinking of getting back in as I missed it.  I drove out there and walked in. I talked to Alex, and later with Bo when I dropped off my rig. I walked and looked around and felt the energy of the drop zone. I watched as they geared up and taught some tandem students. In our conversations, I told Bo that I had been a coach and IAD instructor but had let my rating lapse. When I picked up my rig, Bo invited me to watch an AFF class that was going on. [Watching that class] rekindled that love of teaching skydiving. But, I was not sure how to go about re-certification, and then where would I teach? My friend who had told me to go there sent me a text a couple weeks later that Bo was teaching a Coaches course and wondered if I was interested in getting re-certified. I texted Bo and took time off of work as it just felt right.  Bo and Alex and the gang as WSC were/are so welcoming it was and is incredible. I had found my new skydiving home.  I not only renewed my coach rating but worked hard and got my AFFI rating.”

Another major influence in Kim’s life is her faith. For Kim, “life is always a work in progress. [It’s] faith, helping others and skydiving.”

To Kim, skydiving is a way to work through fear to accomplish something in your life and a way to work on awareness to grow as a person and to get closer to who you are made to be.  In skydiving, she expresses her faith “by helping people learn to face their fears. [I want them to] know that they can do things that they put their minds to.  I wish for everyone I interact with to become the person they are intended to be.  We all face struggles in our lives.  People are put in our lives to help us through those struggles.  We really need to look or learn to be aware of those opportunities of helping someone or being helped by someone. The thing is they may not even know they are helping you [and] you may not even know that you are helping them.”

Skydiving is a great metaphor for life, and Kim’s story is a great reminder not only to defy expectation, but to be careful of creating, producing, and reinforcing imaginary confines. We encourage you to push past the imaginary boundaries you may have built and the comfort zones you have created with a tandem skydive at Wisconsin Skydiving Center.

A lady smiles while in free fall during a tandem skydive.

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