“The Freedom, making money doing something that you already love and travel at the same time. I would have never been able to jump as much or travel as much if it wasn’t for Skydiving and Skydive Chicago.”
Anthony Ebel is a household name around Skydive Chicago, and there’s a reason – he’s been with us since 2006 and has worked his way into becoming our local Safety & Training Advisor. He’s incredibly passionate about skydiving and his new family, and in this week’s Meet the Team, we get to know more about him!
Give us the skinny. How old are you, where are you from and how did you end up at Skydive Chicago?
I am 34 years old. I have a wife Nicole Ebel whom I’ve been with since 2010 and married since 2015. I met her at Skydive Chicago in 2010. Yes, she was a tandem student. No, she wasn’t my student. We decided to leave a real jobs and do what we called the “5 year f*** it plan” – travel and skydive. Its been 8 years, and we recently had our first child Vivienne in October. I was doing static line at a small dropzone down south, a friend took me up to Skydive Chicago [SDC] to drop off his rig. I was blown away by everything. The next day I took out a college loan to finish my license up and haven’t left since.
What were you like as a kid? Were there any indicators early on that might make one think you’d becoming a skydiving instructor?
I grew up in Quincy, IL. In the 90’s we were invaded by skydivers every summer for the World Free Fall Convention. My dad owns a restaurant and used to cater skydivers during events and at the airport. I was cheap labor. I was around 14 or 15 years old at the time and it was quite eye opening. When I was 15 my dad did a tandem and when I asked him what it was like, he responded, “Well son I don’t know what you’ve done, but its as good if not better than sex!” I did my first jump a week after I turned 18 and have doing whatever possible to continue.
Before skydiving, what were your favorite passions and/or hobbies and why?
I really enjoy traveling especially in 3rd world countries without much of a plan. Getting completely out of my comfort zone and sometimes weird situations makes the best stories.
What job(s) did you have before you found skydiving?
I have a degree in psychology and was a teacher at The Baby Fold. It is a specialized school for children with behavioral issues. I was pretty much a bouncer for the classroom and spent most of my time in a 4×4 padded room doing counseling. At times there is a lot of similarities to what I do now and what I did back then.
What are you looking forward to this year?
As far as skydiving is concerned I’m really excited about the team this year. We have a few new members of the team that are turning out to be great additions. Also the record attempts are great to watch and support. The energy is awesome.
Personally: My wife and I had are 1st child back Vivienne back October. Everyday everything is changing.
What is the story of how you got into skydiving (including who/what inspired you to go; where and when you learned, etc):
I started doing static line at a little Cessna dropzone called Illinois Valley Parachute Club and their plane kept breaking down. A friend of mine (also a skydiver) asked me to tag along while he dropped his gear of at Para-concepts located at Skydive Chicago. We drove around the campground and was blown away by how big everything was. That was in 2006. A quick college loan to finish my AFP and i’ve been here ever since.
Tell the story of what happened after your first jump and how you decided to continue:
The year I turned 18 they kicked the WFFC out of Quincy so me and a few of my friends drove out to Rantoul and made a jump.
What discipline do you like and why?
I’m an industry guy. I really enjoy doing tandems and shooting video. There is so many different people you meet who are jumping for different reasons. For many of the people you take Skydiving this maybe the most extreme and scared moment in their life and you get to be a part of it.
What’s something about the sport that surprised you that you didn’t know when you started?
The progression. The amount of new disciplines and equipment that has come out in just 13 years has been quite amazing.
What attracted you to get a job in the skydiving industry?
The Freedom, making money doing something that you already love and travel at the same time. I would have never been able to jump as much or travel as much if it wasn’t for Skydiving and Skydive Chicago.
How long have you been at Skydive Chicago and what is your position?
I’ve been at Skydive Chicago for 13 years doing one thing or another. I have been an adult babysitter, I mean S&TA and in charge of all contractors/instructors for the last 6 years.
Can you explain a breakthrough moment in your skydiving career: explain the challenge you faced and how you overcame it:
I honestly don’t remember when or how it happened. I love seeing it with students though.
What is your favorite part of the sport and why?
The community. I don’t do very well in normal society.
FUN, FAST FACTS
Favorite Cuisine? Pho
Favorite junk food? Red Bull
Favorite food that you enjoy that most people would consider disgusting? Doritos and Cottage Cheese
Favorite place you’ve visited: Vietnam
Place you want to visit that you haven’t been to yet? New Zealand
Pet peeve: Being late. Time is a person’s most valuable asset, don’t take that away from them.
Something about you that few people know about and would be surprised to learn? I played soccer for 13 years and a year in college.
Best book you’ve ever read? Recently Rich Dad Poor Dad otherwise the Celestine Prophecy or Sophie’s World