Rook Nelson on Rookiefest

“The expert in anything was once a beginner.” – unknown 

The walls of Skydive Chicago boast about the newly licensed skydivers, and the names of all graduates since the skydiving center’s inception in 1993 are recognized on a plaque. The halls of Skydive Chicago are full of world-class athletes – local, and from around the world – and you’d most likely never know it as everyone works and plays together! 

When you’re new, it can all be overwhelming on how to fit in. Lucky for us here, there are a plethora of coaches that specialize in bringing up newbies like SDC Rhythm XP, the A-license club, and of course, Rookiefest – the mega rookie event of the year!

What Is Rookiefest?

DZO, Rook Nelson recalls, “Rookiefest was the brainchild of Warren Peterson. Warren was a jumper that graduated from Skydive Chicago’s Advanced Freefall Program during the back-to-back National [2005/6] days. While he thought it was cool to see the pros compete, he felt that the newer jumpers should get an opportunity to compete and learn from the pros.” 

Rookiefest’s first event was held in 2009 and proved to be a phenomenal success. Newbies got to meet other newbies from visiting dropzones, they learned more in a few jumps as they were focused and tutored by experts, and the smiles and stories cemented how important the event was to the newbie community. Nelson continues, “Rookiefest is about meeting newer jumpers, advancing your skills and having fun.”  

First Time Skydiving Mistakes Not to Make

Who Can Participate?

Any person that has graduated a student program and earned their A-license within the last 2 years from any skydiving center may attend Rookiefest. Teams are built based on experience so no one team has an advantage. More experienced skydivers such as national champions, instructors, and world record holders participate as well to help guide the newbies how to exit, engineer moving around in the sky, and provide a platform for learning and advancing in the competition. 

Winners are scored individually rather than an entire team, and participants have an opportunity to win prizes from industry manufacturers and more! 

I’m New, Should I Go?

DZO Rook Nelson encourages rookies to attend and says, “Rookies should attend because they get a chance to jump with some of the best skydivers in the business. We encourage out of town rookies to try and win the traveling trophy and show what DZs is producing the best students!”

This year’s Rookiefest is scheduled for August 31st – September 1st and Nelson said they are aiming for a record attendance of at least 100 rookies!  You can sign up right now yourself and grab a FREE T-Shirt in the process.  Just click right here!

If you’re thinking about going, we highly encourage it as it is a great experience and next step into the sport of skydiving. But don’t just take our word for it, read last year’s winner, Ellen Jones, story HERE!

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