He can hop in a plane to fly a load of jumpers, he’s a multi-national and world champion skydiver, he’s a husband, a dad, and the owner of Skydive Chicago. We had a rare opportunity to sit down with Rook Nelson to talk about the 2018 season, get a bit personal, and chat about what’s in store for 2019.

Starting in 2016, Rook began to designate a hashtag to represent the year to come. It’s become quite a tradition where he announces the hashtag/year theme at the annual Christmas Party.  Here’s a look at the years past:

#Crush2016

#Enjoy2017

#Challenge2018

Rook Nelson | Skydive Chicago

When asked about #Challenge2018, Rook had said,

#Challenge2018 was certainly that. When I come up with the hashtag for the year, I was predicting the challenges of change: new child, new plane, new staff, etc. The one thing I didn’t think of was weather. We had one of the worst weather years in a long time. Thus, #Challenge2018 became more about the challenging weather.   

As Rook said, one of the challenges he anticipated was acclimating to having his first son, named Rocket, who was welcomed to the world about a year ago. “Being a first-time dad has been a humbling and fulfilling experience.” A full work and competition schedule takes a lot to juggle without the added tasks of fatherhood. Rook simply answered on how he balanced it all was, “Heidi [his new wife], is super mom and beyond the obvious, I could never do this without her.” When asked about what is his favorite thing about being a new dad, he didn’t hesitate to reply, “Hearing the little guy giggle has got to be one of my favorite things!”

This past January Rook and Heidi tied the knot in Park City, Utah. The duo mused about wanting to come back to do something special in the area amongst their travels. They considered a wedding on the beach or mountains, but Park City won out. Rook and Heidi celebrated in the majestic snowy mountains with a small group of their closest friends and family.

For some, just getting married and having a child is a fulfilling year. However, for Rook, a DZO and competitive skydiver, has also been a part of the Vertical Formation Skydiving (VFS) team called, SDC Core for the last three years. SDC Core had an incredible, and dare we say, historic year as they walked away with a gold medal from almost every indoor and outdoor skydiving event they entered.

Rook stated, “We’re getting ready to head to France for the Indoor World Meet. This is the only event we haven’t won….yet!  I’ve been competing for over 20 years and one thing that I’ve learned is you need to find the right teammates. Once you do that winning is a side effect of not letting your team down.”

Rook Nelson | Skydive Chicago

Inquiring about, #Growth2019 Rook said,

This year’s hashtag was designed to encompass our growing family. Not just personal but business as well. Skydive Chicago keeps expanding and we want to embrace this and never take it for granted all the hard work and dedication the SDC team has. When I sat down to brainstorm what could 2019 be, and not be relatable to weather, I quickly came up with Growth2019. Looking past the challenges of 2018, I really bonded with the current management team. We are a hardworking group that doesn’t let job titles get in the way of making it happen. I’m happy to have them back for 2019.

Rook’s goal for this year? To have 25% better weather!

We’re definitely on the edge of our seats rooting for the home team at the upcoming Indoor World Meet in France, and we’ll keep everyone updated on our Facebook page! You can check out our 2019 Calendar of events HERE, or if you’re interested in being welcomed to the skies above Skydive Chicago, click HERE!

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