All-female skydiving team hosts class from Grande Innovation

May 28, 2021

This story was written by Maria Vasquez for the Eloy Enterprise and published on May 26th, 2021.

The Highlight Pro Skydiving Team made Skydive Arizona their home this month as they held a training camp to practice their aerial performances.

On their final day of camp, they hosted a group of girls from Grande Innovation Academy to learn about their initiative and watch one of their demonstrations.

The Highlight Pro Skydiving Team is an all-female group of 12 professional skydivers who strive to inspire women and girls to live bold, brave lives of their own design.

“Our team is special because we use skydiving as a vehicle to capture attention and raise awareness around social justice and positive social change issues,” co-founder Melanie Curtis said. “We love skydiving, it’s one of the things that we very much love about what we do in our lives, individually and collectively as a group, but we know it’s not for everyone. Maybe you’ll be inspired to go skydiving later on in your lives, maybe not, but it’s really about what is it that you are called to do? What is it that you’re called to be, brave to step into?”

Curtis added that while the team’s mission is to elevate women, that does not mean that they are about excluding men. It’s more about what women can do when they come together.

During their time at the dropzone, the girls from Grande Innovation got to sit inside a plane, learned how to use a parachute and how to prepare for a jump with the heavy flags that the skydivers use.

The team performs demonstrations with smoke canisters, flags and streamers, and does formation landings. Typically the size of the flags are either 15 feet by 25 feet or 5 feet by 8 feet, and they can weigh more than 50 pounds.

The idea began when Mayor Micah Powell spoke with Councilwoman Sara Curtis, who is a member of the Highlight Pro Skydiving Team.

“My daughter is an eighth grader and is going into high school next year,” Powell said. “A lot of times they’re influenced by social media, and I saw how important the Highlight Team is with women’s rights and women’s this and women’s that, not so much about social media, but taking care of themselves as women.”

The group from Grande Innovation Academy, including Powell’s daughter, was part of a test run as it was the first time the skydivers had hosted a class.

“I felt it was important for middle school-aged girls to see that it’s not about social media,” Powell said. “There’s life other than that and if they could see how important their beliefs or that their voices can be heard. We have to capture that at a young age, especially when girls nowadays are so vulnerable, so you want to give them that voice.”

Sara stated that the team has always wanted a way to reach kids, but since the team mostly came together during the pandemic, there hasn’t been a lot of personal interaction with the public.

Skydiving has typically been a male-dominant sport; only 15% of skydivers in the United States are women.

The team began when the Women’s Skydiving Network came up with the idea of doing a big demonstration jump to commemorate the day the 19th Amendment came down to one vote.

“For us to put together an all-women’s team is kind of a big deal,” Sara said. “It’s one of the first things of its kind. There have been other women’s teams before, but not at this level and doing all this challenging stuff.”

She echoed Melanie’s comments about not trying to get the girls excited about skydiving, necessarily, but getting them excited about the fact that they can do whatever they want to make a life for themselves.

“Whatever their dream is, they should follow that,” Sara said. “It probably won’t be skydiving, but it might be something that’s not a traditional thing that you would necessarily do like get a job and start a family. There’s nothing wrong with that, but if you have other ideas, then you can pursue them. We want to show young girls that whatever your dreams are, if it’s to be a basketball player or a pro hockey player, whatever it is that might seem sort of like weird, but you want to do it, you can just go ahead and find your dreams and go for it.”

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