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Seattle University


Top of the World

Written by Mike Thee
August 29, 2011

Monica Nixon and Derek Hottell became the latest SU staff members to skydive under the tutelage of freefall instru

Monica Nixon (in pink) takes a dive. 
ctor Major (Retired) Tim Ohno earlier this month.

“It was an absolutely exhilarating experience,” says Nixon, director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs. “The jump almost happened too fast to appreciate it all—reaching 120 miles per hour in under a second on the free fall, floating once the chute was open, taking in the incredible view. This is all from someone who’s afraid of heights and never thought to jump out of a perfectly good airplane. Thanks to Major Ohno for encouraging me to make the jump!” 

Hottell, director of the newly renamed University Recreation, seconds that: “It was an experience I will treasure forever, and I’m extremely grateful Major Ohno was there to help us through the experience. I’m not sure if I would have had the courage to make the leap without him!” 

Nixon and Hottell bring to 10 the number of SU employees who have made tandem jumps under the guidance of Ohno. He usually brings the jumpers to Kapowsin Airsports in Shelton, the largest skydiving drop zone in Washington. There’s no extensive training required for a tandem jump as novices are harnessed to instructors. 

Back on terra firma: Derek Hottell, left, and Monica Nixon, second from right, are pictured here with an instructor and Hottell's wife Megan. 

“It started a while back during one of the Summer in Seattle Orientati on sessions when (Assistant Director of Housing and Residence Life) Tim Albert, (Associate Vice President for Student Development) Michele Murray, (former Assistant Director of Residential Programs) Alvin Mangosing and I were just talking,” says Ohno. “They found out I usually jump on the weekends. Next thing you know they were asking when they could join me on a jump. Word got around and the rest is history. (Former Director of Recreational Sports) Mark Williams told me before he left SU that he'd love to do a skydive. We made that happen before he left in 2010.” 

There is one particular SU person that Ohno has yet to bring along on a dive. “I’ve offered up the opportunity to (President) Father Steve, and he says he will not rule it out, but prefers to keep his feet on the ground for now.”