Leader, Competitor, Judge—Marylou Laughlin Receives USPA Lifetime Achievement Award
Homepage USPA | Dec 03, 2021
Leader, Competitor, Judge—Marylou Laughlin Receives USPA Lifetime Achievement Award

USPA Staff

 USPA bestows its Lifetime Achievement Award on skydivers “in recognition of outstanding sportsmanship, skill or personal contribution to the sport of parachuting and the United States Parachute Association, its goals and purposes.” Renowned skydiving competitor and judge Marylou Laughlin, D-12418, personifies those qualities, and at its recent summer meeting, the USPA Board of Directors unanimously chose her as the 2021 recipient of this prestigious honor.

Laughlin started skydiving in 1988, going through the student program at Connecticut Parachutists Inc. in Ellington. Although she has accumulated more than 4,000 jumps all over the country—and indeed, the world—she still considers CPI her home DZ.

In the early 1990s, Laughlin became heavily involved in competition, first in the classic events of style and accuracy and then in para-ski. During her time as a competitor, she won five gold, seven silver and seven bronze medals at the USPA Nationals, earning a spot on eight U.S. Parachute Teams—three for para-ski (1993, 1995 and 1999) and five for style and accuracy (1994, 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2000). Laughlin is also an accomplished formation skydiver and canopy formation skydiver who has set several state records.

It was her interest in improving as a competitor that got her started in judging. As she said in her October 2019 Parachutist Profile: “I was told back when I first started competing that competition is a game, and the rules are part of the game. Learn them and use them. I was still competing and decided to become a judge to be a better competitor. I started judging at the Collegiate Nationals. I did that for years and enjoyed the entire Collegiates experience, especially the competitors! I got my Fédération Aéronautique Internationale Accuracy Judge rating to learn even more, and I was invited by the Golden Knights to be their judge at CISM (the military world championships).”

Once Laughlin stopped competing in the 2000s, she focused her considerable energies on judging. She is an Accuracy Landing and Canopy Piloting Judge Examiner; an Accuracy Landing, Canopy Formation, Canopy Piloting, Formation Skydiving and Style National Judge; and an FAI Canopy Piloting Judge. She has served as chief judge at countless national and international competitions, including the recent FAI World Parachuting Championships in Tanay, Russia. She also teaches national and international judging courses and says that she loves “to open the judging side of competition to competitors, as well as others who want to learn.”

Aside from judging, Laughlin has served USPA and its members as the Northeast Regional Director from 1999-2012. A tireless USPA leader, she spent time as the Competition Committee chair, Executive Committee at-large member and delegate to the International Parachuting Commission (now called the International Skydiving Commission) of the FAI. Internationally, she has served as head of delegation, jury member, FAI Controller, bureau member and ISC Vice President.

In 2004, the U.S. Army Parachute Team Golden Knights gave her recognition for her years of service by naming her an Honorary Golden Knight. In 2014, the FAI chose to bestow upon her its prestigious Leonardo da Vinci Parachuting Diploma, stating, “We do not believe there is another judge in the world in the last 10 years who has conducted more judge training camps and been responsible for the issuing of more initial judge’s ratings than Ms. Laughlin.”

Never one to slow down, Laughlin—who seemingly has limitless energy—is secretary of the International Skydiving Museum Board of Trustees. She serves on its Development and Marketing Committees, is chair of the Path of Excellence/Pioneers of Excellence Committee and co-chair of the Nominations & Elections Committee.

On top of all of this, Lauglin scuba dives (she has a PADI Advanced Open Water certification) and holds a private pilot’s license. She’s also a reiki practitioner and animal lover who founded the 501(c)(3) charity Reiki Wildlife International, which teaches reiki techniques to animal sanctuaries, conservation groups, rescues, caregivers and communities around the world.

On the evening of October 28, Laughlin accepted her Lifetime Achievement Award at—where else? — the USPA Nationals. At a lively ceremony sponsored by Sun Path Products directly following the 8-way formation skydiving and wingsuit flying medal ceremonies, Laughlin’s former colleagues on the USPA Board—Bill Wenger and Lee Schlichtemeier—spoke to the crowd that had assembled to honor her. Both men extolled her good humor, dedication and professionalism. As Wenger commented, “when you ask Marylou to do something, you don’t even need to think about it anymore. You know she’ll get it done. She’ll get it done right, and she’ll get it done professionally.”

Photo by David Cherry.

Cheers and whistles rippled through the crowd as Schlichtemeier called Laughlin to the stage. Flanked by Schlichtemeier, Wenger and Executive Director Albert Berchtold, Laughlin accepted the Lifetime Achievement Award—a silver bowl on a walnut base—with a citation that reads, “For unsurpassed selfless contribution to the sport of skydiving and the United States Parachute Association as a leader, competitor, judge and U.S. representative within the international skydiving community.”

 USPA bestows its Lifetime Achievement Award on skydivers “in recognition of outstanding sportsmanship, skill or personal contribution to the sport of parachuting and the United States Parachute Association, its goals and purposes.” Renowned skydiving competitor and judge Marylou Laughlin, D-12418, personifies those qualities, and at its recent summer meeting, the USPA Board of Directors unanimously chose her as the 2021 recipient of this prestigious honor.

Laughlin started skydiving in 1988, going through the student program at Connecticut Parachutists Inc. in Ellington. Although she has accumulated more than 4,000 jumps all over the country—and indeed, the world—she still considers CPI her home DZ.

In the early 1990s, Laughlin became heavily involved in competition, first in the classic events of style and accuracy and then in para-ski. During her time as a competitor, she won five gold, seven silver and seven bronze medals at the USPA Nationals, earning a spot on eight U.S. Parachute Teams—three for para-ski (1993, 1995 and 1999) and five for style and accuracy (1994, 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2000). Laughlin is also an accomplished formation skydiver and canopy formation skydiver who has set several state records.

It was her interest in improving as a competitor that got her started in judging. As she said in her October 2019 Parachutist Profile: “I was told back when I first started competing that competition is a game, and the rules are part of the game. Learn them and use them. I was still competing and decided to become a judge to be a better competitor. I started judging at the Collegiate Nationals. I did that for years and enjoyed the entire Collegiates experience, especially the competitors! I got my Fédération Aéronautique Internationale Accuracy Judge rating to learn even more, and I was invited by the Golden Knights to be their judge at CISM (the military world championships).”

Once Laughlin stopped competing in the 2000s, she focused her considerable energies on judging. She is an Accuracy Landing and Canopy Piloting Judge Examiner; an Accuracy Landing, Canopy Formation, Canopy Piloting, Formation Skydiving and Style National Judge; and an FAI Canopy Piloting Judge. She has served as chief judge at countless national and international competitions, including the recent FAI World Parachuting Championships in Tanay, Russia. She also teaches national and international judging courses and says that she loves “to open the judging side of competition to competitors, as well as others who want to learn.”

Aside from judging, Laughlin has served USPA and its members as the Northeast Regional Director from 1999-2012. A tireless USPA leader, she spent time as the Competition Committee chair, Executive Committee at-large member and delegate to the International Parachuting Commission (now called the International Skydiving Commission) of the FAI. Internationally, she has served as head of delegation, jury member, FAI Controller, bureau member and ISC Vice President.

In 2004, the U.S. Army Parachute Team Golden Knights gave her recognition for her years of service by naming her an Honorary Golden Knight. In 2014, the FAI chose to bestow upon her its prestigious Leonardo da Vinci Parachuting Diploma, stating, “We do not believe there is another judge in the world in the last 10 years who has conducted more judge training camps and been responsible for the issuing of more initial judge’s ratings than Ms. Laughlin.”

Never one to slow down, Laughlin—who seemingly has limitless energy—is secretary of the International Skydiving Museum Board of Trustees. She serves on its Development and Marketing Committees, is chair of the Path of Excellence/Pioneers of Excellence Committee and co-chair of the Nominations & Elections Committee.

On top of all of this, Lauglin scuba dives (she has a PADI Advanced Open Water certification) and holds a private pilot’s license. She’s also a reiki practitioner and animal lover who founded the 501(c)(3) charity Reiki Wildlife International, which teaches reiki techniques to animal sanctuaries, conservation groups, rescues, caregivers and communities around the world.

On the evening of October 28, Laughlin accepted her Lifetime Achievement Award at—where else? — the USPA Nationals. At a lively ceremony sponsored by Sun Path Products directly following the 8-way formation skydiving and wingsuit flying medal ceremonies, Laughlin’s former colleagues on the USPA Board—Bill Wenger and Lee Schlichtemeier—spoke to the crowd that had assembled to honor her. Both men extolled her good humor, dedication and professionalism. As Wenger commented, “when you ask Marylou to do something, you don’t even need to think about it anymore. You know she’ll get it done. She’ll get it done right, and she’ll get it done professionally.”

Cheers and whistles rippled through the crowd as Schlichtemeier called Laughlin to the stage. Flanked by Schlichtemeier, Wenger and Executive Director Albert Berchtold, Laughlin accepted the Lifetime Achievement Award—a silver bowl on a walnut base—with a citation that reads, “For unsurpassed selfless contribution to the sport of skydiving and the United States Parachute Association as a leader, competitor, judge and U.S. representative within the international skydiving community.”

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