If you live in Montrose, Colorado and perhaps the surrounding area, you have probably heard of Classics Barbershop on 18 S. Cascade. It’s because the owner’s uncanny wit and raw talent draw in people to sit for an hour or two to hang out for a haircut in the classic style barber shop. The face behind the shop is none other than Gunnison native, Kodie Coblentz.
Kodie is well-known in this area as a savvy barber but he had another side of him that stirred. A side that yearned to fly. “I have two distinct memories of my interest in the sky,” he started, “When I was five I dreamed about being a trapeze artist, However it wasn’t until I was about six or seven that I asked my mother if I could buy a parachute so I could jump off of our roof. She was perplexed and told me to ask my father. We headed to his barber shop where I pleaded my case only to get a resounding no.”
Kodie grew up in a ranching community in the middle of nowhere. He always felt like he never fit in and throughout his years he discovered rock and roll, skateboarding and tattoos. Then, he found rodeo. “My father used to take us to the rodeo on Tuesday and Thursday nights while he team-roped. One night I sat and watched a bull named, Hurricane, who had won the PRCA Bull of the Year in 2001. I spend a better part of 20 minutes trying to befriend him and pat his head. When he was within five inches, he charged the fence! I was safe on the other side but the rush of adrenaline was captivating!”
Kodie approached his dad that moment that he wanted to raise rodeo bulls and they bought their first cow that very week. He happily raised rodeo bulls for a decade, played the part of a rodeo clown, and was a bullfighter. He thrived in every moment from preparation, to being in the moment, and then seeing the result. “I was immersed into the rodeo community which was very much like family, and felt like everyone had my back, and wanted to see me succeed,” he reminisced.
This lifestyle of rodeo lingered within Kodie. “I think we all love the idea of flying, and the only thing standing between us and doing it, is the fear of the unknown,” Kodie shared with the idea of how skydiving was firmly ingrained. “After a divorce and working on “being better,” I’d run an obstacle course race and was just trying to embrace and enjoy life. I found a dropzone close and tried to book a jump. I think the drive to escape my comfort zone was very high at that point, and I was pushing my own boundaries.”
Dreaming of Skydiving
At a family dinner before the scheduled jump Kodie’s dad advised that he shouldn’t go skydiving since he was a single parent whose children depended on him. So Kodie canceled the jump, blocked the dropzones phone number, and forgot about skydiving for a time. “I don’t think the desire to try skydiving ever went away. I always knew it was something I wanted to try, I just needed an excuse to bring it back up again,” Kodie said.
Fast forward to 2018, Kodie had a client for about a year who’d talk about skydiving and that he opened up the skydiving center in Delta, Colorado called Ultimate Skydiving Adventures. His name – Ben Lowe. Anytime Ben had come in the shop, the conversation always turned into anything skydiving. “I still hadn’t gotten over the idea of making that skydive years before and knew it was something that would eventually happen,” Kodie remembered, “Between the increased talk about skydiving happening in his barber shop and the little voice in the back of my head, I decided it was well past time to just do it.”
“I made my first Tandem Skydive on August 15th, 2019 at Ultimate Skydiving Adventures and I did all the typical newbie stuff like asked if I got goggles, checked my straps a hundred times, and I probably hyperventilated on the plane ride,” Kodie joked. “I wasn’t prepared. I had no idea what I was doing. But I was committed and the last thing I did was take a big “oh shit” breath before Ben launched us out of the plane into freefall!”
Of course now, Kodie talks much about his skydiving to his barber shop clients. “I’ve tried to explain the euphoria of the first jump to clients and friends a million times. The best explanation is a quote I’ve found:
To those who jump, no explanation is necessary, to those who don’t jump, no explanation is possible.
Kodie continued, “In fractions of a second you can see the fear turn into complete bliss and joy. The moment I left that airplane my life changed. It was the first time, in a long time, that nothing else mattered. That moment, and that action, was the single event that ever existed, and ever would. And that is what keeps me jumping. I have a career, centered around providing a service to other people. I am a single father of two. But in those moments between leaving a plane, and touching the ground, I am the only thing that deserves my attention.”
However, Kodie wanted more than that one jump. He tossed and turned all night. He knew what he was getting into. “In February of 2020, Ben gave me the opportunity to take the first jump ground school, as a birthday present. Ben and I had become good friends and he answered my million questions about the sport. I was consumed with an infatuation and fear of the sport. I took the ground school, and was immediately overwhelmed. I felt like I was taught the million ways that I could die, and how to handle the million ways that my parachute could try and kill me. But as someone new to the idea, I wasn’t exactly sure how to handle that information. And a month later we got hit with a Pandemic.”
During this interim before his first solo, Kodie had organized a “Classics Barber Shop Skydive Day” that summer with nine friends making their first jump. I reconnected with Ben to commit to a training schedule to earn my license that fit in my schedule. And there I was on August 1st, 2020 taking the course again, but this time, with a friend by my side.”
The rest they may say, is history. By the end of 2020 Kodie earned his first skydive certification, is nearing 100 jumps, and has done many steps to complete his B-license. “I am always overcoming fear. I’m not afraid of skydiving in the same way that I was a year ago, but I still have a butterfly feeling on the first jump of the week. Skydiving has also shown me how to handle any kind of fear or of the unknown in my everyday life. When I jump now, I know what to expect but I also see how to handle what I don’t expect.”
What Skydiving Means to Me
Kodie explained how through skydiving he has also learned a lot about family, friends, and having a ‘wolf pack.’ “Skydiving and the dropzone is the one place that I have found where everyone really wants you to succeed. There is no jealousy, animosity… because there isn’t any room for it. When I come out to the drop zone I’m not spending time with friends. I’m hanging out with family! I know that every single person there supports me. I have my friends that I’m jumping with. The pilot. The awesome lady running manifest. And I know that when I leave the plane, everyone not jumping is watching in case things go wrong. We are all working together to try and have safe, fun jumps. Skydiving showed me that relationships that aren’t like that, aren’t worth your time. We need people in our lives that support, encourage, push us, and always have your back.”
The sport of skydiving and the community has also shown Kodie a much deeper sense of life in such a subtle but profound way. Kodie began saying, “Most recently I’ve tried focusing on “being present, which is ironically supposed to be the thing I love most about this sport. But lately I’ve noticed that I’m so focused on a jump, that I don’t enjoy the plane ride. And honestly… as skydivers we really need to remember that – that simple trip before our jumps, is something that some people never get to experience. I mean, how freaking cool is it to be in an airplane?!? I look forward to skydiving all week long, and when I leave the DZ I want to be able to look back and remember every second in detail. That has really transferred over into my real life as well. Listening to my kids tell silly stories, or a client talking about their child’s band recital. There is beauty and importance in every moment. And I don’t want to miss out on that anymore.”
“There is something beautiful and pure about falling through the air that only exists in that moment,” Kodie continued. “When people ask me why I jump, they always ask about the adrenaline, the adventure, the “rock and roll.” And that’s not why I jump. I compare skydiving to meditation when people ask. I love this sport, not because of the loud, intense, and insane moments. But because of the quiet, peaceful, and present parts. It takes me out of my hectic life, and puts me immediately, in a place where nothing else matters. And we all need that from time-to-time. We all get wrapped up in life – and it might be big problems, or they might be small. But if you can force yourself out of a plane, you can do anything.”
Kodie looks back 23 years later while folding a parachute, or looking out the window of a plane and he can’t help but smile. He says, “Because somewhere inside of me, there is a six-year-old that finally got his wish.”