Above: Herding Katz—2023 C.G. Godfrog Good Vibes Award. Photo by Anthony Amendariz.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, formation skydivers (then called “relative workers”) had the reputation of being the long-haired, counter-culture rebels of the sport, while the reputation of style and accuracy jumpers was that of clean-cut, serious competitors. So, when 10-way speed formation skydiving (called “10-man” before the gender-neutral “10-way” came into usage in 1978) debuted at the USPA Nationals in 1972, there was concern among many in the relative work community that their favorite discipline would become too serious.
As RW pioneer Pat Works wrote in 1972, “Some years ago style and accuracy meets were a lot of fun. For some reason, this fun aspect was lost. There is a very real fear that USPA may ‘organize’ the fun out of relative work.” So, at the first Nationals 10-way event, Works—who was competing with his 4-way team The Godfrogs and 10-way team Hinckley All of the Above—decided to come up with the community’s own trophy, which wouldn’t celebrate performance but sportsmanship, fellowship, fun and “good vibes.”
To create the spur-of-the-moment award, Works tore the top off of a small, green, plastic table. To it, he stapled 10 beanbag frogs that his mother had sewn for his team to work out their formations. He named the award the “C.G. Godfrog Good Vibes Award” after Carlos Gene Wallace, D-152, a notoriously wild character who gained the nickname “Godfrog,” because he’d preach when he was drinking. On the back were numerous inscriptions, written in a style that can accurately be described as “trippy,” including the purpose of the award:
“The Fellowship of the Ring
Awarded to the team emitting GOOD Vibes
in the face of Heavy Competition”
The Godfrogs circa early 1970s.
C.G. Godfrog Good Vibes Award
Throughout its long history, the C.G. Godfrog Award has remained a completely grass-roots affair. Each year, the previous winner of the 10-way event bestows the Godfrog upon the 10-way team that had the best attitude and the most fun during the current Nationals. (It is not a USPA award, though USPA appreciates its history and always makes room for it during the medals ceremony.) Over the years, the recipients have added inscriptions, plaques and various other items to the trophy (e.g., the pink panties on the frogs thanks to Pink Panty Patrol in 1999). At some point, hinged pieces of wood were added to expand the space available for winning teams to make their contributions.
A lot has changed about relative work/formation skydiving, besides just the terminology, in 50 years. The 4-way event is no longer a two-formation timed speed event, as it was in the early 1970s. There are now 8-way, 16-way, vertical and mixed formation skydiving competitions. The 10-way event is no longer an international event. (The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale added it in 1975 and eliminated it in 1983.) Through it all, the tradition of 10-way speed at Nationals and the accompanying C.G. Godfrog Good Vibes Award has been a constant. This year, the 2022 Godfrog recipient, Bootieless, carried on the tradition and presented Herding Katz with the award. And so the history of sportsmanship and fun continues. Pat Works and the teams of 1972 would be proud.