BE Ultimate sponsored athlete
by BE Ultimate
entally, quarantine was a distinct challenge for Matt Gouchoe-Hanas. It was impossible to know how long the pandemic was going to shut things down for, and so the summer of 2020 was still marked by hard training and preparation in case ultimate returned at a moment’s notice. But lockdown continued, and ultimate remained cancelled, and for Matt, having such a huge piece of his identity removed for so long was incredibly challenging. The shift in mindset was a difficult one to make. Even when playing frisbee golf with friends, they would continue to use ultra-star discs with the belief that it would help with technique when regular play resumed. Changing from the ultimate disc to a frisbee design specifically for disc golf was a big moment for Matt and opened up the idea that quarantine presented an opportunity to try new things and learn new skills.
“It’s been incredibly challenging to feel like I’m missing such a big piece of my identity for such a long time . . . I kind of had to take a step back for my mental health and stop thinking about my life revolving around frisbee and do new things.”
So Matt took up frisbee golf in addition to playing tennis with family and pickleball with friends. Training is still a constant in his life, with the distinct aim of preventing injuries down the line, but it has decreased in amount and intensity. With his fair share of injuries in the past, the idea of keeping his body fit and healthy for a year so he could return to the field at 100% was appealing. But training for Matt has not stopped at his body, as he’s made an intention of learning new skills and trying new things. The most significant of these was the decision to go back to school, pivoting from software development to applied sport psychology and physical therapy. It was a very difficult decision to make, but realizing he wasn’t going to be happy in coding pushed Matt into a new field. He still has two paths to choose from, but already he is happier with his prospects than he was when looking at a career in software.
“Being on the other side now, I’m glad I made the decision to leave that behind and try something else. I’m happier where I am now than where I was.”
What Matt isn’t happy with is how the season with Ring of Fire ended last year, and that has been a huge motivator throughout training in lockdown. Matt was cut from the USA National team in 2020, which has pushed him to better himself and get ready for the next time an opportunity to play on the national team presents itself. His motivation is not all external though, and extends beyond ultimate. A self-proclaimed introvert, Matt didn’t want to stagnate just because the world was, so he has made a point of reading books for self-improvement. He recommends Quiet by Susan Cain. He also took up chess; under the tutelage of his roommate, he dove into the strategy and theory of the complicated game.
“I think something that stood out for me was the value of personal growth. I’ve thought a lot about what I can do to grow as a person and what I can learn. I’ve tried to pick activities or things to read that make me feel like I’m still growing and progressing as a person when so much in the world feels rather stagnant.”
Looking forward, Matt is chasing a club championship and a career. His ideals of self-improvement and constant learning remain unchanged, and as hard as the last year has been, it has set Matt on a path he likes looking down. He’ll get back on the field when it’s safe, when he can be sure he won’t be infected or infect others, and when he can be strong and competitive in play. He’s excited about finding the career that’s right for him, and winning ultimate games as he does it.