“He wants to be the best player in the world.”
Jonathan “Goose” Helton is a man on a mission. Like many players, he began taking ultimate seriously while in college and quickly realized that the natural talent and athleticism he possessed wouldn’t be enough. Double majoring in music and philosophy meant his time was limited at best, but when Helton found out he had abnormal vocal cords and some of his dreams may not be achievable, that load lightened. Suddenly, the man who would go on to be known as Goose found he had the time to craft himself into an icon of the sport of ultimate.
And he did.
“I look for inspiration in people from all different walks of life. I look for their particular talents, attributes that they have that I would like to make my own. Those things inspire me to be better. I’m constantly working on being better.”
Helton went on to play with several clubs after college. In a time when ultimate was a lesser-known sport, a new professional league joined the scene. The American Ultimate Disc League held its first season in 2012, and the nearest team was a four-hour drive away. But Helton is a man who does nothing halfway, and more important than sitting in a car was seeing professional ultimate become a recognized sport.
Helton joined the Indianapolis Alleycats, dedicating himself fully despite the distance. That season, Helton was named the league’s first MVP. He had made his mark on ultimate history and had taken a huge step closer to being the best in the world.
“He’s really driven by that deeper mission of 'If you can, you must.' And we know that he can.”
Fitness guru Tim Morrill was not inconsequential in Helton's quest. The two were introduced after Helton witnessed some of the players he knew adding huge gains while training with Tim, and he wanted in.
“It’s not easy, what he does. I’ve seen how hard and how consistent he’s trained all these years, and I’ve seen the adversity he’s been through. He’s been through a lot of ups and downs, but he stays true to his mission.”
Ultimate is not a sport that has ever been limited to the field. Is Helton one of the fastest, most athletic players in the world? Yes. Does he have an unbridled curiosity about how to improve everything from his throws to his blocks? Yes. Does he contribute to the ultimate community?
Beyond the fact that he’s a stand-up guy with a great sense of humor, Helton has been coaching and donating his time for years. Upon moving closer to his team, he almost immediately began searching for a team to coach, eventually taking up a position with a new high school program. He also donated his time and expertise with Breaking Borders, a non-profit using ultimate to foster youth development.
“Get an opportunity to coach. Being able to take what you know, completely reframe it in a way that you’ll be able to teach it, makes you understand it better as a player.”
Is Jonathan “Goose” Helton the best player in the world?
It doesn’t matter. Whether he is or he isn’t, he’ll never stop aiming high and pushing himself to be better. He’ll never stop learning and seeking to help those around him. On his mission to be the best, Helton became an ultimate legend.
“He’s a model for how to live a courageous and authentic and value-driven life.”