Breaking Borders board member Jonathan "Goose" Helton recently made team USA for the WUGC tournament this summer in London. I got a chance to catch up with him about the tryout experience, what he's looking forward to, and more:
Q. I wanna start by talking asking about your training going into the tryouts. I know you were working with Morrill Performance. How did you get involved with that, and how do you think it helped you performance at tryouts? Also, you gotta let us know what your max lifts are.
A. Tim Morrill and I became friends back in 2011. Since then I have been a bit of a leech, trying to learn as much as I can from him. A couple of years ago, Tim suggested I get a certification so that I could become an official coach for him should the day come when he needed me. I became a Certified Functional Strength Coach shortly after at Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning. Ever since then I have been writing my own training programs, but it all stems from my relationship with Tim and his functional training recipe. I am certain that the training helped me prepare for tryouts. But the work that helped me get a roster spot was years in the making, not just 100 days. As for the lifts, I should really retest! The last time I heavy deadlifted, I maxed at 455lbs.
Q. What were your nerves like coming into the tryouts?
A. Honestly, I was far more excited than nervous. I knew I had prepared the best I could to that point. There were no doubts in my mind that I could have done anything more to have a good tryout. When you are in that mindset, it's simply time to show up.
Q. There was a lot of hype coming into these tryouts, and obviously the talent that was present must've been incredible. Were you particularly surprised by anyone in particular?
A. The talent pool in the U.S. in incredibly deep. I (obviously) only attended 1 of the 2 costal tryouts and was still very impressed with the aptitude of the tryout attendees. I wasn't too surprised by anyone, mostly because I expected everyone to be more talented than me, but just hopefully less prepared.
Q. Give us a personal rose and thorn (highlight and lowlight) from the tryouts.
A. Rose: We were told that winning the scrimmages was important, not just individual performance. My teams won 5 out of 6. Thorn: I threw a huck turnover on double game point. The disc just came out of my hand a little high. I was secretly devastated, but being upset about it before the point is over nearly always the wrong move. Luckily I helped force a turn from the other team, a point we later scored.
Q. There was some talk about the injuries that occurred during the tryout process. Did you feel that the schedule was too demanding on the athletes' bodies?
A. The schedule was certainly demanding. The West Coast tryout seemingly had more injuries than the East Coast. I don't think our tryout (East Coast) experienced as many injuries in part because the fields were ordinary. It was reported that the West Coast fields were abominably hard. Injuries are far too common in Ultimate and the sad thing is many are preventable. I know there were at least 3 hamstring injuries in Orlando. Techniques of how to warm up and activate the right muscles should be commonly held knowledge in Ultimate athletes at this point, but it isn't. I really hoping that the website Tim Morrill and I have been working on can really help shed some light in that area, keeping players on the field.
Q. Who are you most excited to be playing with at Worlds?
A. Wow, I'm not really sure. This may sound like a copout, but I'm really excited to play with everyone! I have only been teammates with two of our players before, Alan Kolick and Tyler D. for Beach Worlds. I can't wait to play alongside, for once rather than against, all of these incredible guys.
Q. The Canadian team's roster looks pretty strong and the Japanese team is always a force to be reckoned with; are there any other teams that are on your radar? Anyone you're looking forward to playing against?
A. Championships are only meaningful if they are against some formidable odds. I hope Canada and Japan and several other countries, like maybe the UK or Australia, bring teams that are ready to battle. It's fun when it's hard. I want us to be tested.
Q. What does your training regiment look like for the next few months headed into Worlds?
A. Well, I'm currently in Boracay, Philippines. I don't have great internet here, so I'm a lot less likely to post training videos akin to my pre-tryout training days. However, I am still lifting three days a week, and playing beach Ultimate with the Boracay Dragons five days a week. Beach can be a great way to training while far away from a grass peak. You recruit a lot of less dominate muscle engagement and raise your lactic thresholds. You also have to be a little more precise with the disc. Conveniently, the US Beach National Championships also takes place weeks before London, so my beach training is doing double duty.
Q. From what I understand, you've relocated to Florida from Chicago. Is this move semi-permanent, or will you be heading to DC for the AUDL season? What are your plans for the club season? Is playing for Florida United an option?
A. You heard correctly. However, I have since moved the majority of my stuff to Ocean City, MD. I'll be housemates with Tim Morrill and playing for the DC Breeze. I don't know how long I will reside there. My current plan is just to stay until the end of the AUDL season. But long before then, I will need to make a Club decision. I truly love playing with Chicago Machine. Being a travel player for them could be a great way to spend the season. I'm in talks with Bob Liu and Brett Matzuka as to where we as a collective group (plus one other highly talented player) feel is best. Stay tuned?
Q. What is your role with Breaking Borders?
A. I am a board member of Breaking Borders. A couple of good hearted guys started the NPO and wisely sought to get additional oversight and leadership via a Board Model. As board members, we try to pool resources and also offer guidance to the people like Chasen Brokaw that are trying to help make a difference in the world via Ultimate and leadership training.
Q. What does the Breaking Borders mission statement mean to you?
A. It means leveraging my favorite sport into a tool that can help mold well rounded, empowered youth of character.
Q. What can I do to help support Breaking Borders in their projects?
A. Donate, volunteer! Spread the word that Breaking Borders exists!
*Bonus question: When DC plays the Empire this summer, how many times am I gonna sky you?
*Bonus answer: Zero times. But...I am getting old...
Thanks Goose! We'll be rooting for you to bring home the gold this summer!
You can help the Breaking Borders movement by checking out our latest missions HERE.