Player Profile: Jonathan “Goose” Helton

After every game, Jonathan “Goose” Helton stretches. It’s his routine. On a particularly muggy Friday night in late June, the Chicago Wildfire star eased into a low lunge, his arms yawning open and upwards, giving his body a well-deserved release.

“I’m beat,” Helton said, a lazy smile spread wide across his face.

Rightly so—in the Wildfire’s 24-19 week 11 loss to divisional rival Madison Radicals, Helton led his team with five goals and four assists, and essentially ran 30-yard shuttles throughout the game. As he stretched, swarms of gnats descended on the lighted field, gathering on Helton’s arms and legs and flying into his mouth as he spoke. His lame swatting at the bugs was the worst showcase of defense exhibited by the two-time AUDL MVP all season.

But to be fair, it was the first time Helton stopped moving all week. Between his day job as a wealth management advisor, moonlighting as a professional ultimate player and captain for the Chicago Wildfire, captaining (and tweeting for) elite club team Chicago Machine, working out with ultimate fitness guru Tim Morrill, coaching as a lead instructor at the Chicago Ultimate Training camp, or just tinkering with his cars, Helton is always on the go.

It’s a part of his personality—one that rates as an ENTP on the Meyer-Brigg’s scale (the “Inventor” type, for those unfamiliar with the breakdown). Helton finds knowledge of his personality type “cathartic and empowering,” and it’s easy to see the traits come through.

Helton is outgoing, easy to get along with, clever and quick—as in quick-witted. He’s the type that can ricochet from topic to topic, and slip in a few jokes while he’s at it. A question about the value ultimate brings to the kids he coaches turned from a contemplative look at the incredible opportunities ultimate provides, to musings on the purity of the grassroots nature the sport gives to kids seeking a physical outlet, tothoughts about the trajectory of ultimate in broader culture.

“We’re getting sick of the articles that mention ultimate with a dog in them,” he said. “Which is funny, because we were SO excited when those articles first started coming out.”

And then, in the same breath, he expressed his love for all things Twitter. “It provides me with two things: easy access to Ultimate-related goings-on as well as jokes. I’m a big fan of jokes. Jokes are for laughs.”

While he might be somewhat irreverent off the field, Helton’s more than 10 years of playing experience gives him an intuitive ultimate sense that makes him a serious threat on the field. He’s pretty good at sizing up situations on field, and figuring out ways to exploit the mistakes his opponents make. Since joining the league in 2012, first with the AlleyCats and then the Wildfire, he’s become one of the AUDL’s dominant defensive players. He holds the league’s record for Ds (85 – don’t let that lame gnat swatting fool you), and set a single-game record at 8.

He’s a threat on offense, too, especially when he gets fired up.

“I remember a game in 2012 with the AlleyCats when I had a lackluster first half,” he said. “Brodie [Smith] asked me what gets me fired up. I told him I didn’t really know, and he told me that for Kurt [Gibson] it was torching someone deep or skying them. I told him we should try it. Right out of the half I sky two defenders from a Brodie huck. I was on fire for the rest of the game. I will never forget that.”

In his three years of professional play, Helton continually thinks about ways to become a better player and a better teammate - "We're the only sport that requires two players to score." His training program is designed to help him stay as physically dominant for as long as possible rather than focusing on performance gains, and also tries to apply his coursework as a philosophy major at Wheaton College to his overall approach to life and ultimate. ENTPs are defined as thinkers, after all.

“I’m just going to throw a lot of things out there rather than reach at eloquent prose,” he said, beginning to rattle off what defines him and what has influenced him. “I am a Christian and try to live purposed life.” He likes to read, has a minor in music, and enjoys BBC’s Top Gear. He hopes that some of the kids he coaches might have the same “life changing experience” he had when he first began playing ultimate.

Helton is a storyteller– “Goose” comes from his Mother Goose-esque tendency to spin a good yarn. But sometimes keeping it simple says the most.

“We’re all just here to have fun in the first place," Helton said. "To run around and express ourselves competitively.”

-Adam Ruffner and Caitlin Cieslik-Miskimen