BE Ultimate sponsored athlete
by BE Ultimate
ltimate can be accurately compared to a handful of sports, such as American football, rugby, and disc golf. For Gabriel Hernandez, disc golf filled the frisbee void that was left when the 2020 tournament season was cut short by the pandemic. A natural competitor and gifted athlete, Gabe took up disc golf with a will, not simply to play but to win. Entering in tournaments, winning some, and seeing just how far some people go with the sport of disc golf was a fresh and exciting opportunity for Gabriel, and one that he plans on sticking with even after ultimate resumes. It’s a sport that places all the pressure and success on a single individual, an aspect that required some adjusting for the ultimate athlete. Where once there was a team to bolster and be bolstered by, now it's all on him. It’s a different type of pressure, and while it can be easy to get dug into a hole, Gabe has enjoyed the competitiveness and the opportunity to see other members of the ultimate community who have taken up the new sport.
“I’ve been playing a lot, getting better. Playing in tournaments, winning some tournaments, so we’ll see where that ends up.”
While disc golf can be a surprising workout, consisting of walking for long periods of a day between holes, that’s not the only activity Gabe has been getting. With extra time on his hands, he’s included regular runs as well as outdoor CrossFit with a neighbor who sets up a course in the neighborhood cul-de-sac. The lack of ultimate has opened up time in Gabriel’s schedule and allowed him to branch out not only into disc golf, but also to other projects that have been important to him for years. Mainly, his music. In 2020 Gabe was able to release his first single on Spotify, and he is already in the works to release an EP later this year. Music has been a longtime passion, and being able to take some time away from the ultimate field has left space to fulfill that goal. The time has brought to mind other potential for changes in the near future.
“I’ve always loved music, I’ve always loved making music. Seeing people share it and getting their reactions is cool.”
A teacher by trade, Gabriel is considering a change of career, either moving from teaching to school administration or going back and acquiring a law degree to move into the policy side of education. Much like ultimate, Gabe’s future is still up in the air. Looking ahead, clarity will come with time, and within the next few years Gabe looks forward to solidifying his career path, making more music, finding a committed partner, and if ultimate returns, winning a championship. At the moment, Gabe’s not entirely sure where ultimate is going to fit into his future. Looking back, it played such a significant role in his life and he devoted a lot of time to it, but life moves fast and change comes on quick. For Gabe, that means figuring out what another season would look like.
“If I do decide to come back to play, it’ll be to play to win.”
The time off has provided clarity and reflection. Gabe noticed the need to be intentional with relationships, to reach out to family members who no longer live close by and friends he doesn't want to lose. It also means communicating in the community. For ultimate players to stay motivated and healthy, Gabe recommends reaching out. Find other athletes to inspire you or even just talk with, figure out something you can do together, or chat about what you’ve been enjoying. It’s okay to feel unsure about continuing with ultimate, or any other sport or hobby, and you should never be afraid to talk about it. Talking about doubts or getting excited for seasons to come is easier to do together, and Gabe emphasizes that teammates and community members are a great place to go to talk. Finding strength and inspiration in others is one of the reasons ultimate is such an amazing sport, and a global pandemic will never change that. Whether or not Gabriel Hernandez plays another season of ultimate, he will always be an ultimate player.
“Community is really the most important part of it. Feel comfortable reaching out to people, talking, there’s nothing wrong with that. Right now it’s hard to be consistent, but that’s not a bad thing.”