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Thoughts from the Ultimate Community on Mental Health Within our Sport

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Thoughts from the Ultimate Community on Mental Health Within our Sport

The subject of mental health is often overlooked in the sports community. As ultimate players, coaches, and teammates, we hope that by presenting some of the viewpoints held by members of the community, we’ll be able to increase awareness and encourage discussion about this important topic.




“I’ve been struggling a lot with my mental health recently and ultimate has been both a positive and negative thing in the last few weeks. It got me thinking about what other people’s experiences in the community were. So when I got the opportunity to run this account for a week I thought it could be a good chance to reach out and ask the question. I did not expect the reaction and the amount of people that have shared their experiences is inspirational. The more we talk about mental health in our community, the more we break down the stigma. It truly has been amazing to see how many people have had similar experiences with their mental health and ultimate. It’s been such a great reminder that we are not alone in this.”

- Rebecca Thompson (current handler of the BeingUlti account)


In June 2017, Being Ulti (@being_ulti) started a twitter thread that sparked a conversation about mental health in the ultimate community, and the ultimate community had a lot to say. Here are some of those views.


The tweet that got the conversation going, from @being_ulti.


“I have bipolar disorder. As a league-level player, getting out and playing is a great outlet for me to try and reset, or at least minimize what’s going on in my head. As a club and college player I viewed playing in a similar way. As a college and club coach, it is beyond exhausting to plan and carry out a practice or tournament whilst in the mess of one extreme or the other. And as a competitive person, losses or failures can spark a trip to one of those extremes if I’m not careful. It’s a blend of a great outlet and a trigger.”
Charlie Hoppes @charleshoppes


“I’ve found it’s very difficult not to measure your self worth by how you perform as player/leader."
Jonathan Neeley @neeleyjd


“A challenging piece I’d experienced pile on to mental health (teammates & self) is wrongly equating talent as a player with value as a human.”
Jesse Shofner @jesseshofner


“I found the biggest struggle was trying to power thru my mental state to try and play. I became my biggest opponent."
Destined @7SyZyG7

“...As for how ultimate has helped me deal with things, that's a bigger can of worms that I've always gone back and forth on. Sometimes it's the place where I'm more in the moment than anywhere else in life, and sometimes it's a real drain, where generating energy and not feeling judged (largely by myself, at the end of the day) is very hard.

The biggest thing is that I would encourage anyone who is feeling depressed, or even just kind of down for a prolonged period, to talk to a professional. Players go to doctors and PTs all the time for hamstring pulls and ankle sprains and back pain and all the other good stuff, and I don't think we do enough to tell people that if you're hurting emotionally, there are people who can and will help with that, too. You wouldn't expect yourself to fix your own torn ACL, and in the same way you don't need to put the pressure completely on yourself to emerge from a difficult mental space. I think the more we normalize talking to therapists and doctors about what's on your mind, the better.”

- Jonathan Neeley


“Depression and anxiety - teammates are the ones that help me get through my hardest moments/are understanding when I may need space for a sec. Even when the hardest moments last for weeks they’re there to reassure me and throw me the ladder when I can climb back.”
Molly McKeon @mollymck21


“Exercise with teammates helped me through very difficult times. The weights are still heavy, but lifting them alone isn’t therapeutic enough."
Stephen Hubbard @StephenGHubbard


    I've only recently been able to open up about this side of ultimate, and it's due in part to the recent conversations in the community. Especially as a captain of a team, you're expected to have it together and be 'on' at all times, making it hard to acknowledge or ask for help. I didn't, and it really took it's toll, leading me to completely walk away from a team this year. I don't want that to happen to others- everyone, leadership especially, should be able to be open about mental health.”

    - Ryan Anderson

    “I have been dealing with severe depression and anxiety (and possibly bipolar) since I was a kid. Only learned about it around 25 and only learned how to really manage it around 30 (I’m 32 now). Ultimate has always been to one thing to bring me out of problems. Playing is one way, more so the broad support of teammates and community. Spent 2 nights in ER due to suicidal thoughts in 2014. I had moved away and limited my ultimate involvement (for me, at least). When I hit rock bottom in many ways I moved back and got more involved. It took a while to really be able to manage it but it is my involvement in ultimate that has allowed me to be my strongest and be able to impact others the most. I am most confident and capable due to ultimate. I share my experiences, thoughts and feelings as much as possible to let others know someone else has felt similarly. Teammates have said that has helped them seek help. Toughest realization but also the one that made it possible for me to really work through this is that I cannot remove or stop the Impostor Syndrome, paranoia, or thoughts that everyone hates me and I should to, but knowing that’s not actually who I am allows me to ignore it, fight it, and use it as a way to become a better person. Since ultimate - the game and the community - provided me with the support to be my best self I am driven to provide that opportunity for as many people as possible.”
    Ben Banyas @benbanyas


    “This is a conversation that I believe we should take back to our teams and make sure we keep creating a safe space among our teammates <3”

  • Being Ulti @being_ulti

    “I've been open with individuals on Patrol about my mental health, and I plan at some point this season to make mental health an open conversation with the team. In my time with the D-III Messiah Falcons, I've addressed my battle with bipolar with the team each of the last two seasons, as well as on that same one-on-one level. Both approaches have led to greater understanding, trust, and conversation between me and the members of the team, and between different members of the team with each other. Because I've been open with what I deal with, I've had the privilege of talking with some of my players about the things that they struggle with, or about things someone they love deals with. Whether I've been able to provide advice or if I am needed to listen and empathize, it never hurts to turn to others for support or to seek to support those folks.”
    - Charlie Hoppes


    A tweet from @benbanyas.


    Things are already happening. By getting a conversation going, the ultimate community has already started lessening the stigma surrounding mental illness. Since it already has a reputation of acceptance and individuality, ultimate is uniquely placed to open up a conversation as well as making it clear that everyone is welcome, and creating a safe space for anybody who wants to share, not share, or just feel supported with or without any mental issues they might struggle with. Nothing is more dangerous to someone dealing with a mental disorder than silence or ignorance on the part of the community, and talking about it, spreading information and demonstrating acceptance is incredibly valuable for people affected by mental issues and those who support them - their teams, their friends, and the ultimate community as a whole.

    So spread the word and join the conversation.




    ARIA Ultimate is a proud supporter of the ultimate community and everyone in it. We want to help continue the conversation surrounding mental health and ultimate, and would love to hear from you!  

    One of ARIA’s tenets is giving back to the ultimate community by donating discs through a 1-for-1 model to organizations giving back to the ultimate community athletically and socially. Conversations like this one around mental health mean a great deal to us, and we want to support them however possible. If you know of any ultimate organizations working with the issue, we’d love to get in touch! Contact us at, or fill out our social partner application here.


    As Ultimate players, we know the value of community and interpersonal connections through ultimate. Let’s keep the conversation going and remember we are NEVER alone. Help us spread community values and support to those in need by contributing to our 1-for-1 program in our online store.