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Q&A with Matt Hamilton

Matt Hamilton
USA Today Sports

Q&A with Matt Hamilton

Curler Matt Hamilton on his lucky charm, his dog named Moose and how he uses Spikeball in training

How influential were your parents in your athletic career and in what ways?

They always encouraged me to follow my dreams and supported me through thick and thin in my curling career financially and emotionally. My mom never passes up a chance to talk about me and my sister and explain curling and our successes.

Do you have another full-time job or business? How do you balance work and training?

I work as a research and development technician at Spectrum Brands in Middleton WI. they are very lenient with my schedule allowing me to travel for events and training. its hands on work with lots of variety so it’s interesting and keeps me on my toes and sharp.

Do you have any pets?

I have a beautiful 1 year old purebred golden retriever names Moose, which it short for Moosetache. he is a great for helping in my training. He needs exercise whether I want to or not so it’s a motivator.

In your hometown, what are your favorite spots to relax, eat out, etc.?

Madison is built on an isthmus between two lakes so anything on the water is fun. I worked at a restaurant called Tornado Steakhouse and it has phenomenal food. Madison is only about an hour drive from America’s water park capital [Wisconsin Dells] so that is always a fun destination. State Street right downtown by the capital building is really fun too with all the shops and restaurants.

What’s your typical training day/schedule?

Work out during a lunch break at work, and during the winter months with ice I will go to the curling club and either play league or throw stones.

How do you work to achieve your daily goals?

Gotta keep your eyes on the prize. That’s not only competing in the Olympics, but also performing well and winning a medal.

What is your favorite workout or fitness trend?

Battle ropes. They are super hard but also fun.

What’s the most grueling work out you’ve ever done?

Every time our program goes to the Olympic Training Center our fitness trainer puts together a week of grueling activities.

What would people be surprised to learn about training for the Olympics?

That whenever you are not training, there is probably someone out there training hard to beat you and that it’s never ending.

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Is there anything you do for training that’s out of the ordinary or experimental?

I like cross training in the summer by playing different sports. The traditional gym and jogging aren’t my favorite way to get and stay in shape. I like playing golf, tennis, Frisbee, Spikeball and other games that can help me stay limber and strong

What does a typical day of eating look like during training?

I am currently doing the Isagenix nutrition program. Lots of protein and water. Veggies for my complex carbs and maybe some simple carbs or a small amount of sugars.

If you are to indulge, what's your go-to snack?

Pizza and ice cream. The child comes out when I want to cheat my diet.

What is your earliest memory of doing or seeing curling?

I started playing when I was 14. I remember one instance where we didn’t play well and the other team was making more shots but somehow we had won the game. I talked with my skip (captain) after the game and mentioned how I thought we were getting outplayed, and he told me that we may have gotten outplayed but we out-strategized them. I was hooked on the idea that the game was such a balance of brains, brawn and finesse.

What's your earliest or favorite memory of watching the Olympics?

Probably watching Pete Fenson and team at the 2006 Torino Olympics. I didn’t really imagine myself there as much as I imagined what I would do if I were in that position.

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Was there a specific “breakthough” moment/competition when you finally realized you could compete in your sport at a high enough level to reach the Olympics?

In my third year curling I was asked to play vice on a men’s team when I was only 17. We later made the USA nationals that year and that’s when I knew I could hang with the "big dogs" in the USA. Later when me and my junior team won the junior world championships I knew that I was a real international contender.

What's something cool, weird intense about your sport that people don't normally see? What’s the hardest part of your sport?

The communication that goes into making shots is crazy. So many things happening and different ways to get the desired outcome. It’s intense but it feels great when you do exactly what you planned.

Are there any misconceptions about your sport that you would like to clear up?

It’s not just a beer drinkers sport and it does require strength and conditioning to compete at a high level in this game. Though the casual play may not require these things as much, for high-level players it is a difference maker.

Who is your coach? How long have you been working together and what’s your relationship like?

Phill Drobnick. We first started working together in 2007 when I joined the junior team he was currently coaching. I spent two years with him on this team. We later joined forces again in 2016 when my team won the U.S. national championship.

Have you ever worked with a sports psychologist? If so, how did it help you?

Yes! We have an amazing sports psych that has helped me calm myself before I shoot and also helped me develop a routine that has made me more consistent.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

You have to be gracious in victory and defeat to be liked and respected by your peers.

What advice would you give to a young child just starting out in curling?

This is an amazing sport that can take you a lot of places if you put the work in. It’s 33% brains, 33% brawn, 33% skill, and 100% love of the game. If you truly enjoy what you are doing and work hard to be better, the sky is the limit.

Who is your biggest rival? Is it friendly or contentious?

Chris Plys. It is very friendly but we like to poke fun so it is always competitive.

Do you play any other sports?

All sorts of sports. I am pretty good at most sports but only turned out to be great at curling. Golf, soccer, volleyball, disc golf, ultimate, tennis, basketball, Spikeball, softball, etc.

Who was the most influential in helping you achieve your dreams?

My parents have been there 100% for me with anything I needed. They financially backed me in my early stages and have been a constant beacon of support for me throughout my career.

If you have already won an Olympic medal, where do you keep it?

I’ve won worlds medals before and my parents get all my trophies. If you ask them why, they would tell you, "We paid for those trophies" as in they financially supported me growing up so I owe them hahaha.

What are your pre-competition rituals?

Music! Listen to some jams to get your head in the right place

Do you have a lucky charm?

I like to have a lime green hat in my back pocket. Mostly because it pisses the USA curling director off and I find that kinda funny. So I guess it is lucky.

Do you have a nickname?

I have lots of nicknames. Really anything with "ham" because of my last name.

Do you have any hidden talents?

I am a very good cook and I am pretty good at roasting coffee.

Do you have any tattoos?

I have a curling rock tattooed on my right shoulder with the letters WJCC and Ostersund, Sweden.

It stands for “world junior curling championships” and the location where we won.

Do you collect anything?

My opponents’ jerseys. I love trading and collecting jerseys from friends in the game.

What charities do you support? How did you become involved?

Project Joy. My friend’s father started this charity before he passed away. It supplies food for less fortunate kids so they can be fed over the weekend when not getting food from the school on the weekdays.

If you were not an athlete, what would you be doing?

Working a boring 9-5, I would imagine. I’m really glad this is my life currently.

When you have time off, what would constitute a perfect day for you?

Get up early and go golfing. Meet some friend out on the boat. Come home and grill with friends and hang out.

Do you have any fears?

I fear tearing my knee up somehow. Career-ending injuries scare me the most because they are very real.

Do you like to travel?  What has been the most special place you have traveled to and why?

Love traveling. I would say Sweden. We won there so it’s special emotionally and it’s a beautiful place.

What's something quirky about yourself that people would be amused to learn?

When I was a child growing up I loved to compete. So much so that when my friends couldn’t come out to play sports I would make up an imaginary friend and play against him. This went on for years and just about every sport.

What's your personal motto?

Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.

What are some of your hobbies?

Roasting coffee. It’s alone time and it’s kinda mesmerizing. Kind of an escape.

What are five go-to songs that motivate you during training?

Backseat Freestyle - Kendrick Lamar
10 Deathbreast - Bon Iver
Friends - Francis and the Lights
Gooey - Glass Animals
Calm Before the Storm - Fall Out Boy

What are your personal care indulgences? What are your top five beauty/grooming products?

I love my mustache, but I don’t do anything special to it.

Outside of training for your sport, what physical routine makes you feel your best?

I love playing Spikeball. It’s a great warm up and it’s fun to play.

Have you been to South Korea before? What are you most looking forward to about the Games being hosted in South Korea? Anything you want to see or do?

The food and the cultural differences are what I am looking forward to most. I really would like to see the region and maybe get some free time to hike and explore.

Do you like kimchi or any other Korean foods?

I really like kimchi. Also I make my own kombucha. I enjoy bulgogi and bibimbap.

Have you ever done karaoke? What’s your go-to karaoke song?

I am an awful singer so no. If I had to choose it would be something I would have no chance at singing well, like "Beat It" by Michael Jackson or "Don’t Stop Me Now" by Queen.

What will success look like for you in PyeongChang? What are your goals?

Obviously competing at the highest level is a great success for me. I would like to return with some hardware to make it feel like I was really successful.

Will you head home for the holidays prior to the Games? What do you most look forward to? If not, where will you celebrate and with whom?

I will be spending the holiday with my family. I look forward to relaxing and enjoying good food that goes along with the holiday.

What’s on your Christmas or holiday list this year?

All I want is a ticket to South Korea with Team USA.

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