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UML Alum Conquers Obstacles in Life After Hockey

Barry Goers ’10 Competes on ‘American Ninja Warrior,’ Turns Focus to Business

Barry Goers crosses steps during the American Ninja Warrior competition Photo by American Ninja Warrior
With his family cheering him on via Zoom in the background, alum Barry Goers '10 crosses an obstacle during his recent run on the NBC TV show "American Ninja Warrior."

11/16/2020
By Ed Brennen

Dangling by his arms from a red corkscrew high above the water, former UMass Lowell hockey player Barry Goers ’10 contemplated his next move.

Goers could laché — the term for swinging from one bar to another — laterally by as much as 10 feet. But the next corkscrew he needed to reach on the “American Ninja Warrior” obstacle course was not only 5 feet away, but also about 3 feet up.

That’s high up there. I’ve never even tried going up before,” Goers thought to himself as he began swinging his body to gain momentum for the laché. 

With the NBC TV show’s announcers and camera crew looking on from below — and nearly 3 million viewers eventually watching at home this fall — Goers flung himself through the air and grasped the second red corkscrew, which began to furiously spin. The torque sent Goers, like so many of the show’s 150 competitors this season, plummeting into the pool below. 

And just like that, on the eighth of 10 obstacles in the semifinal round, Goers’ “American Ninja Warrior” run was over. But he has no regrets.

“It’s something I always wanted to do, and I had a great time,” says Goers, a native of Ivyland, Pennsylvania, who earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from the Manning School of Business. “As an athlete you think, ‘I can do that.’ But it’s way harder than it looks.”

Barry Goers playing for the UML hockey teamPhoto by UMass Lowell Athletics
Barry Goers had 5 goals and 37 assists in his four seasons as a defenseman for the UML hockey team.

Goers, who now lives in the Denver area with his wife, Emily, and their young sons, Ryker and Orion, applied for the show last spring after winning the amateur division of the Colorado Ninja League.

“There’s a big base of ninjas here in Colorado,” says Goers, who got into the sport when he met and began training with former “American Ninja Warrior” contestants Bart Copeland and Jake Murray.

Competing on the show, which because of COVID-19 restrictions was filmed in an empty arena in St. Louis over the summer, helped Goers overcome some difficult obstacles in his own life. After playing nine seasons of minor league hockey, the speedy 5-foot-9, 175-pound defenseman was forced to retire in 2018 because of post-concussion syndrome.

“I was in a dark place for about two years,” says Goers, who suffered from panic attacks, anxiety and insomnia. The symptoms were compounded by the fact that he never realized his dream of playing in the NHL.

“I always truly believed I’d play a game in the NHL. I came really close,” says Goers, who twice went to training camp with the Pittsburgh Penguins. “It was tough having my career end without that closure.”

After dedicating their lives to a sport, professional athletes can find it difficult to transition to new careers once their playing days are over — often while still in their 20s or 30s. Goers was 32 when he hung up his skates.
Barry Goers enters the arena in his minor league hockey uniformPhoto by American Ninja Warrior
Barry Goers enters the "American Ninja Warrior" arena in his Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins uniform, the American Hockey League team that he played for from 2013 to 2017.

“You’re a rookie all over again, and you feel behind,” says Goers, who wisely got a head start on his post-playing days by starting a youth hockey stick business in 2015. As a Fulfillment by Amazon business, he could finance and manage the product while Amazon handled the shipping and payment processing.

“It let me at least explore entrepreneurship while still playing, and it helped me make that transition after hockey,” says Goers, who hit six-figures in sales in his first year and ran the business until 2018.

“I’ve always been really passionate about entrepreneurship and investing, and my education at UMass Lowell really helped open my eyes to that world,” says Goers, who had a summer internship with Morgan Stanley Wealth Management before his senior year at UML.

Goers has more recently become interested in blockchain technology and cryptocurrency, and earlier this year he became a principal with a Colorado-based crypto group called Merkle Mountain. He has also bought and sold several small businesses in the past few years and hopes to continue to grow as an entrepreneur. 

Goers, who would sometimes train during the summer at the Tsongas Center, still keeps in touch with many of his former River Hawk teammates. 

“We have a group chat. We all go to each other’s weddings, and a lot of us are now having kids, so it’s been really fun,” says Goers, who looks forward to bringing his family to a UML hockey game someday.

“I’m really proud to be an alum of UMass Lowell and to see all that they’ve accomplished,” he says.

While he didn’t play for Coach Norm Bazin, Goers would receive phone calls from him during his minor league playing days. Bazin also called Goers when he heard he was appearing on “American Ninja Warrior.”

“It really speaks to the bond we were able to build playing hockey at UMass Lowell,” Goers says.

“It takes so much to juggle education as a student-athlete," he adds. "UMass Lowell not only helped me move on to become a professional hockey player, it helped me move on to succeed professionally as an entrepreneur and investor.”