A hockey goalie for Florida Gulf Coast University is juggling his time on the rink with graduate school for a doctorate in nurse anesthesia.
Matthew Vivian, 34, has been lacing up his skates, putting on his pads and hitting the ice to take his place in the net almost since he learned to walk. It’s a place Vivian has come to love.
“When you’re younger there’s not really a goalie on the team, and the first time I put the pads on I got a shutout,” Vivian said. “And since then I’ve been hooked.”
Vivian is now the goalie for the FGCU D3 hockey team, the last line of defense. He relishes the high-pressure position.
“You’re the zero or the hero every night,” Vivian said. “I find a lot of similarities [between] that and my career.”
In Vivian’s burgeoning career as a nurse anesthesiologist career, the pressure goes beyond winning a game to keeping people safe and healthy in the operating room.
“Being a goalie, you always have to be on your toes; you always have to be ready for that shot, for that pass,” Vivian said. “You have to read situations just like in the OR. In the OR, you’re reading vital signs. You’re reading the patient, you’re trying to figure out… you’re trying to anticipate what’s going to happen next.”
Before Vivian started his doctorate program at FGCU, he was called to help during the COVID-19 pandemic as a traveling ICU nurse.
“I was in California, I was in Arizona, I was in Texas working five 12-hour shifts a week,” Vivian said.
Hockey has been and always will be an outlet for Vivian. He came to FGCU for a degree, and that’s his focus, but he’s staying ready to return to the net.
“Start my career with that and see if the Panthers or Lightning need an emergency backup goalie,” Vivian said. “Got to keep the dream alive.”
Vivian’s school-first mentality caused him to miss the Eagles’ appearance in nationals last year. Instead, he was doing clinicals for his nurse anesthesia program. Vivian will graduate from that doctorate program in May 2025.