Pan Am athletes rely on a network of staff to prepare them for competition

While Toronto is getting ready to host the seventeenth Pan American Games this July, many athletes are in the final, pre-competition, stage of their training and are gearing up to represent Canada at the games. The hard work and dedication these athletes and teams have put-forth in training for their sports is so frequently reported on, and commended, that we often forget to acknowledge that, for every team and athlete that we see, there are several staff, therapists, and trainers that we don’t.

One such individual is Marcel Charland, who will be representing U of T in the Pan Am games as the athletic therapist for Canada’s women’s basketball team. A certified sport massage therapist, and athletic therapist, working in U of T’s David L. Macintosh Sports Medicine Clinic since 2006, Marcel’s daily duties include rehabilitating all the various sports-related injuries of U of T students and varsity athletes. He is also the women’s varsity hockey team staff therapist.

Marcel Charland/THE VARSITY

Marcel Charland/THE VARSITY

Marcel’s connection to U of T began when he started working at the university as a part of his athletic training several years ago. When an opportunity to work in the Macintosh clinic arose in 2006, Marcel was hired.

Marcel attests that the accreditation that accompanied working for an institution such as U of T helped to open doors to other elite sports medicine opportunities. “Working at U of T was the main reason I started with Canada basketball,” he explained “the head person from basketball operations came into the clinic with an injured player… I spoke to her and told her I was interested in working with the team… It just happened that they were looking for someone to help out with their Senior Women’s team.”

Marcel’s schedule during the Pan Am games will be jam-packed. A typical game-day starts around 8:00 am and would see Marcel accompanying the team to practice and leading a post-practice recovery session, ending around noon. After the practice session, the team will have a pre-game meal while Marcel attends to the pre-game treatment of athletes, which includes taping and bandaging various appendages before the women step onto the court. After the game Marcel is responsible for helping players with their post-game recovery — icing, massaging, and more taping.

There is little question that Marcel’s dedication and attentiveness was a contributing factor to Canada’s fifth place finish in the International Basketball Federation World Championships in 2014 — marking the first time Canada’s women’s team had made it past the quarter-finals of the competition since 1994. The Pan Am games will be the team’s last chance to prove themselves before heading to Edmonton in August to compete in the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics qualifications.

Marcel — who believes that because the Pan Am games are held in Toronto — the competition will be a good final rehearsal for the team, as they will play with a home-court advantage, which is a rare occasion. “ …The team is excited to play in Toronto because it is such a great city… having ‘home court advantage’ will be a pretty great experience. We don’t get to play a lot of international tournaments on home soil so that will be exciting… this will be a great experience for our players,” he detailed “having our hometown fans cheering us on will give us an even better chance of winning the gold medal at Pan Ams.”

Correction: An earlier version of this article referred incorrectly to Marcel Charland.

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