For third year Brock University student Mackenzie ‘Mack’ Sabourin it is his job to make sure that his Badgers are right. Paul Hendren explains.
Images Paul Hendren and Brock University Athletics.
Donald Mims, a member of the Brock Badgers Varsity basketball team is stretched out while tucked in the corner of the University of Toronto’s Goldring Centre. Although attempting to be inconspicuous in the shadows of a bleacher Mims was anything but invisible. His seven foot one inch frame tried to fit onto the trainer’s table designed for an athlete much shorter in stature. For Mims, his long and thin ankles, that holds his wiry frame, needs a great deal of support as the altitude where he plays is not for the faint of heart. For Mackenzie ‘Mack’ Sabourin, the most senior of three Student Athletic Trainers (SAT) assigned to the Men’s team, it is his challenge to ensure that Mims and the other players are battle ready. Prior to warm ups the name “Mack” is barked around in common song among players looking for help in their respective preventative pre game rituals. Ankle taping is just one of many duties assigned to Sabourin and his colleagues.
“Our SAT’s carry a wide variety of responsibilities when we are working with the team,” explained Sabourin who calls the Niagara Region home. “Our job is the easiest during the actual game when we supply water and Gatorade to the players, as well as first responders in the case that a player goes down with an injury.” But Sabourin added that: “The majority of our work is done before and after games when players require various types of treatments including ankle taping, stretching and massaging while after games ice is provided with more stretching.” He reported that this ritual is not only dedicated for game days but are repeated before and after each practice.
Veteran Guard Pat Pilato sang the praises of Student Athletic Trainers like Sabourin. “Mack is with us every day when we go to war in games as well as practices. No matter what your needs are (there is always something), a nagging injury, a rolled ankle, or you’re bleeding profusely, Mack is always there to offer his abilities as a therapist, “ offered Pilato who has returned to home town of St Catharines after starting his University basketball career at the University of Victoria . “Since we practice so hard and have multiple games back to back, there is no doubt that Mack is crucial to our team’s success,” added Pilato. .
Sabourin is being trained well. Brock’s Head Athletic Therapist Joe Kenny is close at hand to give out advice and direction to all members of the SAT team. Kenny believes that Sabourin’s time with the basketball team and that the time that Mack has dedicated in the University’s Athletic Therapy Clinic has helped him with assessment and treatment techniques, namely for soft tissue release , deep tissue massage and PNF stretching. “Mack also brings many intangible benefits to the team,” explained Kenny who was recently inducted into the Canadian Athletic Therapists Association Hall of Fame. “He provides the social support required when a player is injured and he goes the extra distance to assist them with everything from their equipment needs to their nutrition and hydration,” he added. Kenny is a firm believer that Student Athletic trainers are an invaluable resource to Athletic Departments. “With 800 athletes competing in various clubs and varsity sports the 50 Student Athletic Trainers play an important role in risk management by ensuring any serious injured athlete is immediately referred for proper medical care,” explained Kenny. “He is s firm believer that with the avalanche of head injuries and concussions today Student Athletic Trainers play a critical role in providing immediate follow up and direction to the student, including liaising with the full time therapists and referral to a doctor the same day. Kenny proclaimed that Brock’s Student Trainers have helped save the lives of three athletes and one official between 2005-2009.
The U-Sports basketball season is a demanding time for not only all of the participating student athletes but also for the Student Athletic Trainers who are embedded with the team travelling to all away games. This forced bonding is something that Sabourin enjoys, “Travelling on long trips over the past three years has allowed me to build some great relationships with the guys on the team,” he explained advising that Brock Head Coach Charles Kissi and his Associates Coaches have built a culture of respect among everyone associated with the team. “I believe that Coach Kissi has all our best interests in mind, and therefore he is willing to devote time and effort into furthering our careers as well, outside of just basketball.” Pilato believes that Sabourin’s positive personality has been a welcome addition to the team’s “we first” approach to this season. “We are lucky to have Mack, not only because he is good at what he does, but because of the type of guy he is. He is part of our family. Mack shows up to practice every day with a smile on his face and always does more than he is asked. As important as he is to the physical health of our team, he also has a positive impact on our team atmosphere, “was Pilato’s assessment.
Coach Kissi reported that the success of the basketball team and their subsequent top ten ranking this season is partly attributed to the professionalism of the entire staff including the SATs. “We make a very strong point and effort to incorporate them in every way shape or form possible, whether it’s helping a practice on the court or having them lead recovery sessions, “ Kissi announced. “They’re an integral part of our success and that’s a testament to the work that is being done here at Brock University not only academically but experientially,” he added.
While the basketball team demands much of Sabourin’s attention during the winter months he is also involved as an Athletic Trainer with the Niagara Spears football organization during football season.. His penchant with working with younger athletes has been a challenge as he sees the young boys not accustomed to going through injury and recovery processes like the student athletes are mandated to follow at Brock. “Working with athletes with concussions and being able to educate the athletes about concussions is very important with football players, “he announced.
Sabourin will be applying for Masters of Physiotherapy programs during the next school year where he hopes to become a registered Physiotherapist. “I would love to one day come full circle and work for a professional or collegiate basketball team as their head Physiotherapist,” he announced of his ideal plans for the future. The guy who is fondly called “Mack” by players and coaches has no regrets that he is choosing the right career path.