Not only are Kenny's experiences amazing and insightful, they are without question informative and valuable. "Professionalism" is an intuitive concept, but in reality it is a very complex process that fundamentally never stops evolving. Hold on to your hats...here comes my Q&A with expert therapist and trainer, Kenny Spracklin.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself, your professional career and how you came to where you are now.
I come from a very active and competitive sport background. I have been playing and involved with sport since I was a toddler following my dad around the arenas. I studied at Concordia University in the AT program and had great instructors that inspired me to challenge the profession and myself to help define what therapy and training really are. I was encouraged early on in my studies to look outside the box from time to time and question everything. I have never looked back since. I remain friends with some of these instructors that have influenced me and allowed me this freedom to learn and push the envelope to this day. Today, I am happy to say that I am among some of the top in the field at what I do and have recently helped Team Canada win some Olympic medals in different disciplines at the Games in Sochi, Russia. It’s very rewarding to see an athlete you’ve been helping for years achieve what they have set out for as a life-long goal.
2. What (or who) have been your greatest motivators / inspiration (if any) with respect to your career path?
I have quite a few influences in my life. I’ve always been pretty internally motivated, so I haven’t really needed anyone for this matter, but I have been inspired by many people. These inspirations range from my dad being a single parent who raised myself and my younger brother at such a young age himself, to teachers that I’ve had, to actual athletes I’ve worked with and their relatives. (For example; a good friend of mine and athlete I feel privileged to help has inspired me through his story countless times…I still get goose-bumps when I watch him and his brother together)
My grandmother was probably the most influential person in my life though. She was a key part to my road to success so far in life. She would tell me this on a regular basis “Don’t put off ‘til tomorrow what you can do today”…this has stuck with me my entire life and I can still visualize her saying it to me when I stray away from my tasks. She believed that we were all here to help as many people as we could…and that’s essentially what I’m trying to do with my life.
3. How do you put these experiences / motivations / inspirations into practice at work?
Putting one’s self in a position where you can literally take on any opportunity that comes your way is a skill that I’ve developed over the years and continue to work on. Nothing beats hard work and determination!!! Putting yourself in the right place at the right time, is not as easy as it sounds. You need to be willing to work harder than everyone else is willing to work. I pride myself in having an extremely devoted work ethic. I was lucky to have been brought up without much and we struggled with our means growing up; but I am truly appreciative everyday for having gone through this because it allowed me to know just how much I can endure to get what I want in life. The true secret to life…Hard Work!!!
4. You interact with quite a lot of people from different walks of life, sports, disciplines…what are the commonalities between them and what makes them each unique?
I am very fortunate to interact with people from all over the world form very different backgrounds, and although there are vast differences among them culturally… there’s one thing I have noticed as recurring content…curiosity! For example, when I went to Nepal and India, the first questions that I would get were about where I was from and asking how cold Canada was and if I lived in an igloo, lol. We are all so curious about what happens in other cultures, lifestyles, etc…that regardless of where we live and what we do, we always wonder what it is like to “be” someone else in another place…even if it’s just for a moment. I love interacting with people from anywhere; I was blessed, or cursed depending on how you look at it, with the gift of gab that stems from my grandfather, haha. I can go up to any random person and start having full conversations and begin a friendship just like that. I am a very curious person myself and I want to experience as much as possible. I love sharing stories with people who’ve lived the unique experiences! I feel this is a very similar commonality throughout the world.
5. In the field of physical rehabilitation, the issue of professional ethics is quite well understood but paradoxically overlooked in a lot of cases. What is your personal / professional perspective on ethics and the workplace?
This is a tough question to answer in a sense that with the social media access these days, privacy is somewhat limited as well. Things get blown out of context, words get skewed, and people’s lives can get invaded which affects their careers. Ethics in the workplace should be a very tight held confidentiality spectrum…yet we see it from time to time where a player’s MRI report comes out or concussion report…etc. All these things have the media on a field day which could very well affect the athlete or patient and his/her well-being.
There are also clinics that I have worked in or visited that the ethics practiced by it’s members or clients has been very professional without any boundary overlooked. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. I personally shy away from the negative surroundings, simply because the nothing good can ultimately come from it.
6. Your recent trip to Sochi for the winter Olympics gave you a unique look into one of the most intense sporting events on the globe. What was the biggest surprise and what was the biggest disappointment (if any).
The Sochi Olympic games was an amazing career and personal highlight for me! Being an athlete turned therapist/performance specialist, I had to holster my excitement until my athletes were done competing, hahaha. The atmosphere at the games were unreal. The biggest (not necessarily surprise) highlight was watching the athletes I work with cross the finish line as winners and then accepting their medals!!! Pure uncontrolled joy in these moments!!! All the sacrifice over the years spent in the gym, on the treatment table, in the planes, on the courses, hotels rooms, awful food….all worth it!!! Getting to hug an athlete you’ve been working with for years at the bottom of the course when they’ve won a medal…the feeling was out of this world!!!
I didn’t really have any disappointments to be honest. Russia did an extremely great job at hosting the event in my opinion. The hospitality was great and accommodations were all fine. The weather conditions were subject to many arguments, but were not in anyone’s control.
7. Some of your accomplishments are quite impressive. Cycling across Canada, climbing Mount Everest, going to the Winter Olympics to name a few. How would you rank the top 3 experiences in your life and what was the most challenging about each of them?
I live life to the fullest and try to experience everything, so I have hundreds of challenges and adventures that I have done that all mean something different to me. This is an extremely tough question to rank my top three, but here it goes, haha.
3. Australian adventure.
- My trip to Oz was amazing. I am a certified skydiver and deep water wreck diver, so I traveled along the eastern coast line to explore everything from sunken ship wrecks to the marine life along the Great Barrier Reef. When I wasn’t jumping out of planes or scuba diving, I was waiting for the perfect wave on my surf board. I went out there to work for a few weeks with some athletes and simply extended my stay a couple months. Many other mini adventures like learning to sail a catamaran in the Whitsundays and shark diving without a cage were some of my other amazing challenges I did out there that taught me more about my internal patience.
2. Climbing Mt. Everest
- Besides the major culture adjustment, the challenges I faced on Everest are way too complicated to explain in just a few sentences. The expedition will always be significant to me in many ways. The journey will be something that I remember and cherish forever…even the “near death” close calls.1. Being A Traveling Professional
- As a professional that travels with athletes all over the world, I get to see things form different perspectives. I feel blessed to be able to do what I love to do at the highest level and see the world at the same time. There are lots of challenges when it comes to traveling with athletes and treating/training on the road, but being able to expose myself to countless new environments and methods of adapting to my surroundings makes me a much better professional. I am never really in a comfort zone and because if this I always have to stay on edge and at the top of my game to help all my athletes perform at their very best. I have literally tapped two ski bags together to use as weights when I didn’t have a gym to bring the athletes to…there are no rules, only concepts.
- Cycling Across Canada was my first big trip and set the bench mark for all my other adventures and guidelines to where I know how much to push myself.
- Surf trips in different locations around the world.
- Olympics in Sochi/Watching my professional athletes play live.
8. As an active professional working at the highest levels of physical competence, what would you say to those who are seeking similar career / life experiences.
If you’re doing this for the money…pick another career, hahaha.
If you think that you can simply take some courses and finish your degree and get right into working with the pros…think again, lol… If you aren’t ready for the real grind of getting your “hands dirty” and years of sleepless nights without money coming in and low budget facilities and/or equipment to work with…it may not be for you. However, if you are willing to put in all the work and are truly genuine about what you are doing…there really is no limit to where you can go. Enjoy the ride!
Kenny Spracklin BSc, CATC, CSCS
Head of Athlete Development
As promised, a very insightful gathering of experience and information. Be sure to connect with Kenny and keep up with ever evolving exploits and to plug into his vast hardrive of knowledge!