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Broken bodies, broken minds

Trust and hope. Two words with powerful meanings. Words that build the bond between an injured athlete and an athletic sports athletic therapist. When an athlete gets seriously injured, doubt, negativity and anger can fill them up.
Football player Kennedy Voz, right, credits athletic therapist André Paquette for helping bounce back from injury with a sound body and a sound mind. Photo by Scott Haddow.

Trust and hope. 


Two words with powerful meanings. 


Words that build the bond between an injured athlete and an athletic sports athletic therapist.

When an athlete gets seriously injured, doubt, negativity and anger can fill them up. Breaking a bone or tearing a ligament — or worse — can derail or even end a sports career.

It can seem like the world is coming to an end when an athlete blows out a knee or snaps an arm.

In those painful and dark times for an athlete, trust and hope are the last two things he or she has to get them out of the hell they are in and on track to recovery with the right frame of mind.

The bonds created by injured athletes and athletic therapists are some of the strongest anyone will find. It is a bond that, once established, blooms and grows. It is a bond that becomes too strong to break. It is a bond that is counted on.

Football player Kennedy Voz fractured his shoulder blade last summer playing club ball. He had less than two months to get better and to be ready for university training camp at Waterloo.

It was a bleak time for Voz. He had never been seriously injured before. The unknown wreaked havoc on his mind. He wasn’t sure if he was even going to be able to compete.

In his time of need, he turned to athletic therapist, André Paquette, from Total Performance Rehab. Voz put all his faith in Paquette. He had nowhere else to turn.

Paquette knew what he had to do. He convinced Voz he could fix him, maybe even make him better than new. He gave Voz hope. All Paquette needed from Voz was faith.

The results speak for themselves.

“I put all my trust in André,” Voz said. “He had the same goal as me — to get me back on the field as soon as possible. The confidence André had ... gave me the courage to do it. I did what he told me to do and I was back playing in six weeks. 

“I owe my 2012 season at Waterloo to him — I had a good season. It was because I trusted André.”

Paquette, 33, has been plying his certified craft for five years. He loves sports, even though he admits he was injury prone growing up and admits he wasn’t the greatest of athletes.

He loved sports so much, Paquette knew he wanted to be involved somehow, so he dedicated his life to athletic therapy.

It is a complicated profession. It’s a job Paquette does with his heart and soul. He works the sidelines for club and high school sports games. From minor scrapes to gruesome injuries, Paquette has seen his share. Each is different, but all get the same passion and devotion from Paquette.

It’s his job to figure out the problem, know an athlete’s sport and position, and how to treat them accordingly.

Paquette enjoys the unique bond he creates with injured athletes.

“I am a therapist for their body and mind,” Paquette said. “I help them get over their fears and get back to playing the games they love.

“It takes a lot of thought, understanding and preparation. Athletes are motivated to get back. I am motivated to get them back. It creates a bond of friendship that lasts.”

Another gridiron warrior, Eric Donaldson, has seen Paquette over the years for a variety of injuries, from a broken collar bone to a herniated disc.

Donaldson had reservations about going back to football after busting his collar bone, but Paquette fixed his injured body and his injured confidence.

Paquette got Donaldson to wear full gear for treatment. Paquette would hit him with tackles. It got some curious looks from other medical professionals, but it worked.

Donaldson got over his fear, returned to football and resumed being one of the most punishing players in Sudbury.

When Donaldson hurt his back, it was an easy decision to go back to Paquette.

“I’ve dedicated my whole life to sports,” Donaldson said. “A back injury could take you out of sports forever. I knew I could trust André. 

“He got me over being nervous to be hit and gave me the right mindset. It’s a great feeling. He put me back in the game ... I earned a scholarship and I’m going to Concordia University.”

Athletes on the road to recovery or finishing up the journey often say they owe a lot to their athletic therapist. They don’t mince words. There is no denying the genuine appreciation athletes such as Voz and Donaldson have for what Paquette did for them. His work changed their lives.

It’s all in a day’s work for Paquette. “It’s an amazing feeling developing those bonds with athletes,” he said. “My success is their success. I like making a difference in a person’s life and their recovery. It’s what I am here to do.”

Scott Haddow has been writing about sports in Greater Sudbury for the past 10 years.