Athletic therapist and alumnus pushes pros to perform at their peak
Faced with the mystery of dark, unknown waters, he recalls the experience of diving in. “If you closed your eyes, you could hear the cracking of icebergs shifting and moving. You’re completely at nature’s mercy — these icebergs are monsters. You can’t swim under them, you can’t control anything.” He says the encounter was both powerful and eerie. “You have to let go — which is really cool.”
Speaking from his Montreal facility Spracklin Performance, the 34-year-old’s warm, open friendliness seems to balance his appetite for adrenaline and commitment to achieving what feels impossible — for himself and his athletes,” he says.
Originally from Frelighsburg, Que., Spracklin, has played sports all his life. He was a curious kid who wanted to touch and taste everything. Today he continues to seek new knowledge, sensations and experiences — like free diving in the Arctic, diving with orcas in Norway, diving with whales and sharks, holding his breath, climbing on Mount Everest, skydiving, competing in a 404-kilometre charity bicycle race in Mont Tremblant in 2018 and cycling across Canada 12 years ago.
Spracklin’s clients include NHL, NFL, UFC, CFL and Olympic athletes. He accompanied Team Canada to the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. He’s helped Concordia Stingers’ Maurice Simba, selected in the 2019 CFL draft.
Spracklin credits Concordia with the solid foundation from which he’s branched out and continues to learn. He is certified by the National Strength and Conditioning Association. “I blend both those disciplines through treatments, manual therapy, athletic therapy, and performance and strength conditioning.”
Every program he offers is different because every athlete is so different. Spracklin has taken pro hockey players on retreat, sometimes incorporating elements of yoga, for example.
“Mental toughness is probably the biggest thing I use when I’m working with an athlete, even more important than drills,” he says. “It’s great I can get their body to fire a certain way, but if their brain is not where it’s supposed to be, they won’t be able to perform.”
When he’s working with an Olympic athlete who’s putting everything — all his or her time, money and resources — into a four-year plan, he can relate. “I’ve gone through struggles and literally been at the borderline of death many times to get where I have.”
“When an athlete comes to me and says, ‘I want to win a gold medal or make it to the NHL,’ I might say, ‘Why do you really want this? What are you willing to do? Are you willing to sacrifice? Are you sincere? Are you serious?’” he says. If they’re not, he can sense it right away.
Non-athletes can also take inspiration from Spracklin’s passion for growing past one’s comfort zone. He speaks at schools in Quebec, Ontario and Vermont about fitness, health, sports and challenging oneself. “I don’t expect kids to go shark diving. But for them, running two kilometres might be a challenge, so how do we prepare for that?”
“I really like helping people. It’s great I can tap into sports, health and fitness, but to push someone to go beyond what they — or anybody else — thought they could do, for me, that’s very satisfying.”