Toronto Raptors Enjoy Stay At Fortius Facility
Talking Toronto Raptors coach Dwane Casey into having his NBA team conduct a portion of their pre-season training camp at Burnaby’s Fortius Sport and Health Centre was a bucket-list dream for Alex McKechnie, the team’s director of Sport Science.
McKechnie had personal reasons, too. He maintains a home in Burnaby, worked professionally in the city for close to 30 years and most important he was a Fortius co-founder.
Coach Casey, who resides in Seattle, wanted to look for himself before making a commitment, so he travelled from his off-season home to visit the facility where several of his promising young players were working under the watchful eye of McKechnie. Was the coach impressed with what he saw?
“He told me I undersold it,” said McKechnie. “And instead of spending two days at Fortius he wanted to expand it to four days, leading into the team’s first pre-season game against Sacramento at Rogers Arena (Toronto won 99-94).
“We looked forward to taking advantage of the great facilities at Fortius Sport and Health Centre,” said Casey. “As Canada’s team, we feel this trip will build momentum gained from last season’s playoff appearance and the launch of our We The North campaign.
Tourism Burnaby is a proud partner with Fortius and strong supporter of its objective to bring world-wide attention to this city and the incredible facilities offered. It must be working because Fortius has already hosted the national women’s soccer team, the national men’s rugby 7s squad, Korean under-20 soccer club, the Japanese men’s rugby team, rowing Canada, Vancouver Whitecaps and a host of Provincial teams at all age levels.
Nancy Small, Executive Director of Tourism Burnaby said: “Burnaby is fast becoming known as a city to host and succeed at co-ordinating all kinds of sports events, big or small and to have this world-class facility right in our own backyard further enhances that reputation. We are excited to welcome teams to our city and build on the reputation of Burnaby as a major sport destination.”
In addition to their stay at Fortius, the Raptors also conducted two Community clinics, the first for youngsters, boys and girls, 8-14 years, and the second an open session.
Craig Thompson, Fortius CEO said: “hosting the Toronto Raptors camp and community clinics has been a huge success for us and the positive feedback we received from the team is terrific. We are proud that we could live up to their expectations and deliver.”
McKechnie, a member of the Burnaby Sports Hall of Fame, has been with the Raptors since 2011, after leaving Los Angeles Lakers organization. In his duties with the Toronto team he oversees athletic injuries, rehabilitation, strength and conditioning and injury prevention. He knows his stuff. After graduating from the Leeds School of Physiotherapy in 1974, he because the head Physio for the Varsity Athletic program at Simon Fraser University, leaving after four years to open his own practice in Burnaby, which he sold in 2003 to take the job with the Lakers,
Along the way he became a consultant to Canada’s national soccer teams, Vancouver Canucks, and Burnaby lacrosse teams.
As one of the co-founders, is he excited over what Fortius has become and accomplished? “You bet I am. Everything is here and it is quite unique. It surpasses everything I thought and more.”
And the beat goes on for Fortius. As the Raptors were leaving town, the national women’s soccer team was moving into Fortius to prepare for their October 28 “friendly” against Japan.