By Scott McLean
All things considered, Marc Rizzardo is leading a charmed life.
The Vancouver native, whose Burnaby-based Metrotown Orthopedic and Sports Physiotherapy Clinic is celebrating its 20th anniversary, recently got the call of a lifetime. Rizzardo, who served as chief therapist for the Canadian team at the 2007 Pan-Am Games and for the 2008 Canadian Olympic women’s soccer team, was tabbed in late November by the Canadian Olympic Committee to be chief therapist for the Canadian team at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
“When I got the news I was at the clinic and I was pretty ecstatic, it’s a tremendous honour,” says Rizzardo, who is also a director with SportMed BC. “It was a fast process, I found out I was shortlisted, then they interviewed all the shortlisted candidates in one day, and within 24 hours they had made their decision.”
Rizzardo, a former varsity soccer player at UBC, is enjoying a parallel career that is the envy of those in his field. On top of being a partner in his own clinic, and working with various national teams and boards, Rizzardo has also served as the head coach of the Langara men’s soccer program since 1986, and in 2008 worked as an assistant coach with the Vancouver Whitecaps women’s program. It’s been a difficult balance at times, but Rizzardo says when he was starting out full-time coaching opportunities just were not available.
“At a certain point I probably did have to make a decision [between coaching and physiotherapy], and back then there were not that many full-time career opportunities in soccer,” says Rizzardo. “The benefit of my career quite frankly is that I love my job, and I’ve gotten so many different opportunities on top of it. I’ve consulted for EA Sports, I’ve worked with the Minnesota Wild during a playoff run, I’ve been able to coach, obtain my A-license, and be a part of a coaching residency program.”
As chief therapist, Rizzardo has boiled his mantra of the 2010 games down to “Making sure the athletes get what they want when they need it.” And to achieve that goal requires diligent planning on Rizzardo and his team’s part.
“The whole goal for the medical team and support staff is to make sure athletes are performing at their top level during the games at all times,” says the two-time CCAA Coach of the Year. “We need everything coordinated so that we can cater to the athletes, so that we can get them on the podium. My role is to make sure everyone on the team knows where the priority is for the next day, knowing where everyone is, we are literally on call 24 hours a day.”
At the centre of Rizzardo’s world is his clinic in Metrotown, which relocated over a year ago to expand its physical size to accommodate the growing client base. The clinic offers a wide range of services from intramuscular stimulation to electro and hydrotherapy, and his client base features high profile NHLers and CFLers among the weekend warriors.
“We opened the new space a year and a half ago and the response from the public has been fantastic, we are trying to be at the leading edge,” says Rizzardo. “We started as a pretty small clinic, and the competition in this field is very heavy, but it really has worked out exactly the way I hoped.”