It’s almost cliche to say how much Canadians love hockey. For thousands of youth, the dream is to make to the National Hockey League and win the Stanley Cup.
When Cory Cameron realized he didn’t have the hockey skills to reach that level, he went the route of working as a trainer.
“When I realized my athletic abilities weren’t going to take me anywhere in my life I decided to start studying and look into how I could get into athletics and high level sports in other ways,” the Revelstoke native said. “This is a field I found and focused on since high school.”
Cameron grew up playing hockey and other sports in Revelstoke but its his ability as an athletic therapist that has propelled his career. At the age of 34 he has already spent seven years as a trainer with three different Western Hockey League teams and was recently selected as the trainer for the Canadian under-18 junior team for the prestigious Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in the Czech Republic and Slovakia in August.
Cameron got his first break while studying kinesiology at the University of Calgary. A friend was working as an assistant coach for the Trail Smoke Eaters, and when they needed a trainer, Cameron was offered the position. He spent a year there before moving up to the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL.
“It was quick for me. A lot of people work at the Junior A level for a long time before they get the opportunity,” he said. “It just happened I was working with some of the right people and things fell into place and I got that position with the Hitmen when I was still in school.”
After graduation from university in 2006 and completing an advanced diploma in athletic therapy at Mount Royal College, Cameron became the trainer for the Vancouver Giants, where he helped the team win the Memorial Cup in 2007. He called the win one of the best experiences of his life.
“I look back on it and cherish every moment of it – the long bus rides and all that kind of stuff. It all pays off in the end.”
As a therapist, Cameron looks after everything from training regimens to dealing with injuries on the ice. Those can range from small cuts to broken bones and concussions. It means his work is a constant challenge that changes every day.
“It keeps you fresh – you have to be prepared for anything at any time,” he said. “I’m always tapping into my knowledge and trying to learn new things.
“The day-to-day activities are usually pretty mild when you look at it,” he added. “But you have to be prepared for anything emergency wise. You can have a kid go into cardiac arrest on the ice so you have to be prepared to deal with that.”
Last year Cameron was hired as the trainer for the Kootenay Ice in Cranbrook. When he’s not working with junior teams, he works with Crash Conditioning, which trains high level athletes from teenages to NHLers like Jordan Eberle and Mike Green.
He hopes the position with Team Canada will boost his stock further and help him with his dream of making it to the NHL.
“I want to work at the highest level with the best athletes and that’s the National Hockey League,” he said. “And hopefully bring a Stanley Cup back to Revelstoke some day.”
This Monday, July 30, Cameron will be at the Pharmasave in Revelstoke to give a free clinic to students, parents and teachers in all sports. The topics covered will include injury maintenance and prevention, warm ups, concussion awareness and more.
“[Pharmasave owner] Steven [Hui] reached out to me in sports medicine field to talk about what I do, provide the people with education and promote their store,” said Cameron. “We’re trying to bring in coaches and parents and give them information.”
After that he’ll be off to Ontario for the under-18 training camp and then to Europe for the tournament. “At the end of the day not a lot of people would complain about going to work and standing on the bench for a high level of hockey game every night. It’s the best seat in the house.”
The Pharmasave Coaches Clinic with Cory Cameron takes place on Monday, July 30, from 7-8 p.m. at the Revelstoke Pharmasave.