Sat. May 21st, 2022

Former Simon Fraser University star point guard assistants now come into her physiotherapy work and are mentored by the likes of Rick Celebrini and Alex McKechnie

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Danielle Langford has a job in the NBA and there’s a Steve Nash connection coming along.

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Langford, 39, a former star point guard in the high school ranks at Missions Heritage Park Highlanders and at Simon Fraser University, signed with the National Basketball Association’s Golden State Warriors in September as manager of player rehabilitation.

Langford had been fascinated by physiotherapy since she was a child – for her career day in 9th grade, she went to the office of her then-physiotherapist Greg Bay – and considered branching out to study it at university in the summer of 2005. She had just helped SFU end a 38-0 season that included the Canadian Interuniversity Sports (now known as U Sports) national title in what was her fifth and final year of eligibility.

In the midst of trying to figure out what was next for her, Langford learned that Nash, who was on his second tour with the Phoenix Suns, came to train at SFU with physiotherapist Rick Celebrini one day out of season. She was gripped enough into the physios scene even then to admit that Celebrini was one of its shining stars.

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Langford watched their session and then approached the couple and asked if she could get a few questions answered.

Celebrini slipped back, Nash stepped forward. And they both laughed when Langford politely said it was actually Celebrini she wanted to talk to.

Celebrini, as it happens, is Langford’s boss today with the Warriors. He is in his fourth season with the NBA club and this year receives a promotion to vice president of player health and performance. This race with the Warriors follows after stays with both the Major League Soccers Vancouver Whitecaps and the National Hockey Leagues Vancouver Canucks.

“I have more of a memory of meeting him that day at SFU than he does,” Langford said. “As many questions as I could have had for Steve, the more relevant ones I had were for Rick.”

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Shortly after that meeting, Langford, the daughter of longtime SFU coach Bruce Langford, applied to study physiotherapy at Curtin University, a school in Perth, Australia. A psychology major with a kinesiology minor at SFU, Langford would complete his master’s degree in physiotherapy at Curtin.

It was also there that she met her husband Gareth Adams, a former University of BC rugby player from Calgary. They have two children: Oliver, 8, and Madeline, 6.

Returning to the lower mainland, Langford worked for Bay at Sport and Spine Physiotherapy in Abbotsford before moving to the Treloar Physiotherapy Clinic in Vancouver and then Fortius Sport and Health, the Burnaby-based center founded by Celebrini.

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It was through that connection that Langford met Alex McKechnie, 70, considered one of the innovators of current physiotherapy. He started at SFU in the 1970s before moving to Whitecaps.

McKechnie had worked with Nash, tennis star Jimmy Connors and football player Owen Hargreaves. His work with Shaquille O’Neal led the Los Angeles Lakers to make him a full-time employee. He went from there to the Toronto Raptors and he is currently their vice president of player health and performance.

Point guard Danielle Langford (right) pushes the ball up the field for Simon Fraser University during a Canadian Interuniversity Sports basketball game in February 2002 against the University of BC
Point guard Danielle Langford (right) pushes the ball up the field for Simon Fraser University during a Canadian Interuniversity Sports basketball game in February 2002 against the University of BC Photo by Stuart Davis /PNG files

Celebrini, 54, who is from Burnaby, is a former footballer who has achieved enough to play for Canada’s U20 national team and later spend four years with the Vancouver 86ers. He broke his ankle as a teenager, came under McKechnie’s custody at the time, and they have since remained tight.

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Langford teamed up with McKechnie to such an extent that they teamed up to found Core AIM, an athletic development program that seeks to make grassroots coaches more proactive than reactive with physical therapy by teaching optimal ways of physical movement to younger athletes.

“Connecting coaches to the clinic,” is among its taglines.

Core AIM has a website (coreaim.ca) and is considering expanding to host clinics or classes.

“She expressed interest in some things that I had already started working on,” McKechnie said. “Some of the movement patterns were similar.

“We’re trying to create a tool to give coaches something for the younger age group.”

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McKechnie tried to recruit Langford to the Raptors’ rehab team, but they could not find a way to make it work. He said she is an “unusually talented therapist” who is decidedly “player-centered.”

“She understands the nuances of being a player and she’s able to apply that knowledge with rehabilitation,” McKechnie said. “If a player understands that you understand what they are going through, it can go a long way.

“She has a bright future.”

McKechnie’s “willingness to share” struck Langford immediately.

“If you showed interest, it was constant sharing,” she said. “The fact that he still has the passion for what he does and the joy of what he does really speaks to me.”

She talks lightly about how lucky she feels she has been because McKechnie took an interest in her career and guided her. The same goes for people like Bay and Celebrini as well as Deb Treloar and Carol Kennedy from Treloar Physio.

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“I take small pieces from all of them and incorporate what I’m trying to do,” Langford said.

She has also been known for sending them thank you letters on National Mentoring Day.

“More than anything else, I keep in touch and try to show appreciation,” she said.

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There are undoubtedly people in the BC basketball community who expect Langford’s post-play career to center on coaching.

Her father Bruce Langford was a high school coach at Missions Hatzic Crusaders and then Heritage Park before moving to SFU. Uncle Paul Langford is the longtime coach of Riverside Rapids, a Port Coquitlam girls’ team that is regularly among the best high school teams in the province.

“I love the psychology part of it. I love the idea of ​​trying to figure out what makes someone tick and be able to build on that and help them evolve,” he said. Danielle Langford. “I’ve never been someone who’s been keen on watching tape and reviewing it, and I know it’s a big part of the job. I’ve never been able to hold on to that.

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“I would love to coach my kids. My dad coached me and it was big for me and big for our relationship. I recognize the impact coaches can have. It’s something I want to do, but next to it.”

It sounds like Langford could still demonstrate exercises at a high level. She admits that Golden State coaches and players quickly discovered she had a player background.

5-foot-5 Langford is one of the better players this province has ever produced. She was the most valuable player in the 2005 CIS National Tournament. She is third all-time in assists (802) for SFU and tops in three-pointers (388), with 119 more than second place on the list. She was also the MVP for the Triple A tournament in her final year at Heritage Park.

“Coaches and players can tell you that I used to play. The cool thing about this journey is that my history as a player and coach is a strength for me that I draw on daily when I work with players and work with coaches. On At present, the area I am now getting expanded and focused on is the medical aspect that I love and learn more and more every day, ”said Langford.

SEwen@postmedia.com

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