67's owner puts focus on helping local athletes

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:32 AM ET

When Jay Hunt was eight years old, he weighed 65 lbs., and was the smallest player on a competitive hockey team that the injury bug would go on to attack. Fearing for his boy's safety, Jay's dad determined that a protection plan was in order.

"Over two seasons, we had a broken leg, a broken arm, a broken wrist and two concussions ... all in contact, Atom hockey," Jeff Hunt said yesterday. "Would these injuries have been prevented by better core strength and conditioning?I don't know, but all the injuries occurred from the kids either falling down or being knocked down.

"If we're playing competitive hockey today, we've got to do this kind of stuff."

Hunt was referring to his latest endeavour -- the creation of the Ottawa 67's Sports Performance Centre -- where hockey teams and players at both minor and elite levels will be the focus, but also joined by athletes from other sports wishing to work on strength and conditioning under trained supervision.

Yesterday marked the grand opening of the Centre, which is attached to and partnered with the Ottawa Sports and Health Centre on Lancaster Rd.

"Without off-ice conditioning, you're at a greater risk of injury," said Hunt, who owns the 67's and is also the frontman for a group trying to bring the CFL back to Ottawa. "With it, you can take a hit better, give a hit better and have better acceleration. When you play competitive hockey it's a privilege, and you have to work at it harder. It's also a good life lesson ... work hard at whatever you're doing and you'll have greater success."

Serving as the Centre's president/fitness and exercise consultant is Chris Schwarz, a former pro volleyball player in his second year as the 67's strength and conditioning coach.

His staff includes six trainers, an athletic therapist, a chiropractor, a massage therapist and a nutritionist.

The rate for teams per one-hour session at the Centre, which also includes a Spin Room for cardio work, is $130-$150, depending on how many sessions they book.

"You need to work on more than just your hockey skill if you're a hockey player," said Schwarz. "Talent takes you only so far ... to get to the next level, it's preparation."


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