Last month when the Toronto Argonauts and Ottawa RedBlacks clashed in a CFL game on the Alumni Stadium field, Gryphons’ head athletic therapist David Wright could be excused for not wanting to cheer for one team ahead of the other.
For six years earlier this decade, Wright had been employed by one or the other. He had been with the Argos from 2011 to 2013 and then with the RedBlacks from 2014 to 2016.
One thing he did know was that the new Gryphon Pavilion that houses the team’s 3,300 square-foot locker room and therapy rooms including two in-ground cold and hot tubs and a dry sauna would be superior to anything most of the professional players experienced during their college or university days.
“I’ve been a part of some professional teams and this is comparable if not better,” he says. “Having this type of infrastructure and home base for the players, it’s been very accomodating for the student athlete. This is a professional design by far.”
Wright was named the team’s head athletic therapist in the spring after holding the job in an interim basis during the 2017 football season.
“I’m very happy to be back and to be working with the team and the organization full-time,” he says.
As was the case last school year, Wright will move over to help out some of the other U of G teams, but football will be his priority.
“I will continue my duties as a therapist and head trainer with the football team and my role also involves some duties with the athletic department as well, other varsity sports,” he says. “Certainly for the football season, from August to the end of November, I’ll be here and committed with the team full time and then work with other varsity athletes and sports following.”
Having spent the 2017 season with the football squad means that Wright won’t be entering an unknown situation. He’ll know the returning veterans and also many of the incoming rookies as he’s worked with them during summer training sessions.
“Having some understanding of the University of Guelph certainly with their procedures and policies, having a year under my belt has been very helpful and understanding the process of working with younger, developing student athletes has been very enlightening and very rewarding at this point in my career,” he says.
One of the things he has marvelled at during his time with the Gryphons has been the commitment the players make to the team.
“The commitment that they make, even compared to the pros, their dedication and commitment to the sport and to the team, I’m not going to say it’s higher, but it’s different,” he says. “Obviously the academics and the homework and the exam schedule is primary here and all the kids have been very welcoming and very accepting to some different techniques and so forth. For that, it’s been fantastic for me.”
When the Gryphons open training camp for the 2018 season, there’ll be a new experience for Wright as it’ll be the first training camp held after the opening of the pavilion.
“I’m really honoured to be part of this and to be able to grow with this facility and this team.”