By Ryan McCracken
Southern Alberta Newspapers
When Greg Morrison stepped off the diamond to end a 12-year playing career, he knew his time with the game of baseball wasn’t over.
Fourteen years later, Morrison is still very much a part of the game as owner and general manager of the Western Canadian Baseball League’s Medicine Hat Mavericks. But through a partnership between his business, Morrison Movement Therapy, and Temple Fitness, Morrison says he hopes to create a brighter future for athletes of all ages by giving them access to integrated performance training – something he didn’t see until he reached the pros.
“That’s why I do it, because I never had it when I was 18,” said Morrison, who has an office at Temple Fitness, a foul ball’s flight from Athletic Park.
“When I showed up to Dodgertown, it was my brother rolling me some ground balls at the fieldhouse on the cement floor and looking through Muscle & Fitness. When I went down there, that’s really when I only started learning how to throw and work out.
“My goal is, and (Temple’s) goal, if we can work with kids from 10 years old on, to show them how to squat properly, how to deadlift properly, by the time they’re 16 or 17 – a guy like Kayden Hleucka, he’s at Vauxhall and he’s a beast. He’s lightyears ahead of guys because he started when he was 13-14.”
The approach to integrated performance training is as simple as it is complex – combine the best minds of sports, science and medicine to maximize athletic performance while minimizing strain and damage to the body.
Medical professionals are an important part of every athlete’s career, whether it be doctors, physiotherapists, massage therapists or kinesiologists like Morrison, so he says bringing them in on discussions surrounding their condition and performance can maximize potential.
“In the old days we didn’t know the importance of nutrition. Ty Whitrow here (at Temple) … he has a nutrition component to his background,” said Morrison. “Bruce (Foerster, Temple owner-operator) has a Masters of kinesiology, I’ve got a four-year kinesiology and a two-year massage therapy, so we can talk and use these terminologies that we understand.”
Foerster says local athletes from high school to college and beyond have been benefitting from the integrated performance model. Regardless of someone’s sport, or even their reason for being at the gym, Foerster says Temple’s priorities remain the same.
“Priority No. 1 with every athlete we work on is to keep them safe and keep them healthy, and keep them playing. Any athlete that gets injured is no longer of immediate use to their team, so the primary goal of everything we do here is to keep them strong and healthy so they can play,” he said. “Objective No. 2, that’s where we’re trying to improve performance. That’s one of the main things we try to hit home, especially with the younger athletes, just so they know everything we do here isn’t just at the expense of anything just to make you faster or stronger, it’s to keep your body moving properly and efficiently so that you can perform at those high levels.”
Foerster, a former Mavericks pitcher who graduated from William Penn University in Iowa, added he’s in it for many of the same reasons as Morrison – he didn’t have access to integrated training until he was almost out of college.
“It wasn’t until my senior year of college, my last year of eligibility, and it was a game changer. I learned a lot that year. We had a full-on strength staff at the school I went to in Iowa,” he said. “I know, from my standpoint, to see that these are things these kids are getting, I know what kind of dividends it’ll pay off for them on the field, on the court, on the ice. It’s pretty neat to get to see them have these opportunities.”
Foerster says integrated performance training is available to everyone, whether they’re looking to hit more dingers or sit more comfortably.
“There’s working out and there’s training. Anybody can work out and get tired and get sweaty, but training is what’s actually going to get you better,” said Foerster. “That’s what you want to make sure you’re working toward – whatever that is. Whether that’s just so you can sit at your desk comfortably without getting back and neck pain, or to perform at a high level playing whatever sport it is you’re into.”
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