The other side of the field

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Photo by Will Online
Photo by Will Online

“You don’t realize how far you’ve come from where you’ve started.”

These exact words were echoed by Alena Luciani, the strength and conditioning coach for 13 varsity teams at Wilfrid Laurier University. Coming to Laurier in 2009, Luciani started her journey when she joined the women’s basketball team. Luciani played four years of basketball, followed by a stint with the women’s lacrosse team in her fifth year.

“Laurier is one big family, the Golden Hawk family, and I’m really happy that I was able to be a part of that as an athlete and now being able to see that from the other side of things,” she said.

During her time as a student-athlete, Luciani juggled her time working at the Hawk Desk as well as being a personal trainer, even starting a group training program called, “Train to Excel” in her third year. It was that same summer that Luciani got a job at a training facility outside of Laurier.

That started the wheels turning of entering the world of strength and conditioning.

“It became something I wanted to bring to the group training program,” Luciani explained.

By the end of her fifth year, Luciani was asked to work with some of the varsity teams, and following graduation, made a proposal to the Laurier athletics department to take the position of strength and conditioning coach.

“I guess there was something they really liked about it, because they brought me on board last year, and this year will be my second year working with a handful of the teams,” she said.

Luciani has a special connection to the football program in particular as both her brothers played for the men’s football team, with brother Dante Luciani being a receiver on the famous 2005 Vanier Cup team.

According to Luciani, as the youngest of three, she was taught about working hard for what she wanted whether it be on the court or on the field.

University sports are a unique experience for a strength and conditioning coach, especially at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport level. Coaches train for opponents during the week and when the weekend comes along, the coach is eager to see how their training has helped the athlete with their in-game performance. This is Luciani’s favourite part about being a trainer.

“I’m able to work with these teams off the field, off the ice and off the court, and then that weekend be able to go and watch them play. They’re working together for a common goal on the field, and also working for a common goal in the weight room,” she said.

Luciani’s experience playing multiple sports at the varsity level and the fact that these experiences happened very recently really helps her connect to the athletes she’s working with. After getting a taste of coaching athletes, Luciani was taken away by the feeling of satisfaction she gets from helping athletes reach their goals.

“Once I started being on the other side and coaching other athletes through it, there was something so satisfying about seeing them progress and reaching the goals they want to reach,” Luciani said.

“I’ve lived and breathed everything these athletes are doing, I’ve been through ups and downs in my career, it’s not just smooth sailing, but going through that is what got me to where I am today.”


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