NORTH BAY, Ont. – James Borrelli has joined the North Bay Battalion as its athletic therapist-equipment manager, the Ontario Hockey League club announced Thursday.
Borrelli, a 26-year-old native of Sault Ste. Marie, succeeds Binne Brouwer, who worked six years in the position with the Brampton Battalion but opted not to relocate to North Bay for the 2013-14 season.
Borrelli’s resume includes two stints with the Hamilton Bulldogs of the American Hockey League and two seasons with the Canadian Football League’s Toronto Argonauts.
“It’s exciting to get this position,” Borrelli said via telephone. “The Bulldogs didn’t renew my contract, so I had to search for employment elsewhere. I was looking to be the head therapist in a league like the OHL, and the opportunity arose in North Bay.”
A graduate of the University of Guelph and Sheridan College, Borrelli has studied under Brouwer.
“Binne taught me the equipment course some years ago, and he’s good friends with some of the professors I’ve had, so I knew him. I talked to him about this, and he sat in on my interview.”
Borrelli spent two seasons, starting in 2010-11, with Hamilton as a student therapist under Luc LeBlanc, returning to the club as LeBlanc’s assistant last January. LeBlanc was the Battalion’s head trainer in 2001-02 before joining the National Hockey League’s Montreal Canadiens.
“Luc brings a lot of experience, not just about therapy but how to run a team,” said Borrelli. “You learn a lot from a guy like that. He did all the meals, and I learned about all the administration side from him. Luc taught me to get to know the players.”
Borrelli, who’s getting married Aug. 24, also will manage the strength and conditioning needs of Battalion players.
“The conditioning has changed a lot. You don’t necessarily need to build the player to be built like a brick house. You need to work on power and strength and keep them like a balanced, well-oiled machine. It’s a lot of core-based things. Everything stems from the centre of your body. That might not always have been the focus years ago.”
Borrelli dealt with some junior-aged players in the final weeks of Hamilton’s season as the club brought in Canadiens prospects whose junior seasons had ended.
“It will be a little different. I got to see how they act with the Bulldogs. They aren’t quite professionals, but it’ll be fun.”
Borrelli was a therapist with the Argonauts when they captured the Grey Cup last November.
“Being with the Argonauts was a great experience. Football and hockey are similar in the amount of injuries and contact within the sport. But there are far more players in football; the Argonauts had four therapists and more than 50 players. In North Bay I’m the only therapist for more than 20 players. It’ll be a challenge, but I think I’m capable of handling it.”
(Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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