Mercyhurst Magazine Fall 2022

“We have a great life here,” said Hale, who counts himself fortunate to work with his wife. He also has made meaningful relationships with former football coach Brian Kelly and newcomer Marcus Freeman. “I wouldn’t be here without any of the people I’ve encountered along the way,” he said. “From my hometown coaches and teammates to the people I work with now, I thank them all. It hasn’t always been sunshine and rainbows, but everything shapes you into the person you become.”

full-time position upon graduation, and she worked as an exercise physiologist and lab coordinator to provide physiological testing and feedback to athletes and coaches, design yearly training plans, and conduct applied research and interventions to optimize performance. Lacroix has been the lead physiologist for the Canadian Paralympic Wheelchair Rugby team since 2012 and recently assumed positions as the lead strength and conditioning coach and lead for Integrated Support Team (IST). She specializes in injury prevention, physical preparation, training load monitoring, and applied environmental physiology in parasport. Lacroix has attended Paralympic Games (Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020), Para Pan American Games (2015, 2019), and World Championships (2014, 2018) as a support staff for Wheelchair Rugby Canada. She assists the team with physical preparations including heat acclimation training before major games, along with cooling and recovery strategies throughout the competitions. “I remember learning about athletes with disabilities in my classes, but it was a big learning curve gaining the hands-on exposure with parasports at the Canadian Sport Institute,” Lacroix said. “We are constantly learning and being challenged; there is very little applied research available on elite parasport athletes, so we do a lot of our own research and create case studies to make more evidence-informed decisions.” Lacroix has provided physiology and sport science support to other Olympic and Paralympic teams and athletes as well. She is also the lead physiologist at the Canadian Sport Institute Ontario and mentors the next generation of sport science practitioners in Canada. Lacroix collaborated with multidisciplinary practitioners, coaches, and athletes while earning her degrees from Mercyhurst, and she continues to engage with other professionals today. “Being able to collaborate with interdisciplinary teams—which could include practitioners such as nutritionists, strength and conditioning coaches, mental performance coaches and sport therapy staff—is crucial in my job today. It takes a collaborative and holistic approach to solve problems and support high-performance athletes,” Lacroix said. “Having that experience of collaborating in team environments, developing multiple skills sets and the understanding of evidence-informed research practices has set me up for success in my career.”

Fred Hale is a strength coach for Notre Dame football.

Melissa Lacroix ’12 thrives working in parasports

By Kristian Biega

Encouraged by her professor, Christine Lo Bue-Estes, Ph.D., to “shoot for the moon” for her final graduate internship, Melissa Lacroix ’12 landed her dream position with the Canadian Sport Institute Pacific. That opened the door for her career as a lead physiologist, working with a variety of Olympic and Paralympic teams. “One of the biggest things I took from my experience at Mercyhurst was the people who supported me. It was very demanding and time- consuming to pursue athletic training while playing hockey,” Lacroix said. “My coaches and professors gave me the support and reassurance that I could do this.” After graduating with her B.A. in Athletic Training, Lacroix sought to further her skills through Mercyhurst’s M.S. in Exercise Science. “It was the combination of my undergraduate background in AT and the master’s in Exercise Science that gave me the skill set to earn an internship with the Canadian Sport Institute my final year of graduate school,” Lacroix said. The Canadian Sport Institute provides training environments and delivers sport science and sport medicine support to athletes developing from the Provincial to Olympic and Paralympic levels. She was offered a

Melissa Lacroix ’12 traveled to the 2019 Parapan American Games in Lima, Peru, as lead physiologist for the Canadian Wheelchair Rugby team.


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