Rick Celebrini: from punk kid to PhD

Rick Celebrini would have never imagined in 1985 when he began playing soccer and studying Arts & Sciences at Capilano then-college that three decades later, he'd receive an honorary doctorate degree from the University.

Release date:

Tag(s): Arts & Sciences

"I was a punk kid coming out of high school," he says.

But on June 6, 2017, this internationally recognized sport and orthopedic physiotherapist and researcher received an honorary doctor of letters from CapU.

"I'm honoured. I'm humbled," he says.

Cap's longtime athletic director Joe Iacobellis recruited the aspiring soccer player and physiotherapist from Burnaby to the North Shore, assuring Celebrini he could take the science courses he needed to study physiotherapy at UBC.

“I already knew I wanted to apply and get into UBC and I knew what the standards were, so I couldn’t afford to slip up on that,” Celebrini says.

He swiftly learned to set goals and practice discipline to achieve them.

“But also, at that age, you’re still wanting to go out with the boys and have some fun and Cap really provided all that,” he says. “It was one of the best times in my life, that few years that I spent at Cap.”

Celebrini became a physiotherapist and furthered his soccer career. He competed at a FIFA World Youth Championship and the 1987 Pan-American Games. He played for the Canadian Men’s national soccer team and competed in professional soccer until 1995, captaining both the Edmonton Brickmen and the Vancouver 86ers.

After 10 years in clinical practice, Celebrini sought to have a greater impact on young grassroots and professional athletes through research and transfer of knowledge, so he returned to UBC to earn his master’s and then a PhD.

Celebrini’s research has focused on injury prevention in sports, screening for injury risk factors and promoting children’s physical activity.

Celebrini is co-founder and a senior member in the leadership team behind Fortius Sport & Health. He served as the manager of medical services and chief therapist for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games. He’s head of sports medicine and science for the Vancouver Whitecaps and director of rehabilitation for the Vancouver Canucks. His clients have included athletes from the National Hockey League (NHL), the National Basketball Association (NBA), the National Football League (NFL) and Major League Baseball (MLB).

His advice to those seeking to make a mark in their field:

“Find your passion in life and create the discipline to achieve it,” he says. “Anything’s possible with hard work and commitment and a razor-sharp focus.”

Submitted by: Cheryl Rossi, Communications & Marketing