Janick Lacroix keeps fighting with his late coach in his heart and ear
By Chris Welner of HipCheck Media
There’s a voice Alberta boxer Janick Lacroix hears when he steps in the ring.
“Keep your hands up!”
The words are part of many memories Lacroix holds for Mike Kucik, his coach who was shot to death at the age of 76 in an unexplainable tragedy in small-town Saskatchewan.
Lacroix was only 13 when the shooting happened and didn’t understand why his coach of almost two years was gone.
“It was a really tough day and I thought this can’t be true,” remembered Lacroix the morning after losing the gold medal bout at the Canada Winter Games in Red Deer, Alta. “I got depressed and I thought that’s it. I’m not going to box again.”
Kucik was a lifelong fan of the fight game from Ponteix, Sask. He boxed as a young man and had been in many a corner in the decades that followed as a trainer. No one really knows what happened, but it is believed a long-time friend shot Kucik before taking his own life.
“Mike meant a lot to me. He was like my second dad. He taught me to respect my opponent no matter what, to work hard and not to be scared of anyone,” says Lacroix. “He was my mentor and a great guy all around.”
Kerry Fahlman attended Kucik’s funeral in the summer of 2016 and told Lacroix he would take up his friend’s coaching mantle if the lad wanted to relocate three hours west to Medicine Hat. With his mom’s blessing, Janick took the offer and resumed training. Now 16, he lives on his own, trains seven days a week and attends Grade 11 at Medicine Hat High School.
“I definitely fought for my old coach Mike. I always fight for him. Everything I do is for him now,” says Lacroix. “Even when Kerry’s talking, I’ll hear Mike’s voice. He’s always with me.”
Born and raised in small-town Quebec, Lacroix’s family moved west to Saskatchewan when he was 7 years old. A few years later, when a hockey buddy asked if he wanted to join him at boxing, Lacroix found his new passion.
“I saw Janick the day after dad was killed and he was devastated,” says Kucik’s daughter Sharon. ”My dad did his coaching out of his garage and Janick just stood in the garage and cried so hard. He started punching the big bag that was hanging in there, and just kept punching it so hard. Even though I was devastated and still in shock I had to reach out to him and try to console him.
“I know for a fact that my dad will always be with him. Janick had so much respect for my dad.”
Lacroix has had 47 fights in his young career. He won a silver medal at the 2017 Canadian national boxing championships, took gold in 2018 in the 70-kilogram class and was named Alberta’s boxer of the year. After his loss in the Canada Games final to Ontario’s Mohammed Zawadi, Lacroix was already looking forward to a potential rematch at the nationals in Victoria in April. He knows he’ll have extra help in his corner.
“Mike treated me like his son. He checked on me every morning, made sure I did my training and ate well, did my homework. He was a great role model,” says Lacroix
In his pocket, Lacroix keeps a silver locket engraved with a pair of boxing gloves on one side and “Enjoy the Journey” on the other. Inside are two pictures: one of a young boxer named Mike Kucik, the other shows Kucik and a boy with dreams of being an Olympic champion. In the other pocket is a Canada Winter Games silver medal.
2019 Canada Winter Games wraps up in Red Deer
Two weeks of sport excellence and cultural celebrations wrapped up Saturday night with the Closing Ceremony of the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer, Alberta. Since February 15, over 3,600 participants, 5,000 volunteers and 20,000 visitors enjoyed 19 sports and 10 nights of cultural entertainment as part of Canada’s largest multi-sport and cultural event for youth.
“For the past two weeks, Red Deer and central Alberta have celebrated and enjoyed Canada’s largest multi-sport and cultural event,” said Lyn Radford, 2019 Games Board Chair. “Since we were awarded the Games in 2014, we have been focused on delivering a life-shaping Games experience for athletes, spectators and the community. As the Games comes to a close, I am proud to share we delivered on our vision thanks to the dedication of the volunteers, sponsors, and staff. Thank you to everyone who made this a moment to remember.”
“On behalf of the Government of Canada and all Canadians, I congratulate all the athletes—as well as the coaches, officials and all those who supported them—on their performances, and wish them the very best in their future endeavors,” said the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, federal minister of Science and Sport. “Thank you also to all the organizers and volunteers for your exceptional efforts in contributing to this tremendous event.“
“Alberta has been extremely proud to host the 2019 Canada Winter Games. Congratulations to all our young athletes, coaches and mission staff on their outstanding performances at the 2019 Canada Winter Games,” said Ricardo Miranda, Minister of Culture and Tourism, responsible for sport in Alberta. “Congratulations, too, to the Canada Winter Games Host Society, The City of Red Deer and the more than 5,000 volunteers for putting on an exceptional event. This has truly been a team effort. Thank you for being tremendous ambassadors of our province.”
“On behalf of Red Deer City Council, The City of Red Deer and the citizens of our community, it has been a privilege to welcome our nation to Red Deer for the 2019 Canada Winter Games,” said Mayor Tara Veer. “We have been reminded that the maple leaf is unwavering in its ability to bring our country together.”
“Congratulations to the Host Society, volunteers and, of course, the athletes who wowed us with their commitment to excellence and sportsmanship,” said Evan Johnston, Chair of the Canada Games Council. “Because of everyone’s hard work and key partnerships, the Games in Red Deer will leave a lasting legacy of new and enhanced sport facilities, downtown revitalization, social legacy projects and a community pride that will benefit athletes and the broader central Alberta community for years to come.”
For more information on the 2019 Canada Winter Games, visit canadagames.ca/2019.
Volunteering for the Canada Games has been inspiring!
We’ve had an amazing two weeks volunteering as physiotherapists at the 2019 Canada Winter Games. All of us -Lynsie, Kara, Nicki and Leanne – we are tired but inspired!
Through the 2 week period, we dedicated about 140 hours between us to assist the athletes. We have been working at the “polyclinic” where the athletes can seek treatment between training and competition. We are also at venues to assess injuries or assist with taping and such. We are having a great time and so pleased to be part of the Games.
This is Our Moment! Enjoy the Games!
We get asked a lot of questions when we’re out working in public like this so we thought we’d include some of them here for your convenience. You can find out more, along with contact information by clicking this link.
How do I make an appointment for physiotherapy? Does my doctor have to refer me?
Physiotherapists in Alberta are primary caregivers in our health care system. This means that you have direct access to physiotherapy without needing to be referred by your doctor. Anyone needing help to optimize their health can phone and book a physiotherapy assessment at our clinic. If you have a complex medical history or a specific medical concern, you may want to first see your doctor to rule out a medical root of your problem.
I’ve never been for physio…what happens during a physiotherapy assessment?
When you first attend our clinic, you will be asked for general information such as address and family doctor by our receptionist. You will then be taken to a private cubicle and introduced to your physiotherapist. Your physio will ask you questions about your injury/problem as well as your general health. You will then be evaluated regarding your specific problem. The therapist will look at such things as your posture, movement, joint and muscle mobility. This may require some disrobing so you may want to bring a tank top and shorts depending on the area being treated.
Once the physical examination is complete, the therapist will explain your diagnosis and discuss the best treatment options. You will talk about your expectations and goals of treatment. Often a treatment is performed with the initial assessment, if time allows. You are always encouraged to ask questions as your understanding of the injury is crucial in allowing you to improve. You may be given a home program and plan for follow-up.
What kind of training do physiotherapists have?
Physiotherapists/Physical therapists in Canada have a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree in physiotherapy from an accredited university. Only therapists with these credentials are allowed to call themselves physio/physical therapists. After university, physiotherapists improve their skills through experience, learning from their fellow therapists, and by taking post graduate courses in areas of interest or towards specific skills such as manual therapy or IMS. Physiotherapy is a government regulated profession which means that we have a licensing body that is in place to protect the public. You can find out more about the regulation of physiotherapy through the College of Physical Therapists of Alberta (www.cpta.ab.ca).
How do I pay for physiotherapy?
Many people have extended health benefits through their employment or private health insurance. Most of these plans will cover some or all of your physiotherapy assessment and treatments. You may wish to contact your plan advisor to ask for your specific health benefit plan details. Examples of extended health plans may be Great West Life, Blue Cross, Manulife, ASEBP…to name a few. Venus, our office manager, is also very knowledgeable about these plans and may be able to assist you. Call Venus at 403-356-9789, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Many benefit plans allow direct billing. This means that we will bill your treatment cost directly to your insurer for you. Some insurance plans to not allow this. If this is the case, we bill you for your treatment and you submit your invoice to your plan for reimbursement. We accept cash, visa, mastercard, and debit transactions.
Do I have to do my exercises?
Yes! While therapists at Pursuit Physiotherapy use their manual skills and other modalities to help you with your problem, your active participation in your treatment is crucial to your recovery. We do not pretend to fix people! We want to give you tools necessary to manage your problem. We are more than happy to teach you how to do that and use treatments such as manual muscle or joint mobilization, electrical or thermal modalities, needling, etc to help accelerate your recovery.
How many times will I need to go for treatment?
This varies considerably. Part of the philosophy of the physiotherapy profession is to give the patient tools to be as independent as possible in their treatment. We have you attend for treatments when you need hands-on care or regular follow up. We educate you on exercises and modifications in your movement or activities to allow you to continue to improve at home. We strive to have you back to your activities as efficiently as possible and do not believe that everyone requires frequent or ongoing treatment.
Pursuit Physiotherapy in Red Deer, promotes balanced, healthy living through dedicated, individualized physical therapy for those in pain, unable to participate fully in their daily activities, wanting to maximize their function for work or sport, and wanting to prevent potential problems.
Quality care. Quality Life.
If something is affecting your quality of life, then we want to help you to optimize your function and minimize your pain.
We are located at 110, 2840 Bremner Avenue in Red Deer. Call us anytime at 403-356-9789.
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