Physiotherapist, teacher, athlete. Clyde Smith has brought great enthusiasm, expertise and passion to Vancouver’s sporting community. Respected and consulted locally, nationally and internationally for his vast knowledge of sport rehabilitation, Clyde has worked with the Vancouver Canucks, the Grizzlies and numerous Olympic and Pan American teams. He recently retired as the founder and partner in the Allan McGavin Sport Rehabilitation Clinic which is one of the best sports rehab centres in the province. As one of the original supporters of SportMedBC, Clyde serves as a member of the Board of Directors.
Clyde Smith is a native of Oregon. He was first known as a football player with the Oregon State Beavers and later as a member of the Edmonton Eskimos. Now an avid distance cyclist, Clyde is in his 34th year as a practicing sport physiotherapist. He has treated almost every kind of athlete from the weekend warrior who bikes the trails of Pacific Spirit Park to the 93 year old tennis player, to members of the Vancouver Canucks. Sports therapy has taken Clyde to three Olympic Games, three Pan American Games and 22 countries. He has worked with gymnasts, field and ice hockey players, swimmers and wrestlers.
Often regarded as a pioneer in sport therapy, Mr. Smith was one of the first people hired by Toronto’s Sheridan College in 1973 to assist in the creation of a course designed to train professional sports team trainers. The course was the first of its kind in the country, and has since developed into a three-year diploma program.
After leaving Toronto, Clyde joined with Dr. Peter Grantham, head of the medical faculty at UBC, and three orthopedic surgeons and two primary care physicians to create the Allan McGavin Sports Medicine Clinic at UBC. They were one of the original sports therapy clinics in the city but as Clyde is quick to point out, the name sport therapy is a bit misleading. He says, “The uniting force with all of our clients is their desire to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle.” Clyde’s focus has always been on rehabilitation through activity. He emphasizes that for him, everyone’s goals are valid, one is no more important than the other. Or as he says, “I love being around people who have a passion for fitness and I want to help them to meet their goals of an active and health lifestyle.”
It’s clear that Clyde’s enthusiasm for helping others coupled with his passion for sport is illustrated in the look and feel of his clinics. You only have to step foot into the new Allan McGavin Sport Medicine Clinic at the Plaza of Nations to understand. Located in what is arguably one of the most breathtaking landscapes in the province, the clinic maximizes the natural beauty of False Creek with its endless windows and incorporates the west coast feel with its warm décor and relaxed atmosphere.
But it has not been all smooth roads. . . recently, there have been difficult times for physiotherapists in this province. For example, two years ago Clyde and his business partners opened their third clinic and less than three months later the BC Government de-listed physiotherapy from the provincial health plan. Under the previous government, patients at their clinic would pay a $20 user fee for each visit and the provincial government would pay the remaining fee. Currently, patients have to pay the entire fee themselves, or through third-party, extended care plans.
Initially, the health care changes significantly reduced the clinic’s business. “It has taken awhile, but,” according to Clyde, “people are slowly adjusting to the changes and paying for treatment.” It is obvious that even in the face of these challenges, after 32 years, Clyde still clearly loves his chosen profession.