It’s a harsh but well-known truth that the CIS tends to be the end of the road for many hockey careers — but former Queen’s Gaels forward Alexi Pianosi is fighting to do things a little differently.
Since graduating from Queen’s with a degree in Kinesiology and Exercise Science in 2014 after a four-year career with the Gaels, Pianosi has found himself a role right away.
He’s gone on to be the President of his own company; Advanced Sports Performance, as well as the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
The Mooseheads, who won the 2013 Memorial Cup, have earned a reputation of being one of the country’s top junior programs.
Pianosi’s work as a private trainer has given him an autonomy that he has relished.
“They’re very trusting,” he said. “I was very, very fortunate to have such a great situation that allows me to implement the things I want to do and sort of create a culture off the ice [where conditioning and training are a focus].”
Pianosi trains with many elite athletes, including Nathan MacKinnon, who was an integral part of the 2013 championship and is currently a member of the Colorado Avalanche.
“I’ve had the privilege of seeing him on a daily basis and watch him grow over the past five years,” Pianosi said.
While MacKinnon is no doubt an elite talent, winning the 2014 Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s best rookie, Pianosi is most impressed by his work ethic and dedication.
“He may be blessed with some unique physical gifts,” Pianosi said, “[but] it’s his determination that’s got him to where he is and will probably propel him to even higher levels in the future.”
Before he started at Queen’s, Pianosi had already established his affinity for training athletes.
“I probably started when I was about 18. I took a few elite-level community kids and spent a weekend on a field doing the work with them, and the year after that it continued to grow.”
Since then, Pianosi continued to expand his private business during summers. But while he’s found success as an entrepreneur, his true passion has been his work with high performance athletes.
“This isn’t a business I got into for the money,” he said. “I love working with athletes and that’s the most important part … as long as I can support myself and do what I love then that’s what I’m happy with.”
His time in Queen’s Kinesiology program helped push his career to the next level, he said.
“What I was learning was very applicable,” he said. “I was able to take little things from my program at Queen’s and put them into my work with the athletes.”
Pianosi registered 32 points and 40 penalty minutes over 89 games played as a Gaels’ defenseman.
At age 26 and just a year out of school, Pianosi is still getting his feet wet in a field that often takes years of experience to break into. Starting his career in his hometown of Halifax with one of the country’s most credible junior teams, however, might be the perfect place to start.
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