A little over a month ago, the Toronto Raptors brought basketball fans across Toronto and all of Canada to their feet, winning their first ever NBA Championship and bringing the Larry O’Brien trophy home. In the weeks since, we’ve continued to bask in the glow of being Champions – with very few days passing without seeing Raptors and Championship apparel around the city. And while we think we had a prime seat to witness history, our view was nothing like that of the Sport Medicine Clinic’s Zahra Hashwani.
Zahra, who has been a Registered Massage Therapist (RMT) at the Clinic for the last 17 years, specializes in Advance Deep Tissue massage, sport injuries, rehabilitation, and Thai Yoga massage. Her experience and specialties led her to a position with the Raptors, where she’s been working since March 2017 as an RMT and auxiliary staff to the Raptors’ medical team. So, we sat down with Zahra to learn a bit more about her role with the team and how it felt to be part of the magic this season.
What is a day in the life like for you during the NBA season?
Massage is predominantly used as a recovery modality with the team. Massage therapy generally occur between games and post-games. For example, upon arrival in a city the day before a game, I would be called in to offer massage therapy services for players to promote circulation and decrease muscle tension. The number of players I would see each day varies greatly based upon their needs.
At what point in this season did you begin to think “they could really win this”?
I felt optimistic from the beginning. I’m a born and raised Torontonian and have always supported the city and their sport teams. However, when you have such an incredible depth of talent and skill on a team, it’s easy to begin thinking (and dreaming) bigger. My optimism grew with each round of the playoffs. And once the team came back from being down 2 games against Milwaukee, winning four straight to win the Eastern Conference Finals, winning the Championship, to me, became very real and tangible.
Were you in Oakland the night the team won the Championship? If so, what was that like?
I was and it was an unbelievably amazing experience. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to be present for the win. I got to celebrate in the locker room with the team, staff, and organization. Plus, I even got to spend a bit of time with Larry O’B. It was epic. Honestly, I am so humbled to be part of history.
What was it like being part of the parade and seeing Toronto (and all of Canada) supporting the Raptors?
The Championship parade was a monumental moment for our city and nation, and to participate with my family was truly a proud occasion. The support of millions of people – and the diversity of the crowd - coming together, united to celebrate…I’m just so proud to be Canadian.
Is there anything you miss about the Clinic when you’re traveling with the team during the season?
I miss my colleagues, clients, and our Members. The environment and people here are second to none – when I return it really does feel like I’m coming back home to my family. My career here, these past 17 years, is a testament to that. I appreciate the support and encouragement from the Sport Medicine Clinic and Toronto Athletic Club on this journey.
We are thrilled to have Zahra back home with us this summer at the Sport Medicine Clinic, and we’re pretty excited to say that we’re just one degree separated from the Larry O’B! If you’d like to book an appointment with Zahra this summer, please contact the Sport Medicine Clinic.
Zahra Hashwani, Registered Massage Therapist, Sport Medicine Clinic