There’s an old saying in sports: Father time is undefeated.
Just don’t tell that to Dr. Graeme Schnell.
Last weekend, Schnell made his return to the game of squash that he’s been playing for 25 years at the Canadian National Squash Championship in Montreal, Quebec, eight years after leaving the pro circuit to focus on his budding career as a chiropractor.
Defying everyone’s expectations except his own, Schnell ended up placing third in the men’s open division. Because of this, he was selected to the Canadian Men’s National Team for the 2023 Pan American Squash Championship. For Schnell, the return to the pro game was all about balance.
“I tried to compete at a couple of professional events but didn’t really have time to dedicate myself fully to becoming heavily involved,” Schnell said.
“I’m now a full-time chiropractor but still enjoy playing as much as I can, some weeks I’m able to train more, and some weeks I’m not able to train much, but an opportunity came up in Montreal in the Canadian National Championship.”
Schnell and his wife made the decision to head to Montreal for the tournament. The result mirrored the success he had when he was on the pro circuit.
In 2014/2015, Schnell was doing quite well on the pro circuit.
Around this time Schnell had to make a difficult decision. After studying kinesiology at The University of Calgary, Schnell’s interest in helping athletes in their recovery presented a difficult decision. He would have to move out to Toronto and dedicate a minimum of four years to becoming a chiropractor, which would essentially derail his professional squash career.
Schnell followed his heart and moved to Toronto knowing this would effectively stop any momentum that he had gained on the pro circuit.
Today, Schnell operates the Active Back to Health clinic in Calgary.
He still stayed connected to the sport; he provided physical therapy services for numerous professional squash events in Calgary and has helped members of the Canadian National Squash Team.
After his recent success, Schnell plans on playing squash as much as possible. He admits it won’t be at the same level as it was when he was on the pro circuit, but he thinks that might be the secret to success.
“I don’t have 20 hours a week as I used to in 2015 when I was playing on the pro circuit as a professional player,” Schnell said.
“If I’m able to dedicate, say, eight hours a week, that’s still a lot for most people, but I have to make the most out of those eight hours. I have to focus as much as can to make sure that those eight hours are utilized to the best of their ability,” Schnell said.
The 2023 Pan American Squash Championships will take place from June 4 to June 10 and Team Canada will be represented by four men (David Baillargeon, Graeme Schnell, Brett Schille, and Liam Marrison) and four women (Hollie Naughton, Nicole Bunyan, Nikki Todd, and Sydney Maxwell), according to the 2023 Pan American Squash Championships website.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The original story had Shawn Delierre as a selected participant. The Pan Am Squash Championship website has since been updated with Canadian competitors, removing Delierre and adding Brett Schille.