soccer
Credit: Melissa Renwick

After work, Tancredi (left) and Iacchelli play for the North Shore Renegades

The Workshop Performance Clinic owners and former pro players still take the field

What happens when two medical professionals meet on the soccer pitch? For chiropractor Melissa Tancredi and physiotherapist Selenia Iacchelli, the outcome was co-founding a Vancouver clinic.

The pair first got together as members of Canada Soccer’s Women’s National Team in 2015, but they already knew each other by reputation. “The soccer world’s very small, especially on the national team,” Iacchelli explains.

Tancredi says, “We’d heard of each other, and we’d talked and whatever, and then finally we met in Vancouver,” where the national team is based.

The conversation bounces back and forth between Mel and Sel, as they refer to each other, like a verbal passing drill. Though Tancredi grew up in Ancaster, Ontario, and Iacchelli is from Edmonton, they have a lot in common, including Italian heritage.

Tancredi recalls, “When we first met, we were talking about our family, and she was like, Yeah, my dad’s from Ascoli Piceno, and I’m like, My dad’s from Ascoli Piceno.”

“Tiniest town,” says Iacchelli. “Even Italians don’t know it.”

“We’re kind of paisans,” remarks Tancredi. “We’re probably related.”

Both got into soccer as children, joined provincial teams in their teens, attended American universities on sports scholarships and played professionally. A three-time Olympian, Tancredi graduated from Indiana’s University of Notre Dame in 2005 with a BA in pre-medicine and anthropology. After being treated by a chiropractor for Achilles tendon problems in her senior year, she was so intrigued that she did her thesis on the subject and obtained her doctorate of chiropractic from Missouri’s Logan University in 2014. She began practising two years later, once she’d retired after competing in the Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics.

Inspired to become a physiotherapist because of treatment she’d received for numerous soccer injuries, Iacchelli got her master of physiotherapy from the University of Alberta in 2012, after graduating with a BSc in nutrition, exercise and health science from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

U.S. educational institutions that get federal funding are required to provide as much money for women’s as men’s sports programs, “so you can just imagine our facilities and our equipment and the support we got,” Iachelli says. Tancredi credits her parents for encouraging her to go to school in the States. “My life would have been so different,” she observes. “At that time, that’s where the national teams were pulling from. That’s where the exposure was: you’re on TV, you’re all over the media.”

Both now play soccer recreationally for the North Shore Renegades in the premier division of the Metro Women’s Soccer League. Iacchelli joined in 2015 and persuaded Tancredi to enlist two years later. “I waited a year [after retiring] and then, peer pressure,” Tancredi says.

Tancredi is a striker, a position she had always played until tearing her anterior cruciate ligament right before college. Although recruited as a forward, because the injury slowed her down she played her college career as a centre-back before gradually moving back up the field. By 2008, she was a striker again—her favourite position “by far,” she confirms. “Very glamorous.” Iacchelli is a midfielder. “I never changed positions,” she says. “I was always attacking-minded.”

There are two practices a week, which they tend to skip, and a game on Sunday. “It’s recreational, but it’s not,” Iacchelli explains. “Everyone who plays in premier league has played soccer at a high level, whether a little bit professionally, in the Canadian college system or in the States. That’s why we get our fix—we love the game still, so it’s good enough to be competitive, but it’s not too much of a commitment.”

Warrior Spotlight

Melissa Tancredi and Selenia Iacchelli launched the Workshop Performance Clinic at Vancouver’s East Georgia and Main streets in January, but they’d dreamed about it for years. “We always knew the exact clinic we wanted to build, and it’s because of our careers as athletes,” Iacchelli says. “We had a concept in our mind, and now to see it come to fruition is pretty amazing,” adds Tancredi. As well as chiropractic and physiotherapy, the six-member team offers registered massage and shockwave therapy, dry needling, and personal and sport-specific performance training. Clients range from elite and amateur athletes to parents with neck or back problems from carrying their kids.