It is hard to imagine a pro athlete and businessperson such as Trevor Linden ever lacking direction.
But the former Canuck said he struggled and worked hard on his own to develop as a hockey player growing up in Alberta.
"In Medicine Hat, you blindly just did what you thought was right without any direction," he said at a press conference outside the new Fortius Sport and Health centre in Burnaby on Wednesday.
The potential for athlete development at the new complex, which is comprised of the Fortius Athlete Development Centre and Fortius Institute for sports science and medicine, is one of the reasons athletes and former athletes are backing the project.
Athletes of all ages, including teen athletes, will be able to go to the centre for treatment of injuries, but also for proper training and development, Linden said.
The athlete advisory board includes Linden, former pro golfer Richard Zokol, former tennis pro Grant Connell, basketball star Steve Nash, and Olympians Silken Laumann and Johann Olav Koss.
Construction of the $61-million complex at Kensington Avenue and Joe Sakic Way is nearing completion, with tenants expected to move in this coming spring.
The project stalled in 2008 during the recession but was boosted last year by a $23-million donation from Scott Cousens, founder of the centre.
"It's given us all at the City of Burnaby some gray hairs as people drove by and saw the gradual development," Mayor Derek Corrigan said at the press conference, adding, "But when a development is so strong, it requires a struggle."
Corrigan was referring to the new name of the complex - formerly called the Multisport Centre of Excellence - Fortius, which means "strong" or "strength" in Latin.
Corrigan spoke about the struggle athletes make to develop, which he compared to the struggle the founders of the complex have made to get it built.
He also said it was a great addition to the city and would provide tremendous opportunities.
Cousens, chair of the Fortius Foundation, said it was an emotional day for him. He thanked the many people involved with the project, and those who have supported it.
He spoke highly of the sport medical advisory board and the practitioners involved, including Dr. Rick Celebrini, who was appointed director of sport medicine and science at the event.
Celebrini, who is also head of sports medicine and science for the Vancouver Whitecaps, is a co-founder and partner for the project.
"I know they are a team that will collaborate with each other," Cousens said, adding Fortius is also committed to collaborating with like-minded organizations.
Celebrini also spoke at the conference, saying Fortius would change how athletes develop.
"The real identity of this will be as an athlete development centre," he said.
Celebrini mentioned his Burnaby connections, saying he grew up here, playing youth soccer with the Cliff Avenue club.
But the scope of the Fortius centre would extend outside of the city, he stressed.
"It will transcend the boundaries of Burnaby," he said, "making sure the hotbed of sport in B.C. is enhanced.