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Courtesy: Duke Sports Information
Student-Athletes Attend APPLE Leadership Conference
Saturday 02/03/2012  -  Duke Sports Information
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DURHAM, N.C.--Five Duke University student-athletes and Shayna McGeehan, a Student-Athlete Development and Championships Administration Assistant, recently attended the 21st annual Athletic Prevention Programming and Leadership Education (APPLE) conference in Charlottesville, Va.. earn about substance abuse prevention and ways to promote healthy living on Duke's campus. 

The APPLE model helps athletic departments evaluate and address the strengths and weaknesses of their alcohol and drug prevention programs, while encouraging teams to create a university-specific action plan.

The team met prior to the conference to assess Duke's needs and to identify the areas they would be focusing on.

"It was a good opportunity to get to know each other and start brainstorming ideas for an action plan before we got there," McGeehan said.

The model focuses on seven key areas: recruitment practices, departmental expectations and attitudes, education programs, policies, drug testing, sanctioning procedures, and referral and counseling.

"It's really neat because it breaks down the whole substance abuse prevention" says McGeehan.  "I think when you attend something like that you feel like you're suppose to change your whole campus, which is too hard for a year.  So you pick a slice of the apple and focus on that."

The team decided to concentrate on the expectations and attitudes slice of the apple.

"We're focusing on the culture of Duke because it's a broad issue that can't be changed all at once," says McGeehan. 

Part of the team's action plan is to come up with an alternative event that people can attend on the weekends without feeling the pressures of alcohol. "They are trying to put on a volleyball tournament to give students something to do on a Friday that doesn't involve alcohol, but still promote interaction between a bunch of students," says McGeehan.

With so many teams from all over in attendance, interaction between schools is a big part of the conference.

"It's why our student-athletes like it so much...it's a great opportunity to network with other administration and schools to learn more about what they are doing on campus and to share what we're doing here," added McGeehan, who has now attended four conferences.

Most of the student-athletes who attended the conference were student mentors in the first year action program. The Duke student-athletes included Will Bryant (Football), Grace Christus (Field Hockey), Abby Hassinger (Field Hockey), Julian McIntosh (Men's Soccer), and Taylor Sowell (Football). 

"The conference was such a great experience. It was a really cool way to meet other student athletes and learn about other campuses," said Christus, "I met other athletes and got a lot of insight on what their social lives consisted of and how athletes and alcohol interact."

"It was a great experience.  I am very proud of our five student-athletes.  They really stepped up in the leadership role, and I'm excited to see them carry out their plan," says McGeehan.

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