DURHAM, N.C. – With the beginning of the 2018-19 academic year and athletics campaigns just weeks away, the Duke University Athletic Association has announced the formation of the Integrative Performance Excellence Group. The group will work to enhance the experience of Duke student-athletes by providing an integrative approach to the care of each individual athlete throughout his or her collegiate career.
Led by Executive Director of Athletic Medicine and Chairman of the Integrative Performance Excellence Group Hap Zarzour, the group is comprised of directors in the areas of Sports Performance, Athletic Medicine, Sports Nutrition and Behavioral Health, as well as individuals representing psychological services, team physicians and primary care physicians. The group will also continue cultivating partnerships with the Duke University Hospital, Duke Sports Science Institute, Duke Student Health and Duke Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) as part of its holistic approach to student-athlete health.
“Athletics performance and athletic success, just like academic success, is based on the whole person,” Zarzour said. “The basis for forming the Integrative Performance Excellence Group was to be able to take all the excellent resources available to our student-athletes here at Duke and put them together, under one umbrella. We want to send one message and maximize each of those resources.”
Along with Zarzour, those serving in the Integrative Performance Excellence Group include Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ned Amendola, Head Medical Team Physician Dr. Jeff Bytomski, Director of Athletic Rehabilitation Kerry Mullenix, Associate Director of Sports Performance William Stephens, Director of Sports Nutrition Beth Miller, Assistant Director of Athletics/Student-Athlete Development Leslie Barnes, Director of Sport Psychology and Leadership Programs Dr. Greg Dale and Director of Behavioral Health Dr. Shawn Zeplin.
Zeplin comes to Duke as the athletic department’s first Director of Behavioral Health. He most recently served as the Clinical and Sport Psychologist at Auburn and has also previously provided psychological services for student-athletes at Illinois State, Oklahoma and Denver.
“Dr. Zeplin, who has experience at a Power Five university with elite student-athletes, gives us a specificity that will help our student-athletes,” Zarzour said. “Duke has great resources. Durham has great resources. Our campus has great resources. But the specificity of having someone who understands what student-athletes go through daily – what the stresses, anxieties and demands are – can aid our student-athletes considerably.”
Zeplin and other members of the Integrative Performance Excellence Group, as well as their staffs, will collaborate with Duke coaches to generate individual student-athlete performance excellence plans (IPE), aimed at improving performance on and off the field. The group will also develop and implement policies designed to provide a high quality of performance excellence and medical and mental health services to Duke student-athletes and teams.
Communication and feedback from coaching staffs and student-athletes – including those who comprise Duke’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) – will also play a vital role as the Integrative Performance Excellence Group enters its first year.
“This is a comprehensive group that, if you draw a diagram, every part of this overlaps,” Zarzour said. “Duke has been the hub and at the forefront of these types of issues for years and years. We have character student-athletes. So, in organizing, combining and unifying all of these resources and having an awareness of what’s available, we can gear it to the coaches, for their teams and for the student-athletes. It makes us unique.”