Hurricanes high on program’s new health, wellness department
CORAL GABLES — In the moments after the Hurricanes wrapped up the regular season with a decisive win over Pittsburgh, running back DeeJay Dallas, who scored twice in Miami’s 24-3 victory, couldn’t stop smiling.
It was, for Dallas, a welcome change from the nightmarish stretch weeks earlier, when the normally steady-handed sophomore fumbled the ball multiple times, each of his turnovers proving costly in the Hurricanes’ losses to Coastal Division foes Duke and Georgia Tech.
But in the Pittsburgh game, Dallas was back to his typical play-making self, totaling 110 all-purpose yards and scoring on both a 65-yard punt return and a 3-yard touchdown run that capped the Hurricanes’ scoring.
So what changed for the running back? Had he spent extra time on the practice field? Had he studied more film? Maybe. But he revealed immediately after the game that he had sought a different kind of help — from Miami’s new sports psychologist, Dr. Eric Goldstein, who joined the Hurricanes staff in August as part of UM’s new Performance, Health and Wellness Department.
“There was a lot of stuff on my mind. We talked that out.” DeeJay Dallas, on meeting with Miami’s new sports psychologist, Dr. Eric Goldstein, to help solve issues with fumbling
“There was a lot of stuff on my mind,” Dallas said. “We talked that out.”
As Dallas shared some of the details of his visits with Goldstein, the psychologist’s phone began buzzing. It’s not often a young athlete is willing to share the fact he’s sought help from a psychologist, rarer still that he do so in a setting as public as a post-game news conference.
It was, though, something personal Dallas had chosen to share, and Goldstein, as he watched, knew the running back’s frankness would likely inspire some of his teammates or fellow UM athletes to seek help if they needed it, too.
“Honestly, my first thought is he’s a courageous guy,” Goldstein said. “It’s not like he talked about getting his knee scoped. Everyone does that. … And from a selfish standpoint, those kinds of things help destigmatize what I do.
“When I saw [Dallas], I just thought ‘This is going to be so good for those athletes that are still on the fence.’ … For those athletes who may have things they need to talk about and feel like they don’t have anyone to talk to, hopefully, this is just another push. We care about these athletes as people. To have stuff go on in your life and not feel like you have anyone you can talk to ... Hopefully, that helps, as other athletes come out and talk about it.”
While Dallas’ post-game honesty may have made Goldstein one of the more visible members of Miami’s new department, he isn’t the only one currently working to keep Hurricanes’ athletes performing at a high level.
This year, Miami also added its first full-time sports dietitian, Megan McLeod, to the staff. And Luis Feigenbaum, who previously served as UHealth Chief of Sports Physical Therapy, has been named a senior associate athletic director in charge of the Performance, Health and Wellness Department. There, Miami running back DeeJay Dallas, seen here celebrating the Hurricanes’ 2017 win over Notre Dame, sought assistance from UM's new sports psychologist this season as he dealt with fumbling issues on the field.
he’ll oversee a group of athletic trainers, physical therapists, nutritionists, strength and conditioning staffers and a sports psychologist that will, he hopes, work together to help UM athletes achieve success both on and off the field in a number of ways, including with a comprehensive approach to rehabilitation and injury recovery.
“Usually sports is at the forefront of advancing technologies or rehabilitation programs, that kind of stuff. But I think, actually, on this end, sports was way behind other models until recently,”
Feigenbaum said. “If you look at cancer rehabilitation, it’s a multi-disciplinary approach with nursing and specialists and psychologists and physical therapists and physicians. It’s the same with cardiac rehabilitation.
“Now, that approach looks like its finally hitting sports, which is good. I think we’re on the precipice of major change in how health care is delivered in the Power-5 conferences and schools that have the means or have a health system they can lean on. … There are resources here at Miami to have an incredible
An example of how the department hopes to work is when an athlete has to undergo surgery, they won’t simply meet with a team doctor, athletic trainer or physical therapist to deal with the injury. They’ll meet with Goldstein and McLeod, too. There will be sessions before and after the procedure in an effort to help the athlete recover both mentally and physically from what they’re having to go through.
“Getting someone back from injury requires so many disciplines. Fear of reinjury
is the No. 1 reason people don’t come back from an ACL injury. Who better than a sports psychologist to handle that?” Feigenbaum said. “With our program, basically, if someone is going to have surgery, they have a consult with the dietitian, they have a consult with the psychologist. We do pre-operative care for them in most situations, and then immediately, postsurgery, they’ll also have follow-up appointments and have guided care throughout so we can cover all the aspects that make for complicated care.”
While Dallas has taken advantage of Miami’s new resources for athletes, the hope is that trend will continue.
“You’ve got to put that pride aside. You’ve got to set a goal and if you want something, you’re going to go get it,” Dallas said of his work with Goldstein. “I felt like that was the process that I needed to go through in order for me to achieve what I wanted to achieve, in order for me to help the team.”
Dr. Luis Feigenbaum heads UM’s new Performance, Health and Wellness Department, which was created this fall to help Hurricanes athletes deal with challenges on and off the field.