Seek­ing edge

Hur­ri­canes high on pro­gram’s new health, well­ness de­part­ment

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Sports - By Christy Cabr­era Chiri­nos

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

pro­gram.”

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.”

COUR­TESY UM ATH­LET­ICS

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.

MICHAEL REAVES/GETTY

MICHAEL LAUGH­LIN/SUN SENTINEL

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