DP2 program receives praise

by Emily Fletcher | 7/28/11 10:00pm

DP2, funded by an anonymous gift of an undisclosed amount to the athletic department, will begin offering new and enhanced services to athletes at the end of August to provide a "more cutting edge experience," according to Drew Galbraith, senior associate athletic director for peak performance. He emphasized that the program is still in its beginning stages and will evolve as its leaders determine what is needed and what works.

Right now, the department is holding focus groups with student athletes, and collaborating across divisions to better understand where the need is greatest.

The athletic department currently provides strong academic support to its student athletes, but DP2 will integrate those services with athletic and personal resources, Galbraith said.

Improving the athletic performances of all teams and individuals involved in Big Green athletics is a major goal of the new initiative, according to Galbraith.

"That's an absolute goal that we don't hide from," he said. "We want every team to strive for that championship experience."

The program will also enhance student athletes' engagement with campus issues and that ensure athletes understand their responsibilities as high-profile members of the Dartmouth community.

"Strategies for physical and mental wellness will also be integral to the mission of DP2, including new campus initiatives concerning binge drinking and sexual conduct," the release reported. "In addition, the Athletics Department will continue to encourage and facilitate a high level of involvement in community service programs."

The academic portion of the program will focus on improving time management, course selection and the use of office hours, tutors and study groups. Anne Hudak and Donnie Brooks, assistant athletic directors for peak performance, will coordinate academic services with other offices on campus. Faculty advising will still play an important role in the academic resources provided to student athletes, the release said.

DP2 leaders are currently meeting with nutritionists, trainers, head coaches and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center physicians to coordinate the health and fitness aspect of the new program. Resources surrounding injury prevention, rehabilitation, strength training, sports psychology and nutrition will be enhanced, according to the release.

"An increased importance will be placed on rehabilitation methods and access as well as injury prevention, while the athletics training staff, health services and DHMC physicians will collaborate on best practices for delivery of health services to student-athletes," the release said.

Galbraith compared DP2 to the efforts that other schools undertake to best serve and enhance the experiences of student athletes, but emphasized that the program will not be a one-size-fits-all solution.

"What we hope to do is look specifically at the things that impact Dartmouth students and, knowing that Dartmouth students are very intelligent and very engaged already, work to help everyone who walks through these doors reach their full potential," he said. "We shouldn't think we can bring in some consultant and apply some cookie-cutter technique to our campus."

The response from administrators, faculty, students and alumni to the program's announcement has been largely positive and "cautiously optimistic," Galbraith said.

"I appreciate people's skepticism because we want to let people's actions prove to [them] what a great program this can be," he said.

College President Jim Yong Kim expressed his support for the program.

"We think that by bringing together the focus on our student-athletes' academic performance, athletic performance and also on personal areas like leadership and personal wellness, we can not only get them to their highest possible potential as athletes, but prepare them for life in ways that are extremely important," he said in the release.

Cara Vernacchia '13, a member of the track team, said she was excited about the potentially enhanced resources offered by DP2.

"I feel like sometimes our funding for athletic programs is somewhat limited, as compared to other Division I schools," she said. "I think the additional money will help us to make Dartmouth student athletes the best they can be, both academically and athletically."

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