SPORTS MEDICINE GRADS TIP SCALES TOWARD SUCCESS By Deborah W. Morton
From the lively sidelines of local high school football fields to the imposing courts of university basketball champions to first-class orthopedic surgical suites, graduates of the Mercyhurst Department of Sports Medicine stake their claim. Longtime Sports Medicine Chair Brad Jacobson wants to give them the best possible launching pad for taking their skills wherever they choose to go. Sports Medicine began at Mercyhurst in 1985, leading to nearly 1,000 alumni, 41 of whom received their diplomas this past year. “Our department is the longest-standing sports medicine academic department in the United States and prides itself on providing our students with a robust allied health clinical skill set consistent with our motto, ‘knowledge without application is useless,’” Jacobson said. “In that way, we equip them to provide gold-standard patient care.” In this issue, we profile Mercyhurst alumni who have built the careers of their dreams after getting the best possible start at Mercyhurst. Courting champions: Nick Potter ’01, Greg Beato ’01 When Duke and Virginia Tech met in Brooklyn’s Barclays Center in March, it was a basketball game for the ages. One would claim the Atlantic Coast Conference title, but for Duke’s Blue Devils, it was a chance to secure legendary “Coach K” a league title in his final season. For the Hokies, it was an opportunity to be the spoiler and win the ACC tournament for the first time. In the throes of the hope and hype that Saturday night, two Mercyhurst University Sports Medicine alumni, both Class of 2001, found themselves together on the big stage but in separate corners. In maroon and orange was Greg Beato, a head team physician at Virginia Tech, and in blue and white was Nick Potter, director of High Performance and Sports Science for men’s basketball at Duke. They used the opportunity for a makeshift reunion and even snapped a photo to commemorate the event. Both say they consider their Mercyhurst experience fundamental to establishing the high-profile careers they enjoy today. Both teams emerged winners that season. Virginia Tech upset Duke to win the ACC championship, and Duke advanced to the Final Four. NICK POTTER A Buffalo, New York, native, Potter came to Mercyhurst to play soccer and study Sports Medicine with an emphasis on Athletic Training and Pre-Physical Therapy. “Mercyhurst offered a great combination of the two, plus my family could come watch my games,” he said. He thrived on the sense of community Mercyhurst engenders, and he graduated with the kind of confidence that hard work and commitment promise. “You know, I don’t look back and think, ‘Mercyhurst taught me this great ankle treatment.’ I remember the people, the passion, and the dedication,” he said. “It’s more than school. You live there. It’s your family.”
Nick Potter, left, and Greg Beato reconnect at the ACC title game in New York.
Potter’s family included fellow Sports Med majors, faculty Brad Jacobson and Sue Denny Sweeney ’88, soccer coach John Melody ’90, and Lance Munksgard, Mercyhurst’s own athletic trainer at the time. As one who had his share of injuries, Potter spent many hours under Munksgard’s care. “I probably got to know him more than anyone else,” Potter said. “I admired him. He never got rattled. He was always confident and caring. Even today, I get into a situation and think, ‘How would Lance handle that?’” When he was growing up, Potter’s goal was to work for a high-level athletic program. Duke basketball, he agreed, is certainly all that and more. After graduating from Mercyhurst, Potter attended Duke University School of Medicine, where he earned his doctorate in physical therapy. “I wasn’t the best soccer player at Mercyhurst, but I think if you’d ask John Melody, he’d say nobody tried harder,” Potter said. “I wasn’t the best student either, and I think some people were surprised that I got into Duke. There were definitely smarter people than me, but I was confident in my work ethic.” That work ethic eventually got him his dream job: director of High Performance and Sports Science for men’s basketball at Duke, where he helps his athletes optimize healthy performance. Today’s all- encompassing approach, he noted, is holistic in nature, focusing on biomechanics, sleep, mental health, nutrition, and more. In addition to his role with Duke basketball, Potter provides medical coverage for the USA Olympic Shooting Team. In fact, during a stint in London before the 2012 Olympics, he discovered his wife, Ciara Connolly
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