Meet Hap Zarzour

Duke's Director of Athletic Training sits down with TDD's Sam Hovan ...

When I walked into Hap Zarzour's office, I first noticed pictures covered his walls and his bookshelf. The father of three is starting his 21st year in the Duke athletic department, and he said the program was a great place to raise his kids.

"It was awesome," he said. "My youngest son [16 year-old Brian] is here today with one of our strength coach's sons, Coach Stevens over in basketball, with P.J. and they kind of grew up together here running around playing together. They're over playing basketball or doing whatever."

Zarzour, Duke's Director of Athletic Training, told me his oldest son grew up playing football with Grant Hill in the training room.

"Kind of funny, but a great environment for them," he said.

Throughout the interview, Hap kept mentioning the great environment at Duke and said the atmosphere in the athletic program is a part of why he has been here so long. Another part is his passion for helping athletes get healthy and stay that way. His eyes lit up when I asked about his relationships with the players.

"We have a very honest and very close relationship with most of the kids, especially those that have gotten hurt," he said. "Nowadays the athletic trainer becomes kind of the hub of the wheel of their health care for four years, five years, however long they are in school."

He said some of his best memories at Duke are when athletes who were hurt got back on the field. As a trainer, he sees the work the athletes put in to get back out there.

"It's quite a devastating process to an elite athlete when they sustain an injury," he said.

He explained that an important part of the rehab process is helping players feel like they are still in touch with the team. He helps teach players that the rehab process takes time.

"It's a dimmer switch, like on a dining room; it's not a flick switch," he said. "You spend a lot of time making sure that both mentally and physically they [the players] can still assume a role with the team."

Many of the players keep in touch after they graduate. He said he gets texts, Facebook messages, emails and the like when old players come back for Duke games. Hap has been through some lean years with Duke football (he started working at the university in 1992), and he is glad for the recent turnaround.

"Our alumni and our former players are so proud and so excited and so pumped up for this," he said. "You're not embarrassed to be part of Duke football anymore. You can go out in public with your Duke football shirt on and people aren't going to make fun of you."

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