Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Brockport shines the spotlight on hockey alumnus Dave Zeis

The Dallas Stars are onto the next round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs after defeating the defending champion Las Vegas Golden Knights 2-1 in game 7 of the first round. Shout out to the Stars head athletic trainer and SUNY Brockport Class of 1992 graduate Dave Zeis, who you can read more about in this profile posted by the College:


Dave Zeis ’92, a lifelong hockey fan and player, came to Brockport to study physical education and play on the hockey team. But after sustaining a knee injury he attended rehab and began to gain an interest in the field of sports medicine.

More than 30 years after his graduation, Zeis is in his 17th season as Head Athletic Trainer for NHL team the Dallas Stars — and the passion he developed at Brockport is what brought him to this point.

Dave Zeis posing in front of a hockey rink Dave Zeis posing in front of a hockey rink


“​​Brockport was vital in preparing me for what I do now. This is where I learn sports. This is where I learn the techniques. But more importantly, it gave me an avenue to get to this level,” Zeis said. “It was just a big network that really, really panned out to help me get into the professional side of hockey.”

Zeis credits the amount of educational experience he had working with athletes and injuries to the size of SUNY Brockport compared to larger institutions.

“In a lot of these Division I schools, you don’t even work with the athletes. They have hired staff,” Zeis said. “But at a smaller university like Brockport, you’re getting a much more hands-on experience. In my opinion, it’s much more exciting.”

Zeis initially  worked in the East Coast Hockey League, followed by some time in minor league hockey with the Rochester Americans. There, he served as an assistant athletic trainer until he moved into the major league in 2007 for his first season with the Dallas Stars. That very same season he was promoted to Head Athletic Trainer — the position he holds to this day.

“You always want to work at your highest level, no matter what your job is, right? So, for us in hockey, it’s the National Hockey League,” Zeis said. “I’ve worked in the world championships with Team USA. Working with the best of the best players is something I take pride in.”

Zeis recalled the 2022 incident in which Damar Hamlin, wide receiver for the Buffalo Bills, collapsed mid-game of cardiac arrest. This major event in the world of athletic training made an often-unseen job visible as Bill’s Athletic Trainer, Denny Kellington, gained widespread praise for his quick action.

“We actually had a similar event in Dallas about nine years ago. We had a player go into cardiac arrest and it actually helped design some of our protocols in the NHL,” Zeis said. “I think I’ve had three incidents that have been life-threatening situations. A lot of the things that we do are repetitive so we can be prepared. And then when something happens, everything falls into place. That’s where your skills and your tools and your education really come in.”