July 8, 2016 -- The Chicago Bulls announced today that the team has hired Chip Schaefer as Director of Sports Performance and Dr. Wendy Borlabi as High Performance Coach, and promoted Shaun Hickombottom to Senior Manager of Player Development and Team Services.
A veteran in the athletic training and sports performance fields, Schaefer returns to Chicago for a second stint with the Bulls having served as the team’s Head Athletic Trainer from 1990-98. Schaefer’s new role with the Bulls will be to implement and integrate a multi-disciplined staff that bridges the sports medicine and sports performance programs. He will oversee athletic training, strength and conditioning, sport psychology and player nutrition. The 2016-17 campaign will mark his 25th season in the NBA, during which time he has contributed to 11 NBA Championship teams (six with Chicago, five with the Los Angeles Lakers). Most recently, he spent the last three seasons with the Sacramento Kings as the team’s Director of Sports Science. While with the Kings, he assisted the sports medicine and athletic training staffs with injury prevention and health maintenance. He also created and implemented the team’s strength and conditioning programs. Following his first term in Chicago, he worked 13 seasons with the Lakers (1986-87, 1999-2011). In his last seven seasons in Los Angeles, he was the team’s Director of Athletic Performance/Player Development; while with the Lakers, he also oversaw the transition of the team’s young players into the NBA, as well as their professional development. In addition to his time in the NBA, Schaefer spent two years as Head Trainer for the U.S. Men’s Ski Team (1984-86), he was the Head Athletic Trainer and Strength Coach at Loyola Marymount for three years (1987-90) and he also worked on staff at the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopedic Clinic. From 2011-13, he was the Assistant Athletics Director for Sports Performance at UC Santa Barbara. Additionally, he has served as the Head Athletic Trainer at Pete Newell’s Big Man Camp and the California Summer Pro Basketball League. He received his Bachelor of Science in Physical Education and Sports Medicine from the University of Utah in 1983 and a Master of Arts in Counseling from Loyola Marymount in 1990; he will complete his Doctorate in Health Science from A.T. Still University in March 2017. Schaefer is a member of the National Athletic Trainer’s Association (NATA) and a certified strength and conditioning specialist. He is also recognized by the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) as a specialist in performance enhancement, corrective exercise and fitness nutrition. A native of Deerfield, Ill., Schaefer and his wife, Andra, have a son, Alec (29), and a daughter, Emily (27).
“The health of our players is of paramount importance and we are constantly looking at ways to put our players in the best possible position to succeed. Upon the conclusion of last season, we felt we needed to reassess certain areas of our athletic performance department,” said Chicago Bulls General Manager Gar Forman. “After much thought and collaboration, with his years of experience and knowledge, we believe the addition of Chip Schaefer will elevate our staff to among the upper echelon in the NBA.”
Dr. Borlabi joins the Bulls after working at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in San Diego since 2009. She comes to Chicago with a background in the development of mental preparation of elite athletes with an emphasis in focus, leadership and performance anxiety. Another area of concentration for Borlabi is to prepare athletes to maintain and sustain performance-based mental focus. While at the Olympic Training Center, she helped train and develop some of the most elite athletic talent in the country in preparation for two Winter Olympics and one Summer Games. Prior to her work with the USOC, Borlabi worked at James Madison University where she was a liaison between the athletics department and the Counseling and Student Development Center. During this time, she established the JMU Sport Psychology program for student athletes, coaches and the athletic department. She then transitioned toward servicing more elite-level organizations by providing performance enhancement training to professional baseball players. She possesses a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Southwestern Oklahoma State University and she earned her Master of Science in Kinesiology with a concentration in Sport Psychology from Georgia Southern University. She also holds a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology with a concentration in Sport Psychology and Exercise Psychology from Argosy University, Phoenix. Born in Accra, Ghana, she was raised in Oklahoma City. She resides in Chicago with her three-year old twins, LB and Scout.
Hickombottom transitions to the Basketball Operations Department after spending the last eight seasons in the team’s Public and Media Relations Department where he worked most recently in the role of Manager of Public and Media Relations. As the team’s Senior Manager of Player Development and Team Services, his primary role will be to serve as a resource of support for the player’s professional, personal and social development, while implementing NBA player development initiatives and programming throughout the year. In his new position, he will also have the responsibility of building strong one-on-one relationships with Bulls players, their families, agents and business associates. Adding to his list of duties, he will work as the team’s traveling secretary and act as a liaison between the Basketball Operations Department and the Business Operations staff. Hickombottom graduated from Marquette University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Advertising. He, and his wife, Courtney, reside in Chicago.