Logged 20 years between Nebraska and Wisconsin athletics before going private in 2001 to start my consulting firm, Sports Alliance Inc. that broadened my sport exposures to Olympic, Pro and Military athletes.
• Strength Staff UNL Athletics ‘82
• Strength Staff Wisconsin
• Sports Nutrition Director UNL
• Started Private Practice ’01-Present
I knew nutrition was going to be my direction from the time I arrived at the University of Nebraska back in January of '82, but back in those days you had to have some dual utility (strength or medicine) to find employment, so I tested the waters under Boyd Epley (UNL Strength Coach) and got traction after sending him this letter (yes from a typewriter). Epley had piles of similar letters, but it was the nutrition ambitions that pulled this letter out of the pile and began what is now a 30 plus year adventure working in athletics (30 years in '11).
Legendary ATC George Sullivan sent me to my first ACSM meeting as a frosh in college to learn how to do skin folds on Husker athletes. We stand on the shoulders of folks like George who took the time to invest in a bunch of wet behind the ears kids. Pay it forward all the time George ;)
So at this Sugar Bowl vs. LSU back in '87, Jerry Schmidt, Randy Gobel, Mike Arthur, Boyd Epley, Dave Ellis and Dave Kennedy. Schmidt has won a title at Florida, Notre Dame and OU. Kennedy was at Ohio State and Texas A & M and is now with the Tampa Bay Bucs. We all worked full time plus and managed to pull off college at the same time as undergraduates! Not sure how we did it with Epley playing the task master role. Mike Arthur was a real mentor to us all and is still over Olympic sports at UNL. Gobel is over facilities still at UNL.
So while I was cutting teeth with the Huskers strength program in the '80s we had a lot of alums in the NFL training with us in the offseason. On the left, Dave Rimington and on the far right is Dean Steinkuhler. Rimington won the Outland Trophy, given to the nation's top interior offensive or defensive lineman, in 1981 and 1982, and is its only two-time winner. He also won the Lombardi Award in 1982 and placed fifth in the balloting for the Heisman Trophy that same year. He and Orlando Pace are the only three-time winners in the Outland/Lombardi category. Steinkuhler attended the University of Nebraska, where he won the Outland Trophy, given to the nation's top offensive lineman, in 1983. Steinkuhler also won the Lombardi Award in 1983, marking the second consecutive year a Nebraska player had won that award as Rimington had also won the Lombardi in 1982. Nebraska is the only team that has had consecutive winners of both of these awards. Steinkuhler is one of eight Nebraska winners of the Outland Trophy and one of five Nebraska winners of the Lombardi Award.
So the three full-time Ast. Strength Coaches at the start of my time at Wisconsin Athletics were myself, John Dettman and Steve Myrland (not pictured). Dett and I held down the fort in the McClain Weight Room and Myrland covered the old weight room under the stadium at the time for some of the Olympic sports. In either case the weight rooms were under ground so you came in when it was dark and left when it was dark! This was before we knew what was going on with season affect disorder and Vitamin D! Didn't know what a real winter looked like until I got to Wisconsin. Didn't kill us, must have made us stronger.
When Barry Alvarez went looking for staff during his first year at Wisconsin Athletics one place he was comfortable hiring from was Nebraska Athletics where he played himself. Barry had a former Nebraska Football athlete hired (Scott Raridon) to staff out his strength staff who came sniffing for my help and I made the move to what would be as close to being a head strength coach as I would ever be while working in the collegiate ranks. All while juggling all the nutrition and body composition responsibilities at the same time! Was a big time grind, but after a first ever Rose Bowl victory against UCLA in '93 it was my ticket to come back to Nebraska Athletics and take the reins in a one of a kind, full-time Director of Sports Nutrition role!
So the day after the Rose Bowl, the winner use to get to go to the Playboy Mansion and connect with Hugh Hefner and his staff. Classic Hef comes down in some stylish PJ's for pics. My wife Delynn and I took this pic in the AM sunshine. My guess.... this is not happening any longer ;)
The group of athletes that Barry Alvarez and his staff recruited into Madison went into the Rose Bowl against home team UCLA and won with a QB named Darrell Bevell (soon to be NFL Head Coach). It was a bunch of tough Chicago kids mixed in with some big Wisconsin frames that came straight at you! Was a remarkable accomplishment in Barry's fourth years at head coach at Wisconsin. Enrollment went up, faculty recruiting went up, foundation giving went up along with athletic department revenues. Made me realize very quickly the economic impact of a winning team can have on a state economy! The Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin at the time.... Clinton Department of Health and Human Services, Dona Shalala! She actually got the ball rolling on the whole deal by hiring Barry and helping get more minority athletes into that not so easy University. And the rest is all history with Barry going on to take the Wisconsin AD job that he still holds. We had our fist child in Madison so Wisco will always be a special stop for us. Started flying back into Madison to speak to the athletes on nutrition as a consultant back in '06 for a few years until they finally retained some local Sports RDs to engaged their athletes. On Wisconsin!
After starting at Nebraska Athletics, moving up to Wisconsin Athletics for four years, I returned to Nebraska Athletics in a full-time Sports Nutrition position in '93 for what turned out to be the start of one of the most dominant runs in college football history with Dr. Tom Osborne. Tom truly had a vision for innovation which included making sure his athletes were properly fueled. We hit the ground running first year back defeating Miami in their own Orange Bowl for the first of three National Championships. Tom went on to be a Nebraska State Senator before returning to take the reins as the Athletic Director at Nebraska before finally retiring in 2013.
After the first National Title in against Miami in the Orange Bowl in '94 we put on a clinic in the Fiesta Bowl against Florida in '95 with a squad that to this day is one of the most dominant teams I have ever been around! Extraordinary teams leaders who flat out love to play the game and played hard for Dr. Tom and his staff. They expected to win at home or on the road and that is just what they did, going undefeated start to finish, against an SEC team that we were not suppose to be able to run with (skill vs. strength). Don't ever count out the power of a bunch of united spirits! A tough nucleus of Nebraska kids with some imported skill athletes that truly had one each others backs!
As special as all of the three national titles were while at Nebraska, the most special one was the one we pulled out of our hats for Dr. Tom on his final year of coaching at Nebraska. We were playing some guy named Peyton Manning from the University of Tennessee in the Orange Bowl (luckily he had a bad ankle that game) and won with our home spun QB, Scott Frost (OC for the U of OR now). It was a fitting end for an instant hall of fame coach who we all showed up to work for daily with the hope that we would not let him down. Dr. Tom was that kind of leader that inspired you to over achieve, without ever raising his voice or dropping a bunch of F bombs. Sending him off with another title after 25 years at the helm of Nebraska Football was indeed a very special way for all of us to say thank you to a man we can never repay ;)
What an honor to work for Dr. Tom....
Osborne, who won 255 games and three national championships in 25 seasons before retiring after the 1997 season.
Osborne coached for 25 seasons at Nebraska, earning three national championships and 13 conference titles. He led the Cornhuskers to a bowl appearance in every season and broke Bryant's record of 24 straight postseason trips. Osborne retired following the 1997 season with a 255-49-3 record, the fifth-best winning percentage (.836) in Division I-A history.
In his final five season, NU went 60-3 and won national titles in 1994, 1995 and 1997. He coached 47 first-team All-Americans who won a total of 55 honors. He also guided a pair of Heisman Trophy winners, six Outland winners, one Butkus winner and one Johnny Unitas winner.
A member of the College Football Hall of Fame, Osborne followed his 36-year career as a football coach by winning a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in Nebraska's third district in 2000. He served three terms in Congress, before being named Nebraska's interim athletic director on Oct. 16.
Our old head trainer at Nebraska, George Sullivan who had a guy with this really old camera that basically did what the iPhone panorama setting does now, but this things was on an old wood stand and it was made of wood and all it was missing was some flash powder, but it could take a picture of the line starting at one end and finish at the other end as it gradually moved. The guys at the start were already walking away when the guys at the end were being photographed. Anyway this old tradition captured each person on the team in a unique and very memorable fashion and I am glad I bought one of these each year. Putting a name with the faces is not that easy as the years pass. This helps ;) Once old George came up to me after I started to do all the menus at the training table and made mention that we didn't have any beef at the meal and was very serious. It was lunch time and we had some hard workouts going so I think I pulled the normal burger at every meal thing out for some faster digesting stuff like fish fillets and some skinless chicken. Old George reminded me that for years Nebraska ranchers had been donating a side of beef to athletics that we could convert into the cut we wanted via a processor in the area and that it would be a good idea to avoid not having any more meals where beef was not represented! I got the message on that loud and clear and had suffered the wrath of one of George big Irish fingers jammed in my cheek years back. Quick learner I was.... luv ya George ;)
It's not often that you attend a retirement ceremony for someone that becomes a highlight of your working career, but that is the way I felt after attending Dr. Tom's retirement gathering in Lincoln NE for former staff and players. It was an invite only affair, one of many events in Tom's honor in basketball arenas full fundraising focused tributes. But this one was different. This one was just a few decades of folks whom along with Dr. Tom were part of an era of consistency that has yet to be eclipsed. To even be recognized by Dr. Tom as part of the innovations that characterized his leadership was flattering and the kind of pat on the back Tom was always so good at dishing out for the people around him who sacrificed for his athletes. It was all about out working the competition at Nebraska and I think Tom's support for Sports Nutrition as a full-time support service set the bar for all that is evolving today. A true advocate for the spiritual, mental and physical welfare of ALL of his athletes (scholarship or walk-on)..... Dr. Tom Osborne
Was great to catch up with a few decades of the Nebraska Football Family that worked and played for Dr. Tom Osborne. Invite only affair that reunited many of us for the first time in a decade or more. More faces and fun than should be legal in one night, right before the Spring Game which I unfortunately could not stay for. Some quality time with Dr. Tom before the event up in his office and at the event with his wonderful and always classy wife Nancy. Class act those two, Nancy and Tom. People you can feel really good about working for. The kind of people who put their relationship with people.... FIRST! Tom always taught us to treat all his athletes the same, scholarship or walk-on and we did. I didn't even want to know who was on scholarship and when you have up to 220 athletes around during winter conditioning, who could keep track anyway! You will be missed Dr. Tom ;)
Osborne retired following the 1997 season with a 255-49-3 record, the fifth-best winning percentage (.836) in Division I-A history. In his final five season, NU went 60-3 and won national titles in 1994, 1995 and 1997. He coached 47 first-team All-Americans who won a total of 55 honors. He also guided a pair of Heisman Trophy winners, six Outland winners, one Butkus winner and one Johnny Unitas winner. A member of the College Football Hall of Fame, Osborne followed his 36-year career as a football coach by winning a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in Nebraska's third district in 2000 where he was a co-sponsor for the 2002 Anabolic Steroid Control Act (read below). He served three terms in Congress, before being named Nebraska's interim athletic director on Oct. '07.
No single person has had a greater impact on my own career success than Dr. Tom Osborne. Our mission under Tom was simple:
• Work hard, be thorough, professional, and loyal.
• Operate with integrity.
• Treat everyone with respect.
• Promote the value of education with our athletes.
• Maximize our athletes' character and talent.
• Promote unity, pride and confidence in the athletes.
Tom Osborne '95
Like it says on the side of Memorial Stadium...
“Not the victory but the action;
Not the goal but the game;
In the deed the glory”
Imagine my first year at Nebraska '82 and we are playing Miami in the Orange Bowl and TO goes for 2 and the win with Turner Gill at the helm. Tom was suddenly the nice guy who could not win the big one. Was a lot of fun to come back to Nebraska in '93 after my Wisconsin days only to go back to the Orange Bowl against Miami and win TO's first of three National Titles. It's a story of perseverance and consistency that few will ever replicate in college football. At least not with the class that TO did it with. It was an Era of Excellence!
Working in athletics is all about being hands on with the athletes and as a Sports RD that means being around when the athletes are fueling at the training table, at practice or in the weight room as well as on the road incidental to competition. During my early years with Nebraska Athletics '88ish, before I went to Wisconsin and came back, I was eating lunch at our training table as a young dietetics student working in the weight room and knew that we had a particularly challenging day of long sprints coming that would be a challenge for the football athletes to endure with much chow in their stomachs. So when I asked the nice German gal over the food why she was feeding us salami, bologna, braunschweiger and a host of other desiccated meats before we trained, I got the big "go away kid, they love it" brush off. But later that afternoon as we finished some station work with some 110's in the old indoor dirt floor track (mushroom gardens) under Memorial Stadium the line formed against the wall with dozens of athletes hurling up their lunches in front of Osborne. As I came across the finish line running the sprints with the team, Osborne looked at the line and looked at me and politely asked if I could start taking a look at the menus that were being planned for the team so we could avoid this problem in the future and that is how I got my first real traction as a young dietetics student at the UNL Training Table! I was already doing the body comps for the football team (skin folds) and some education, but the training table was under Sports Medicine (not Strength) at the time and ran on autopilot with the folks for the dorms authoring the menus and managing the service. The great sausage fiasco I called it. Sometime you just have to be lucky ;)
So after watching athlete eat for a decade it finally hit me that if I grouped and merchandised the food in an order that corresponded with the nutrition education the athlete were receiving that possibly we could get better outcomes when it came to the meals the athletes were building. I organized my first version of a three step system while I was at the University of Wisconsin (Sports Cafe Training Table) and really brought it to life when I returned to Nebraska Athletics where a solid infrastructure already existed, but lacked the organization to impact the quality and quantity of what the athletes selected. I trademarked the three step system, Fueling Tactics® and it's the most most knocked off athletic fueling system on the planet which I find flattering. It was always about helping athletes endure the grind of athletics (less down time, more energy, faster recovery) and one that I share freely and am paid well to implement now as a consultant to teams all over the planet.
So UNL was good about trying to help me endure the grind of covering all that Football demanded (performance and recruiting) allowing me to hire a full-time assistant (Lisa Kopecky, second from the left front row). Had a few graduate student and under graduate paid spots too (minimum wage). Still that was a solid staff for 2000 standards! Only James Harris went on to stay in the business as Chip Kelley's guy first at University of Oregon and now in a High Performance Director position at the Eagles. We all worked hard to help our UNL Student Athletes outwork the competition! Lindsey Remmers has the reins now. I only came back in an advisory mode once in '08 when Brian Lehman had the Sports RD reins. Visit when I can to see facility evolutions and have helped them on some personnel recruiting from time to time. Bled red for the Huskers for a long, long time. Always hope the best for them as I can never repay them for taking a chance on me back in '82.
The good folks who worked in the UNL Training Table were on student housings payroll (dorms), but worked hard for athletics. Was a process evolving from dorm standards to a fueling system over time (Fueling Tactics®) when I came back to UNL from Wisconsin, but it all worked out. Art McWilliams was the manager when I left in '01 (front middle row). His assistant Dale Kruse (back row fourth from left) runs the ship now. Love to see UNL still taking fueling seriously after all these years. Dale runs a solid ship working closely with Sports RD Lindsey Remmers.
So oddly enough, the first college that called me to consult after I left Nebraska Athletics..... Oklahoma! My old college roommate from Nebraska was the Strength Coach for OU, Jerry Schmidt and had been hitting me up for help on menus for their bowl games prior to me leaving Nebraska so I guess it was a natural opportunity that was evolving before I went private July 2001. I learned very quickly that the pool of skill athletes at OU was very different from UNL! Lots of skill athletes and virtually no walk-on program. The start of my post Nebraska wake-up call on how success could come with very different operational credos! And OU was just the tip of the iceberg of college consulting jobs that began to snowball year after year across the US that I had little expectations for. I assumed the bulk of my consulting work would come from the Pro ranks, but like so many new business, you don't know what will sell until you open the doors. That was over a decade ago and I am still amazed at who is on the other end of the phone when it rings. I owe everyone who has ever given me an opportunity in athletics more than I could ever hope to repay. Thank you all, especially Bobby Stoops and Jerry Schmidt at OU for breaking the college consulting ice ;)
My old roommate from early '80s, Nebraska strength days, Jerry Schmidt, was one of the first hires that Bobby Stoops made when he arrived at OU. Bobby hired Jerry as his director of Strength and Conditioning before he hired his Offensive and Defensive Coordinators! Jerry is by far one of the best movement focused Strength and Conditioning Coaches in the collegiate business and a natural to wind up in the NFL. At the next level, it's not about putting a bunch of size on athletes as it is keeping them healthy, mobile, strong and motivated! Jerry was always a supporter of fueling to support the recovery necessary all that hard work that goes on in the weight room and on the field of play.
Oklahoma was not just full of skilled athletes, but some of the biggest frames I had ever assessed, including the stump pullers up in Wisconsin! This picture is of big Phil Loadholt, now in the NFL. A head taller than everyone at the Combine in '08, but lean and mobile for a big guy. You really don't have a choice at OU because the football strength coach, Jerry Schmidt are mobility experts first, over size and as a result they keep their athletes very lean! That and it's hotter than Africa in Norman during summer conditioning! I have met many Phil Loadholt's now, that can legitimately play at 350 lbs. Athletes are only getting larger and one of my jobs is to help track growth and weight carrying capacity of athletes. I can assure you they are getting larger these power athlete frames. Assessing and scoring weight carrying capacity of frames is one of my unique practice services that I passed on publishing as part of my graduate work to distinguish my private practice services. It's all part of my Fueling Tactics® system.
So another call I got the day I left Nebraska Athletics was from another former Husker, Craig Bohl who was the new head coach at North Dakota State University. NDSU was transitioning from D2 to D1AA and Craig wanted to set a Div. 1 standard of operations as much as possible out of the gates. Two FCS National Championships later (possibly three by this Saturday) Craig and his staff and done just that! So I will be helping Craig with his transition from NDSU to D1A Wyoming next. And this is how it works. There is no yellow pages for hiring people who can impact the roster of a team, playing a support service role (strength, medicine, nutrition). You go with what and who you know can get the job done and I have been lucky to have a thread of Nebraska related connections who picked me up as a consultant after leaving Nebraska Athletics back in '01. Adapting my advice and message to the rate limiting circumstances unique to each program was an acquired skill along the way. What we were doing back in the '90s at Nebraska was that far ahead of the curve that I continually find myself trying to adapt to the fact that most are not ready to operate at that level still today (mainly due to budget).
So the FCS (not FBS) trophies are not as big and don't have a bunch of crystal on top of them, but just as sweet none the less! Strength Coach Jim Kramer at NDSU is part of the fabric of the football team that played and won a 3rd consecutive FCS National Title '14! Jim stayed at NDSU with the Defensive Coordinator who took the coaching reins after Craig Bohl and others move on to Wyoming. That is great news for NDSU Football! Jim is that kind of impact player who, to a man, is credited annually by the Seniors for helping them achieve on and off the field. Keep up the great work Jim. You really do make a difference!
Only one other program has won three consecutive FCS Championship (App State). With the Senior class NDSU had coming back and the QB they had at the helm (Brock Jensen), it was no surprise to see Bison run the FBS playoff tables after a perfect regular season! Even after they knew that their head coach was headed to take the Wyoming job along with the majority of the staff, they did it! Heck of a year for NDSU beating KSU Manhattan KS, ESPN College Gameday coming to Fargo on a perfect fall day for what looked like a Bourbon Street party. Great finish for the Bizzzon as they like to say up in ND! Very proud of these hard nosed kids who often are called on to bag sand when the Red River floods in the spring instead of practicing.
So the student athletes at NDSU don't have a training table or sophisticated supplement program (money), but they do work hard and love their sports. And after a hard workout they breakout recovery beverages like chocolate milk they get from the NDSU Campus Dairy! Long before it was fashionable to use Chocolate Milk as a recovery beverage, NDSU and schools like Wisconsin Athletics were leaning on relationships with campus dairy's for a low ball cost on some chocolate milk! We are talking early '90s at Wisconsin and when I showed up at NDSU in '01! That whole Chocolate Milk campaign by the Dairy Council didn't start until after '06 (will confirm that date). I like working with athletes who show up everyday and go hard without all the trimmings that come with D1A athletics. While they deserve more, they don't have an attitude about it. They didn't have it all in high school so operating with modest support services and resources in college is not a big stretch for them. Still you think feeding would be a fundamental that all athletic departments would strive to fulfill, no matter what level of NCAA athletics we are talking. They are a good cause these student-athletes. Sports RDs are in the trenches with them as much as anyone, helping them navigate the not so healthy college lifestyle waters ;)
So no real training table means we have to educate our tails off in low D1A or D1AA settings. The athletes are as vulnerable as any student on a college campus to default to a happy hour food supply after they move out of the dorms after their Frosh year. Lack of sleep and alcohol are always in play as is weed, pain killers and stimulants. We are very much concerned about the vulnerability that these athlete face during invasive phases of training under these circumstances. All athlete deserve to be fed and have that food supply under the management of a full-time Sports RD!
NDSU has made a few versions of this posters to help engage the athletes with the topic of nutrition and to act as an outreach tool with the state high school athletes. Very cool!
Home games at NDSU are something to see in the Fargo Dome (good thing they have a dome). Great fans who remind me of Husker fans of old in that they are use to seeing their team win! I have to wonder if a move from D1AA to D1A is still not in the cards for NDSU. Three FCS Titles seems to have set the stage for some serious discussions on that topics. Could see them in the Mountain West for sure. Strength & Conditioning Coach Jim Kramer is the cornerstone of the NDSU Football teams success!
After Tom Osborne retired from coaching I worked with Frank Solich who took the reins at Nebraska for a couple of years before I went private in '01. Caught up again with Frank when he took the Ohio U job in '03 and watched Frank ramp that program up in the MAC to one of being consistently competitive! The resources for the athletes in the MAC are like D1AA even though it is D1A. Frank and his staff of many former Nebraska athletes deserve a great deal of respect for what they have accomplished. God bless ya Frank!
Athens Ohio is not an easy place to recruit! So the accomplishments that Frank Solich and his staff have accomplished since arriving in '03 are nothing short of remarkable! Some big stump puller frames in the region to work with too!
While I typically do team education on nutrition, adulteration and body composition issues in a setting where I can use visuals to reinforce the message, often you have to paint some word pictures with a group of athletes in a setting that only offers what you can must up in their minds eye. And often with little notice that you are going to be addressing the team! Being good on your feet with athletes is what it's all about. Being able to engage them with a dialed in message and being able to spot when an athlete is ready to learn. Those coach-able moments when sized upon really add up over a year and this is why you really need to have a full-time Sports RD around.
Got pulled into the University of Arizona to work with football when Mike Stoops took the job from Oklahoma. Also knew his strength coach from Oklahoma (Corey Edmond). That also spread to working with Lute Olson with basketball and some overall athletic department education. Mike is back at OU as D Coordinator and Lute has retired, but I will have to say I really admired Lute. He was very much Tom Osborne like in the way he carried himself with his athletes and carried the entire athletic department on the revenue front. The math doesn't work without football winning for an athletic department that size. Big party school (like Madison) and is a real factor on offseson workout progress due to impaired recovery. You can't do what everyone around you is doing as a collegiate athlete.... especially at his place!
Was a regular with Boston College Football while Tom O'Brien was the head football coach at BC and followed him to the NC State after that. Knew his Strength Coach well, Todd Rice from my Wisconsin days where Todd started out as a GA with us in the weight room. Really like the kids at BC in general. Tough and smart! They get it the first time you coach it ;)
While in working with Tom O'Brien's football athletes at BC, my USA Hockey bones lead me over to meet the legendary BC Hockey Coach, Jerry York. I would put Jerry York up with guys like Tom Osborne and Lute Olson as leaders and Hall of Fame Coaches. Eventually my work with hockey led me to some work with BC Hoops. If you can have an impact you stick and proliferate with coaches in sports. They are the real innovative force in athletics who push their admin to evolve.
Ast. Hockey Coach at the time, Brad Berry was the one who pulled me in to work with UND Hockey. Dean Blais was the head coach at the time. The new rink had recently opened and was a bar setting facility for it's day in the college hockey ranks. Brad moved on to coach up in Canada and Blais is now at University of Nebraska Omaha. My work with USA Hockey coaching education was ramping up about this time and would take off after I moved to Colorado Springs in '04 where USA Hockey DPG is based.
This was a one stop education opportunity when Jim Tressel was the head coach at Ohio State. Tressel's agent is Stoops and Belichick's agent and so it was a referral via Neal Cornrich. Jim was great and seemed amazed that I could hold the attention of his team for 90 minutes which is pretty much the limit for anyone. Lots of pictures and here is how the Pros do it helps keep college athletes engaged. Thought Jim got screwed as he was a very solid citizen and influence over that team.
Al Groh brought me in to work with football because of my work with the Patriots and his connections with Belichick and agent Neil Cornrich. To UVA's credit they made a move on hiring a full-time Sports RD and found a Veteran in Rob Skinner from GA Tech. Rob went on to work with the Navy Seals and now is with the Red Skins! The Sports RD at UVA is now Randy Bird and he has a full-time assistant! Good for UVA Admin to set the bar early!
Amazingly the USAFA is in eye shot of my home in Colorado Springs and yet my touches with them have been limited at best. When we moved to Colorado Springs in '04, then coach Fisher DeBerry immediately brought me over to do some education with the football team as he use to come visit Nebraska athletics all the time where he would spend some time in my office visiting. Quickly I learned that their is no athletic department at USAFA, just the Wing, in that everyone is treated the same. Few accommodations are made for supplemental feeding of the athletes to support their extra calorie requirements beyond some grab and go items at meals in the main chow hall (Mitchell Hall) which thank goodness has a wonderful Sports RD in place full-time. After Fisher retired, the new head football coach reached out to me to help him staff a vacant Strength Coach position which I assisted with on the recruitment of Matt McGettigan. Matt's brother played football for us at Wisconsin and he was between jobs so it all worked out. Stay in touch with my contact here and swing by to say hello, but functionally not much we can do until they treat the student athletes in the Wing a little different when it comes to fueling and ease some of the size limits they have on them (so they fit in a cockpit of a plane). Great run through the wall kids!
Was hauling in a Bod Pod from the Riekes Center (www.riekes.org) to test Body Comps and Frames on Santa Clara hoops as well as doing nutrition education. Hoops generates the revenue at Santa Clara, but not much in the way of resources for the athletes, like you would see at D1AA or D2. On a campus like this the dorms is the feeding option for the student athletes. Some dorms are like a trip back in time to stainless steel and lunch ladies with hairnets pushing green jello. Other are pretty progressive with all you can eat programs which work well for athletes. Most dorms are a challenge year after year for all students. By design they are meant to keep athletes pacified for a year or two until they move off campus. Athletes need a more progressive approach to fueling that the vast majority of dorms can deliver.
Tom O'Brien and his strength coach, Todd Rice pulled me in with them after they relocated from Boston College. Unique setting at NC State Football. Stadium is off campus on a State Fair Grounds with all the FB offices, weight room, dining, medicine and academics built into the stadium. Reminds me of an NFL set up, but for College! Creates some logistical challenges for the student to move from campus a few blocks away to the FB stadium, but very doable. New AD didn't have O'Brien's back (like so many, she had her guy in mind). OB's Bowl record is one of the best in the business, but the business ultimately got him (as it does most coaches). NC State finally did make a move on a full-time Sports RD after several consultant. Good for them!
The strength staff working with CC Hockey initially engaged me to do some education with the CC Hockey Team back in '07, but Sports Medicine has been the one who has kept me engaged with some turnover on the Strength side of things. In addition to education with the team I have done some meals incidental to competition assessment for the team. Hope as an athletic department they engage a full-time Sports RD at some point, but hockey is the only D1A sport operationally.
Got bless Tim Whitehead for somehow finding a way to bring me up to Maine for years until he moved on. Watched Tim pull together trips that were focused on helping hockey, but eventually spread to helping football and then all sports with some annual Men and Women's education sessions. One coach makes a difference, not just for his or her team, but the entire athletic department where the department admin itself lacks the vision or resources to make things happen. Tim even engaged a smaller college down the road, Colby College with a solid hockey tradition. Now Tim is at a history NH Prep School called Union Academy.
Knew the AD from Wisconsin days (Joel Maturi) and the strength staff from OU work (Will Peoples and Mark Hill). Was a short run for the strength staff with Brewster at the helm of the football team, but they landed on their feet with Kevin Wilson at IU. I just go where I am needed ;)
Got pulled int by the USF Strength Coach, Ronnie McKeefrey (now with Bengals) to work with the USF Administration on some long term vision of what could and should be on a rapidly growing campus that needs an athletic focused training table and full-time Sports RD. Some shake ups with their head FB Coach slowed things down last time I checked (fiscal limits), but they get it and will evolve in time.
Got pulled into the University of Arkansas to do some athletic department wide nutrition education which I typically knock out in three separate groups (male, female and football). One of the strength staff members was responsible for recruiting me in for a couple of years. Then all hell broke loose when their football coach had a little motorcycle accident.
Met Kevin Wilson at Oklahoma where he was the Offensive Coordinator prior to taking the IU job in '10. Have also worked with his strength staff at OU and UMN (Mark HIll and Will Peoples). First thing we did was get a Veteran Sports RD hired. I still go in to evaluate frames on Football and Basketball. Kevin and his staff already has the program showing some signs of life.
Got a call from the D Coordinator for Clemson who I knew from Oklahoma (Brent Venables) who wanted me to connect with his head coach, Dabo Swinney on helping evolve the nutrition program which resulted in them hiring a full-time Sports RD. Really enjoyed time with Dabo. He is going to be around for a long time with all his enthusiasm!
Know the strength staff at the University of Montana from NDSU work (Charlie Wodia). Typically go in and do some frame and body comp assessment and education for various teams and general male and female frosh. orientation. Yes, I do work with female athletes ;)
Swing in to do some life skills nutrition education with Montana State annually. One of my son's is now attending the University in Bozeman so it's a welcome stop to work and say hello.
So the strength coach who left the University of Maine (Terry O'Neil) made a move to Yale Hockey and once again my phone rang to come in and help get things rolling. The revenue sports at most school drive innovation in weak areas where support services are lacking. Where there should be a full-time Sports RD and training table..... there is not. Hopefully we will see NCAA feeding rules deregulated. This will drive innovation on the fueling side of the equation at the NCAA ranks. No where else in sports do we have our hands tied when it comes to feeding by rate limiting rules. This is not unique to Yale, but the cost of feeding athletes is what spawned the feeding rules into existence in the first place. All athletes, scholarship or walk-on's deserve to be fed!
With a dominate performance the focused Senior class of '14 led the Bison to a third consecutive FCS National Title with a undefeated season and playoff record! Fitting end to the Bohl era at NDSU which I watched evolve from year one when Craig pulled me in to work with a rag tag group of kids who didn't really want to be around in the summer back in '02. What an evolution of that program went thru painstaking year after year to become what it is today. You have to be dedicated to and love the process of athletics to endure it. But like so many who reflect back on it, what they learned along the way helped them survive much worse that life can deal you after your days in athletics are over. During tough times you can always reflect back on how you have been thru worse and must the resolve to push forward. That is the real outcome of athletics exposures. That and a health dose of get shit done attitude that spawns leaders who are willing to stick their necks out and take charge. I am a fan of the athletic process for sure ;)
Will transition up to the University of Wyoming with Craig Bohl from NDSU to help him get that program focused on developing some diamonds out of the rough. Know that approach well from all my years at Nebraska with our walk-on athletes. The late bloomers that no one had on their recruiting radar. A strong walk-on program, with a strong commitment to a summer and winter conditioning program and year round feeding is the key to filling these frames out in a functional manner. Once again I was called upon to help identify and recruit the head strength coach for this job and will eventually do the same to place a full-time Sports RD. Jackie Barcal is current Sports RD intern who has a real shot at the full-time job when it manifest in '15.
Adam Korzun left US Ski and Snowboard to take the reins at University of Oregon post James Harris and so I owed Adam a visit. Had been trying to catch him in Park City with USSA, but worked out to see the finished football facilities that were being built in '12. The folks that work for Phil Knight sure know hot to put on the polish and Adam is building a staff and a story at Oregon that is going to be hard to top! More on this wonderful combination of Sports RDs, High Performance and Sports Culinary in time. When Adam is ready to share all that he has cooking..... well, Aug. '14 Adam made a move to the Packers after his patience ran out with the compensation talks stalling at OR. Adam was on my short list of Sports RDs who could hit the ground running with the Packers and the new training table I put in, just waiting for a set of skill comparable to Adam's. Bad for Oregon athletics and a big time get for the Packers!
Very nice of Broncos Sports RD Bryan Snyder to work with the University of Wyoming Aug. '14 on a deal they couldn't refuse on the Broncos old training table buffet equipment that was just the order for upstart Wyoming Athletics in the post NCAA feeding deregulation era. The cost of feeding athletes for NCAA schools is one that will be fully realized over the next five years and many schools lack the basic infrastructure to do any real feeding where the food is made and served onsite vs. trucked in from a catered solution (aging chow). Wyoming FB Coach Craig Bohl made it clear that feeding was a priority for a development focused program like the Cowboys FB team and put Sports RD Jackie Barcal and Strength Coach Zach Duval on the job of making sure things evolved in the right direction in a hurry with me fanning the visionary flames and making connections like this one with the Broncos to speed things up. Collaboration between Sports RDs at this level is a relatively new things. Kind of like donating organs as one old training table dies out to make way for a new one..... another training table is born. Very much enjoy this kind of dot connecting.
Pretty cool to see the winning tradition at NDSU continue after previous coach Craig Bohl departed for the University of Wyoming after a third consecutive FCS National Title after the '13 season. The new staff and starting QB picked right back up where they left off by winning an unprecedented fourth consecutive FCS National Title in '14! New head coach Chris Kileman has credited a great deal of the transitional success to the leadership of Head Strength & Conditioning Coach Jim Kramer. Bison Illustrated did a nice story on Jim and his staff which included my work with NDSU Athletics over the last decade plus as a consultant. New AD Matt Larsen also seems to have some vision of what should and could be at NDSU for facility and support service evolution. People of North Dakota should be very proud of what they have going in Fargo!
So oddly enough, while working at the University of Wisconsin, I was approached by some alumni football athletes who had been recruited by the skipper of Stars & Stripes (Buddy Melges). I didn't know squat about the yachting world, but did my best to help and we were flown out to watch the team win on the team boat that follows the race. I didn't know what the filthy rich looked like until that day. The global yacht crowd, their boats with helicopters on them. Holy cow! I was a state employee working in a cave (under ground weight room 14 hours a day). But that was the end of my work with the yachting crowd and I would never consider this Olympic work... it was Pro money all the way! Cool exposure, but my future was with ground and ice based power sports in the US.
My first MLB consulting gig happened before I left Nebraska athletics, back when Vern Gambetta was over athletic development for the entire White Sox organization. Was a very casual visit, mostly inservice stuff with Vern's staff and some of the Medical staff. They were great and I learned very quickly that life outside of college athletics was very different, but that was just my first taste of the growth that awaited if I was ever bold enough to leave the comfort of my collegiate focused career. Have stayed in touch with Vern over the decades and spoke at his GAIN Apprentorship conference which last five days annually on Rice's campus. Keep up the great work Vern!
The first trip I took to work with Pro athletes after going private was down to the Kansas City Royals after getting a call from their Strength Coach, Tim Maxey. MLB and Tim Maxey have been steady customers for over a decade now as you will see. Tim left the Royals in '02 to head back too him home state of Ohio and work with the Indians.
So the Strength Coach, Tim Maxey brought me in to work with the big league clubhouse (especially to case manage CC's body comp). So I would say Tim taught me as much about working with MLB organiztions as anyone. Top to bottom, MLB Organizations are as unique a sport culture to navigate as any I have been exposed to in sports. The have been doing business for 100 plus years and as you can imagine, change doesn't come easy! MLB has taught me to be.... patient ;)
So I quickly learned with the Indians organizations who progressive they needed to be to cultivate affordable talent from the farm league teams which tied in well with my collegiate roots from Nebraska athletics. That is typically not the case in Pro sports where you buy your talent like ripe fruit at a market. Under Tim Maxey's leadership they embraced Fueling Tactics® as an organization even creating a Spanish version, shot video of me at their parks and had them translated and engaged their entire performance staff on being able to reinforce the key messaging with their athletes. Organizationally they did the best they could to evolve the food supply relative to the budget the existed for feeding and the 100 plus years of tradition on who handles the food in clubhouses. That is an ongoing topic for MLB on who should be handling the food supply that is evolving in the right direction and will turn the corner when the athletes themselves decide to make the move.
What distinguishes a health professional that works in sports from the folks who populate many of our gyms across the US? it is their education and how they stay current. For example if you don't have a degree and your lean on the popular press for your synthesis of science.... you probably work in a gym somewhere and look the part, but all the advice you have revolves around body composition outcomes (skin deep coaching). When you work in sports the science is key. Credentialing to ensure minimum competency, years of experience working in a sports setting and an insatiable desire to keep consuming all that breaks annually in your respective field of study (exercise, nutrition, medicine) that impact performance distinguishes a real health professional. The culture of sports is performance focused, not just the body composition focused outcomes, paramount to the gym culture. In Sports the athletes have to do more than just look the part. It's all about performance, staying healthy and uninjured and doing it from seasons start to end, year after year. Using adulterated products that can cause a positive doping outcome is of little concern in the gym culture and maybe even a sought after advantage. Sports cultures take great precaution to avoid exposure of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) that could cause a positive doping outcome from an adulterated dietary supplement or highly fortified food. Unlike the gym culture, sports cultures require a coordinated effort to work as a team and not try and do it all. Medicine, Strength and Nutrition are all support services who have their respective roles. You can't stay current in all of these areas. There is just too much information to cover annually that forces specialization. I will have to tip my hat to the Indians for recognizing this and staffing their organization with the resources keep their staff current and to do it in an ethical manner.
So long before I went private in '01, I had been in negotiations on a few occasions with IMG to come down and take the reins on the nutrition and body composition support services in Bradenton FL. First when Mark Verstegen was running Performance and later when Loren Seagrave had the reins. While we never came to terms, Football Agent Tom Condon would pull me in to work with the NFL prospects they had working out at IMG Bradenton. Tom now heads the Football Division of Creative Artists Agency (CAA). Mark Verstegen went on to establish Athletes' Performance in AZ where I seriously consider setting up shop after leaving Nebraska, but decided staying mobile and indpendent was the way to go. Has worked out well.
So Alex Smith entered the NFL the same year as Aaron Rogers, but Aaron didn't go with Condon. Tom made his move to Creative Artists Agency (CAA) after this '05 Class. I shifted all of my agent related work to Neil Cornrich's athletes and coaches (NC Sports). I met Neil through Bobby Stoops at OU who Neil represents along with an impressive list of head coaches across college and the NFL. Neils is the kind of guys who calls and says "Bill Belichick is going to call you" and 10 minutes the phone rings and you are on a plane.
So this is Neil and I at the last Super Bowl the Patriots won. Neil represented a few of the athlete on that team and the head coach, Bill Belichick. It was Neil who set me up to work with the Patriots via Bill and the rest is history. More on the Jacksonville Super Bowl Victory in a bit. Thank for that hook up Neil!
The Sports Psychologist (to the left) that we worked with at UNL, Jack Stark was doing some work with NASCAR when I went private in '01 and reached out to me to go into practice together in Omaha and made some introductions to his contact at Hendrick Motors. They had a Strength Coach that focused on the pit crews mostly, but they started me out with one of their young drivers, Brian Vickers. Funny story... I drive down to the Kansas City track to meet Brian and that I would get a hotel (right). End up sleeping in my truck by Brian's trailer on the infield after our initial meeting only to hear a knock on my window. It was Brian offering up a pullout bed in his bus and us having a good laugh about my lack of understanding of the overwhelming nature of the NASCAR following that take on the cities and counties around these track each week over what is the longest inseason sport we work with in athletics! The learning curve was steep with me and the racing world, but I grew up racing moto-x so had a bit of a feel for the culture, but not the sophistication of the technology behind these cars! Very cool stuff and the marketing behind the sport equally as impressive. Oddly after you high five a driver while they are sitting in their car after the national anthem, you wonder if you will ever see them alive again. Have never had that feeling with any other sport as we approach the start of a competition. I suppose that is part of the draw to the sport by many spectators. After the airplane crash that took the lives of the Hendrick Motors family members in '04 things got quiet on all the big plans we had for a training center on their campus and my work with NASCAR faded out over time with some sporadic touches over the years. You really have to live with this band of traveling gypsies to help them and giving up my other sport exposures for that 10 month traveling circus was just not in the cards.
So back in '02 the Strength Coach for the Coyotes was an old assistant from the University of Wisconsin athletics, Stieg Theander who along with Mark Verstegen were recruiting my family to make the move to Phoenix to work at Athletes' Performance over Nutrition and at work with the Coyotes and other pro sports in town. Came pretty close to making that move, but the summers in AZ are like the winters in Wisconsin... challenging! We settled on staying independent and living at the foot of Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs so I could fly out of Denver to either coast with some efficiency. But I did still continue to work with Stieg and the Coyotes and again later with another Coyotes Strength Coach that followed in Mike Bahn starting in '08 when Wayne Gretzky had the coaching reins and continued on with Mike Bahn after Wayne left up until Mike Department in '11. Mike is now one of the High Performance Directors at US Ski and Snowboard in UT (very sharp).
Did most of my work with the team through Wayne's Strength Coach, Mike Bahn, but we we did have time to visit it usually gravitated towards my work with USA Hockey's National Team Development Program (NTDP) in Ann Arbor MI. The Canadians pretty much own the sport of hockey when it comes to it's origin and national identity so they keep close tabs on the competition, especially those they are feeling pressure from like Team USA. Wayne would remind me that they let their Jr. Hockey system cultivate the talent pool and put the money into making the Olympic experience as pleasant as possible for the families of the athletes so the athletes themselves could focus on the task at hand and thought the money we put into NTDP was.... well not money well spent. I took that as a sign we were right on course with NTDP and the product that was coming back to us when we assembled our U20 and Olympic teams. See we don't have a Jr. Hockey system like they do in Canada and so we have to take a different approach and I think Wayne knows this. While these athlete are paid to play on NHL rosters as a team, their nationalistic bones are very real when it comes to International play leading up to the Olympics and don't ever forget that if you work in the NHL!
The Strength Coach for the Warriors (John Murray) was from Stanford where I met him when doing some consulting work in the Bay area at a very unique place called the Riekes Center (www.riekes.org) that trained athletes. I had done just a little with Stanford Basketball with John when he got the job with the Warriors and pulled me in to test body composition with a Bod Pod that the Riekes Center had and frames as well as case work on diets and team work on the food at home and on the road. Was my first NBA exposure and a very good experience other that dealing with some of the nut bars on the sidewalks of downtown Oakland. The athletes were more motivated than I expected to learn how they could endure the grind of an NBA season without wasting away their lean mass as body fat was not much of an issue inseason with the mileage on the court. NBA street drug testing had weed in check (4 test per year inseason), but offseason after the fourth test.... maybe some pizza and body fat on these lean birds.
So the Avs had a Strength Coach that was also an RD like myself (Paul Goldberg) who I knew and when we moved to Colorado Springs offered to engage my to bring up my Bod Pod to move team evaluations past skin folds and that relationship has endured over the years even though Paul has left and his former assistant now has the reins (Casey Bond). Paul went on to work with special forces in a similar capacity. In about '10 managed to get the Sports RD at the Broncos involved as they are just a few blocks away at their practice facility (Bryan Snyder). While hockey is my sport, I unfortunately could not make a living for my family just working with hockey. It's lack of having a solid TV deal leaves it operating behind the rest of Pro sports when it comes to support services like full-time Sports RDs who manage fueling. But the good news for the Avs is that Patrick Roy and Joe Sakic are together raising the operational bar at the Avs and it's having an impact on the ice!
So Neil Cornrich who I met through Bobby Stoops at OU connected with with Bill Belichick going into the '04/'05 season where they won it all in the Jacksonville Super Bowl. Bill wanted to ramp up the body composition and nutrition piece for his very talented team so I got baseline body comps on the team with skin folds, mid season and pre-play off to track recovery and intervene with any loses of lean mass from a dietary and lifestyle standpoint. Food at home and on the road. Supplement interventions for immune, energy and recovery. Locker room food and supplement management. Sideline cramp management. The whole Sports Nutrition tamale and he went up to Don Kraft to get it done financially which I found out later was a poker chip that Bill didn't often burn with Don. As Bill's Ast., Berj Najarian said to me right after the game ended, "they cramped (Philadelphia) we didn't.... nice job" and the rest is history!
So first year working with an NFL team and we are in the Super Bowl! Dumb luck, but sometimes you just have to be lucky in life. In the week leading up to the game at our practice site in Jacksonville I was allowed to go to practice to play a specific role of timely fueling going into, during and especially after practice as Bill did little to let up on the reps and even some end of practice sprints (cross field gasers). I think good coaches stay in a weekly game prep routine, the same routine that got you their so that the players don't get too comfortable. Keeping a teams tempo and mental toughness is a big part of winning games when there is more time off leading up to the big game. I am surprised Bill has not won any Super Bowls since this trip to Jacksonville. I know his attention to detail is impeccable down to the post game moves with management. You see your leverage as a coach with your owners is pretty high when you are at Super Bowl so it's a good time to have your list organized that you want to move on and to lay that list down just before the game because after the parade back home everyone will scatter including the front office and by the time you get back to the table the victory mojo is already starting to wear off.
So on many of my visits to the Patriots I found myself up in Robert Kraft's office with he and his lovely wife Myra who died in '11. They were a greet couple and both into Nutrition and we would visit about what every they wanted to talk about while Don tried on shoes or what ever he was busy doing (constantly multitasking). Robert was great, pausing to ask my opinion on the shoes he was trying on or a tie he was trying to match with a suit. I really enjoyed the rapid fire questions from them both and constant shifting of direction on topics. No different than the way athletes come at you on a topic so many are confused on. I was not aware of any health challenges at the time with Myra back in '04-'05, but possibly it fueled their interest in the topic of nutrition. This is one of my all time favorite pictures from sports because Myra made us look so good ;) God bless you Myra!
So the same year that I started with Bill and the Pats was the same year I moved my family to Colorado Springs so I was flying back and forth every couple of weeks over the course of the season. They allowed me to find a local intern to work daily to execute what I wanted done with regard to managing timely fueling interventions between meals with shakes and the supplementation focused on resolving muscle soreness and hanging onto lean mass. That intern was a UCONN graduate named Joel Totoro who eventually become the first full-time Sports RD with an NFL team after that '05 Super Bowl victory against the Eagles. Bill asked me to consider taking the job myself in one of our post Super Bowl phone calls as I was still unboxing our belonging in our new home in Colorado Springs. As fond as I am of Boston and the opportunity Bill game me to work with his team I could not do that to my family and reluctantly and humbly declined the offer to come to work for the Pats which worked out well for Joel and I for me in the long run. Still to this day it was one of the toughest career decisions I have ever made. Joel stayed with the Pats through the '11 season and made a move to the collegiate ranks at the U. of Michigan Athletics. The Pats did fill the position with another Sports RD from the ranks of Special Forces named Ted Harper.
While Rodney didn't actually win the MVP of Super Bowl XXXIX, I though he was the difference maker in the game. If you remember late in the 2nd Quarter, Eugene Wilson broke his arm and suddenly a 221 lb. Rodney Harrison finds himself covering the same ground as a 198 lb. Eugene Wilson covered. My job was to make sure our starters didn't lock up at a critical time of the game which didn't end at the pregame meal, but continued with a food supply in the locker room and some hydration and buffering strategies on the sidelines. So unlike the Eagles we were doing great going into the 4th quarter, no cramps but Rodney was starting to grab when suddenly the Bill and the head Athletic Trainer, Jim Whalen started to for Dave as I walked by them working the sidelines to keep the athletes hydrated. We had an athletic trainer named Dave too so I assumed they were yelling for him, but I was wrong. Rodney was starting to grab and we had to keep him on the field so shit got very real right on the spot. Every time Rodney came off the field we connected. I forced Rodney to drink a buffered solution designed to help resolve cramps and Rodney did his part by keeping his bladder empty enough to keep drinking (the old piss in a towel trick). It all worked out with Rodney taking all his reps till games end and no one picked up the wrong towel ;)
While we (the Patriots) had a plan, feeding the team 6 hours before the game vs. the normal 4 hours so we could beat the traffic to the stadium. By having a food supply in the locker room to re-feed the team to compensate for the early meal and a chance for the athletes to literally hit the floor for a short nap. To have proactive and acute cramp contingencies in place for known and unknown crampers. The devil is in the details when it comes to battle and Bill knew from his father that you have to have a great plan (strategy) as well as a host of contingencies (tactics) to cope with the unexpected. The stories about how bad it went on this front for the Eagles with IV's with key personner that had them off the field and McNabb blowing crackers on the field. I even ran into one of our coaches from back at Wisconsin (Brad Childress) who was with the Eagles at the time as I passed the Eagles locker room and we visited briefly about what my role was. As I briefed him and asked him what they had going it was obvious this was not a subject he was in the mood to discuss because it was a factor in a very close game. The devil is in the details folks and the great coaches are very much into the details!
Got pulled into the Cavs by Strength Coach Stan Kellers to case manage some of their athletes diets and look over the team feeding at home and on the road. Doing frames on these athletes has some important perspective for NBA GMs on being more objective about who can or can't carry weight as they are all tall! Tall is not the whole story and this game is much more physical than people can appreciate. Credit to the GM Danny Ferry for doing things like putting me in front of the athletes significant others to engage our fueling mission away from the arena and credit to the Cavs owner for building a top shelf practice facility with a full-time Chef! Quality gig that was designed to attract athletes like Lebron and Shaq who are both as big as it gets for their positions, so much so that any GM could mistakenly ask them to shed weight unnecessarily if they don't take a more objective approach to determining leanness vs. weight. More on frame science later. Another key contact while with the Cavs is an Athletic Trainer named Mike Mancia who is LeBron's guy and now with the Heat who has kept me engaged with LeBron's fueling and hydration needs. They have all moved on, Stan, Danny, Mike, LeBron, Shaq... it's the nature of the business and I have sustained my practice by being able to get on a plane out of Denver and get to either coast in short order.
High ceilings, lots of glass, wood and stone. Well done Cavaliers on what was suppose to be a long term home for LeBron. He was just a kid when I first met him in Cleveland. Eating cereal in the dining room with his shirt off. All that was missing was the Cartoon channel. But as he grew up, so did his game and his leadership abilities which I have had some chance to watch after his days in Cleveland ended and I was called down to Miami to help him personally at his home going into the playoffs back in '12 to present. He is a father and now a husband and a good one at that. More on that chapter in a bit.
So the NSCA Headquarters are in Colorado Springs and my old boss at Nebraska, Boyd Epley along with his assistant Mike Arthur started the NSCA so I knew it's history long before I became a CSCS myself back in '94. There is a resident Strength Coach at the NSCA's headquarters where a solid weight room exist with a modest piece of turf for some movement work outside. Mark Stepehnson in the middle of that picture pulled me in to work with one of their teams they trained, the CC Tigers hockey team and a healthy Tactical populations (mostly SWAT) that trained at the facility. Was my first exposure to an emerging field of putting support services in place for Special Forces and Tactical teams in law enforcement. I guess I look at our Special Ops and Tactical forces like SWAT as Pros who compete with very real consequences if things don't go well. Was the second population that I worked with other than NASCAR where I would often wonder if I would see these folks again as they left the facility. I put my Bod Pod down at the NSCA and did a ton of Education (Mike Barnes left as Director of Education '07) with their resident athletes and all kinds of NSCA focused programs they would host in the Springs. Then the NSCA as an organization took a dark turn in '08 that I determined was time to pick up the Bod Pod and call it a day that I will elaborate in my Education career thread. It's a dark tail that has yet to be told by the popular press that sadly has tarnished the reputation of many good and ethical health professionals who work in weight rooms across the country. Mark Stephenson also left NSCA and now is a leaders in working with our Special Forces athletes.
So Jim Mora pulled me in to do a very unique in service for several aspect of the Falcons department. I think Jim got my name from one of her personnel guys at the time who use to be the Strength Coach at Navy, Phil Emery whom I had work worked years back when I was at Wisconsin (Sports Co-Op blend concept). Phil as my might recognize has gone up to climb the ladder to become the GM of the Bears! Once Phil flew me to test Joe Staley's frame to see if her could really carry 300 lbs. as he started out as a TE. He could, but Atlanta didn't get a shot at him in the draft that year. Jim went on to take the reins at the Seahawks and now UCLA where he has really turned things around. As I warned him when he got the UCLA job, every place he brought me in, he has gotten fired (seriously) which we can have a good laugh about now. I think Jim is a great fit at the Collegiate ranks where his personality can come into play in recruiting and dealing with campus politics. He is that nice a guy and really values what a Sports RD can do for his athletes by engaging them on the right way to fuel their bodies. Keep up the great work Jim!
So the Strength Coach for the Rockies, Brad Andres pulled me into their spring training which was at the time in Tucson AZ. Sadly Brad was let go the next year so the relationship never really got off the ground on a formal basis, but the current Strength Coach (Brian Jordan) has reached out on several occasions for some staffing help on the food side of the Rockies Spring Training facility out in Scottsdale and for the Denver Clubhouse. The new Scottsdale operation is the best going in baseball, but owned by the Indian reservation that it sits on and the Rockies and the Diamondback who share the other half of the facility are but tenants. Still the bar has been set for MLB Spring Training with Salt River Fields at Talking Stick (Scottsdale AZ).
So Jim Malone, who I met when he was with the Cleveland Indians pulled me in when he took the Padres job. Worked with both sides of the organization, big league and minor league. Jim is a NY native who went home in '12 to work with the Mets and he got married to a NY girl. Welcome to the ranks buddy! Padres are a great organization and one of my favorite US cities to attend conferences and work. Will miss these trips. Best to you San Diego ;)
Strength Coach Ray Bear pulled me in to work with the small market experiment in the deep south for the NFL, the now defunked Atlanta Thrashers. We did body comps, frames and lots of education when Bob Hartley was the coach. Was a real wake up call for me to see a hockey team that was owned by the same group that owned the NBA Atlanta Hawks who competed in the same arena operate on two different operational scales. I ended up working with both teams so I could fly in and they could spit the cost between the two teams budgets. But when I would walk out of the NBA clubhouse where a skilled Chef was whipping up fresh sea bass and walk 20 feet to the Thrashers clubhouse and see the players left to pay for food out of their own pockets for pregame meals. Years later the GM of the Thrashers, Don Waddell would tell me that the owners of the Hawks didn't want the Thrashers, but got leveraged into take them and thus the operational lid that left treadmills broken and players operating on vapors. But this is operational ceiling was not unique the Thrashers as I would see as I traveled around the NHL over the years.
Pretty sure that Ray Bear with the Atlanta Thrashers connected me with the medical side of the Hawks to split my travel cost and time to work with both teams which worked out well for a few years. Thought the Chef for the Hawks was pretty solid. He had them wolfing down sea bass and kale, not an easy task for most basketball players I had cross paths with at the collegiate ranks. It looked good, smelled good and of course it tasted great so they ate, gradually expanding their comfort zone along the way from chicken strips and fries to something that could really help them stay healthy and recover from one beat down to the next. Got me working on connecting with some of the culinary training academies across the US on an exploratory basis for some athletes home and team that wanted to move on from the normal hourly hash slingers who made little from scratch and almost never shopped and tapped into the local organic and natural food supplies. Ended up passing the Hawks and Thrasher off to an Atlanta based Sports RD named Marie Spano during the final budget crunch days of the Thrashers. I think Marie still works with the Hawks and did a couple of years with Braves minor league.
Strength Coach JJ McQueen was the one that pulled me in to the Dallas Stars for some camp education. Ast. Coach Rick Wilson's daughter was in attendance and was considering going into Sports Nutrition. I think that staff was around for a couple of more years and JJ retired with some health issues not too long after this. This is kine of the way the NFL and NBA roll. Camps become a time to invest a little and then they are off to the races with the start of the season with little inseason innovation. These are small shops per say. Very lean operations at the team level. To be a full-time resource, you HAVE TO HAVE DAILY UTILITY. It was with these kind of exposures that it became clear a Sports RD with some Chef skills might be able to find full-time employment in these kind of settings. Hmmm...
So I got pulled into the Browns by Romeo Crennel from the Super Bowl season with the Patriots. I think Neil Cornrich was representing Romeo too so probably a factor too. They actually had a loaner Sports RD from the Cleveland Clinic who was very nice, but young and inexperienced at the time so job one was to help her get some traction and to give the training table a face lift (old basketball court). Did some staff and team education. Phil Savage was the GM at the time and great. He was into the details too. The whole party didn't last long for Romeo or Phil. I was not around for the end after my year of ramping things up. Was working with all three Cleveland teams at the time, Browns, Indians and Cavs. Cleveland it not.... Miami, but I grew up in Omaha so I get hard working Midwest folks. They like their sports, brews and good friends. Gob bless Cleveland and the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame ;)
You start to run into NFL Coaches who were college athletes you have worked with like Mel Tucker. We got back to Mel's days at the University of Wisconsin where Mel played for us back in Alvarez's first four years. Mel went on to Jacksonville where he even won a game as interim head coach and now is D Coordinator at the Bears. I remember one day at Wisconsin where I was chewing Mel our for something and he politely looked me in the eye and told me his mother told him to never let anyone talk to him like that! He was right. It was one of those moments where as a coach you realize you are chewing ass just to chew ass. They were long, dark days in the basement of the McClain weight room at Wisconsin Athletics. Season Affect Disorder and Vit D were a factor Mel. My bad buddy ;)
Pretty sure a scout that I met via USA Hockey (Jake Goertzen) engaged me to do some work with the Tampa Bay Lightening personnel folks starting with a franchise they had in Norfolk Va of all places. Was a good visit, but hockey is a moving target when it comes to turnover with coaches, front offices which impacts scouts and this one fell apart quickly. Turns out the strength coach for the Lightening in Tampa actually lived in Colorado Springs, very close to where I had moved in '04, but lived in Tampa during the season and back home in the offseason (Eric Lawson). Too bad we couldn't get our shit together before Eric parted ways with the Lightening. What I was learning about hockey was that these international rosters of athlete all go home in the offseason, back to their homes far away from their NHL franchises. Long grinding inseason with just a little bit of rookie camp work in the offseaon for most with plenty of time for some golf and getting caught up with family. It also meant that the athletes were vulnerable to get an earful of back home guru for their training and nutrition advice that quite often could be way off track, focused on body building and leaning out vs. performance. This leaves these hockey athletes vulnerable when they get back on the ice with their teams and under-fueling and fearful on non-protein calories, especially carbs. Often using supplements that were adulterated with stimulants and anabolic agents along the way. Gym Culture if very different from Sports Culture and one that doesn't have the best welfare of the athletes at heart.
The Strength Coach for the Sharks, Mike Potenza pulled me in and along the way made the introduction of Ron Wilson who was really into nutrition and would pull me up to the Toronto Maple Leafs after he left the Sharks. Did some body comp and frame testing, team education and some travel meal assessment.
Caught back up with Jim Mora on what turned out to be his last season in Seattle. Knew their D Coordinator too from his time at North Dakota State (Casey "Gus" Bradley) who is now the head coach at Jacksonville. Knew their strength coach too from his days in the college ranks at Texas A & M (Mike Clark). Fantastic facilities at the Seahawks practice facilities up in Renton WA. Did some team education and worked on the organization of the food in the dining room a bit to synch with the education, but after Jim left that was it. You typically come and go with "your guy" in sports. Even though the director of Sports Medicine and I still stay in touch when he has questions with (Sam Ramsden), each coaching staff has their way of doing things which often includes a strength coach who wants to play the nutrition role so you go where you are needed. I charge a lot for my daily services so in the end teams pay for a while and eventually ask for help staffing an full-timer that can do the job and in the end won't cost them more than I what charging for annual touches. Typically I am involved in that staffing process and if they low ball the position, I might stick around to mentor in a transitional manner. Seahawks are due to staff a full-time Sports RD, but I think between the Strength Staff and a great Chef they feel they have this covered at the moment.
So the man behind the 2nd best kitchen in the NFL is Mac McNabb. Mac has a great food supply wired up Seattle way and does a great job for the Seahawks organization including feeding the MLS soccer team (Sounders) owned by the same folks who own the Seahawks. I would have ranked the kitchen #1 still had I not just topped it with the Packers new training table which I opened right after Thanksgiving '13. The servery where the food is merchandised in the weak link of the Seahawks training table, but the dining room view.... might still be #1 as it look out over Lake Washington with seaplanes landing occasionally. Gonna be hard to top that view ;)
I am pretty sure that is Lake Washington that the Seahawks training table dining room looks out over. The only other challenge that the training table offers at the Seahawks (and this is not much to complain about) is that it is located on the second floor of the facility vs. ground level, in the traffic pattern of the athletes movement between the weight room, meeting rooms and locker rooms. Designing the training table to make fueling a more frequent and timely thing for the athletes is really a primary design function that was not thought thru here. But so many sports settings treat food as an afterthought that I don't want to come off bashing this effort. It's set the bar for a solid six years in the NFL.
Might of met Randy Lee, Ottawa Senators Player Development at NHL Combine or their Strength Coach, Adam Douglas. Why can't I remember? Because this was a very unique tele-education deal they set up. Evidently the Senators have this great AV set up where they can have their team sit in a room and you can see them and they can see you! Was way cool as they found a location in Denver that could hand the transmit part from my end and that was set up for me to see them and vice versa. So I sent off all my educational materials, Fueling Tactics® poster and when I would tell them to pick up their highlighters and highlight the foods they liked on the poster, I could see them do it. They could see my computer screen and me the whole time. Got me all fired up to put a studio in my home that would allow me to do this kind of work without getting on a flight out of Denver (my second home). Now we can do Go To Meeting, Skype and iChat without all the studio trimmings and techs. Never did build that studio and even though they loved the job I never have been up to see them in person! In fact I typically don't count giving a single talk working with a team, but sometime a single exposure can be an eye opening experience that where appropriate I have made note of her for those who often ask me how I managed to build such a practice and in the process navigate so many different sports and organizations. This was an F & L (first and last) so thought I would mention it. Pretty sure the Senators have a Sports RD working with them now on a regular basis.
Got pulled into the Red Sox by the Strength Coach, Dave Page. Think we met at MLB Winter Meetings and later on the minor league Strength Coach came from the Indians, Pat Sandora. Dave has moved on and Pat is now the Head Strength Coach. They had me mentor a consulting Sports RD named Tara Mardigan who has moved on now. I also was brought in to do body comps and frames across the entire organization during spring training in Florida and to track changes for the big league team over the course of the season which can be kind of a mess in baseball. Most guys don't show up 100% and use spring and early season to get in shape before mid season only to start degrading before the end of the season with long road trips and disrupted sleep compounded by some real weak visiting clubhouse chow in some settings.
Strength Coach Dwight Daub who use to be in the college ranks pulled me in with these guys moved from Seattle to Oklahoma City. Really like what GM Sam Presti was building with a High Performance Model for support services while they were waiting to get their new facility built. I was brought into to play the Sports Nutrition role and eventually get the position staffed with a full-time resource when they moved into the new facility in '11. Also had a hand on some facility planning for that new facility which set the functional bar for NBA facilities. Not as much polish as the Cavs facility, but superior in many ways on a functional basis. Donnie Stack heads up the entire Performance Team as the PhD PT. Joe Sharp is the Athletic Trainer. They have added a physiologist from the UK too since moving in the new facility. The Sports RD I plugged in with Chef skills got gassed after a half a season before he could get his roots down. He didn't pass the stink test with the food! He was the first full-time Sports RD in the NBA for 6 months and poof at the All Star break. Plugged in the Sports RD at Oklahoma Football to cover for now. Great organization in my book and we connect when ever I am in Oklahoma even though I work with LeBron ;)
So after working with Ron Wilson while he was at the San Jose Sharks, he reached out to come up and take a look at the feeding they had in place up at the brand new practice facility they were literally moving into when I arrived. Did some team education for Ron and some case work as well as inservice with the Strength and Medical staff. They are printing money up in Toronto when it comes to being a the center of Canadian hockey history. The Hockey Hall of Fame is just a short walk from the arena where they compete. Fantastic city, but Ron's time ran out as did GM Brian Burke. Two Americans in Toronto. You know that was going to be a short rope without some big seasons.
So yet again another Patriots Super Bowl season contact in Josh McDaniels asking for help. Oddly enough I got called into visit with the Broncos after I moved to Colorado Springs and had just helped the Patriots staff their Sports RD. That meeting in '06 didn't result in any movement on evolving things while Shanahan was still coaching, but when Josh came in he asked for change, he knew me, the organization knew of me and so we got started. Like the Patriots, they wanted the whole Sports Nutrition tamale. So I started scouting out interns to mentor into a full-time Sports RD and got busy on the facility facelift. Not a real kitchen, but a satellite operation with a local catering op doing the heavy lifting (handicap on food quality). But I got the front of the house organized and the team responded well and they were out of the gates strong. Was busy the second half of the season traveling with other team work so to this day I don't have a great feel for what happened between Josh and that team that had them tail off so hard late, but it was a rough first ride for Josh and his young family in Denver. It hardly means the end of him as a head coach in the NFL. I remember a guy named Bill Belichick going through that same learning curve. Hope the best for Josh next go at the helm of a team.
Really could appreciate the ownership and organization behind the Broncos over time. They are proud of their history of success and probably ready for a new facility or some major upgrades to what they have, which are now in the works. Elway was not around much in '09, but he is the face of the franchise and you have to love where they are headed now with Manning driving that team towards another Super Bowl appearance. The Strength Coach in '09 was a veteran with the organization who I really like working with, Rich Tuten. Couldn't hardly believe it when they parted ways. The head of Sports Medicine is a bit of an NFL legend, Steve Antonopulos who is a true professional. They were the second NFL organization to make a full-time commitment to hire a Sports RD behind the one I put in at the Patriots back in '05 (Bryan Snyder a Colorado native). Hats off the Broncos. No wonder both they and the Patriots have been so consistent. They take care of the details!
Ok, I am not the tallest guy in the world, but we don't have to be on the ice. Now the Sports RD for the Broncos who played basketball.... he is LeBron tall! If you look close you can see they have used him to work on QBs throwing thru traffic (bottom right). Very proud of Bryan for getting his RD while working with the Broncos. Not easy to do. The growth in Bryan as a health professional has been amazing to watch even though I don't see him that often. I have never been one to just hang around after my work is done. Bryan is about to get a kitchen so they can take that next step to do fresh food production at the Broncos. Sure he will put together a good one after they practiced in the Jets facility at '14 Super Bowl. Was a good wake up call on where they need to be as an organization.
So if you look close, bottom left you see what I walked into the Broncos and found and the rest if the finished front of the house facelift focused on helping the athletes understand how to use their food supply (three step Fueling Tactics®). People knock this off all the time, most typically without asking. Sometimes they change it just a little so they can pretend like it was their idea. Honestly, none of that bothers me because in the end it's progress for our profession! When teams make a commitment to feeding, a full-time Sports RD often follows. Sports RDs have to be good with food and I think a generation of Chef RDs will end up being a catalyst for Pro sports growth over time. At a minimum Sports RD have to be great food service managers which is part of our training, but without some work in the food industry growing up, may not ensure any real skills to write menus and manage personnel. In this case at Denver the majority of the food was preped off property due to lack of adequate kitchen facilities so which is a rate limiting issues on food freshness and serving temp. And when you run out.... kitchen is five miles away! That will change soon for the Broncos.
Strength Coach Pete Prinzi pulled me into look things over at '10 Spring Training and eventually help them staff a Culinary Chef with the team named Simon Lusky who is still kicking ass and taking names for the Cardinals. Simon has become a team asset that they even attempted to travel this year to Boston during the '13 World Series to take the edge off the visiting clubhouse chow. That is a long story the inability to dictate feeding for a team when on the road. We all have challenges to face when feeding on the road, but as the customer we typically get to dictate the product and service we are after, not have it dictated by an hourly employee called a clubbie. It's a 100 plus year way of doing business MLB, but I really think they are about ready to evolve and catch up with the rest of sports when it comes to feeding with higher standards at home and on the road. Keep up the great work Simon and Pete. You have a progressive GM in John Mozeliak who will push for progress.
So the picture of the two guys holding the '11 World Series Trophy for the Cardinals are Shawn Zell, now the Sports RD for the St. Louis Rams with Culinary Chef training and Simon Lusky, Culinary Chef for the Cardinals still pursuing his RD. Now last time I sat down to dinner with Simon after the '12 World Series against Boston where the Cardinals came up short, he promised me he would stay on her efforts to get his RD like he set to do before the Cardinals consumed him for his talents feeding the team. I made him swear it to everyone at the table of 8! Why... because you are not a Sports RD until you get your RD! A Culinary Nutrition degree from Johnson and Wales does little to set you up for all the exercise science and medical nutritional therapy knowledge necessary to play the role of the Sports RD. The good folks at Johnson and Wales Culinary Nutrition know that too. Stay on course Simon. Like Shawn, you can get it done in time! I did the same thing in my early years. Had the degree, but not the RD and was consumed by my day gig with Nebraska Athletics. Will always owe Nebraska athletics for making the time to let me knock out my rotations to get my RD.
Had corresponded with the Packers Strength Coach, Mark Lovat for years on working together, but I didn't expect to get a call week four of the '10 season asking if I could come up NOW. The team had a bye week. Evidently Mark had planned to have me help with a rework on their training table dining room servery under Lambeau Field. But what happened was the stadium vendor at the time did the rework and it didn't go so well. There is more to the rework than you can see in this picture, about double the area where I put a three step 24/7 food supply, but I had to hustle on this one. Had maybe 48 hours to watch what was going on before I made my edits and we were back in business a day later. The rate limiting issue was that the kitchen was about four stories above this dining room so it was a satellite production op, but not as much distance as I had to deal with at the Broncos, but still a rate limiting issue. The good news was the team noticed the changes and they went on to win the Super Bowl this season! The organization got it. This was a positive that we needed to build on and so we started talking about a next step....
So I was not at this one up to my wazu in work like with the Patriots, but tracking with the Packers none the less after the training table rework and some follow-up trips. Amazingly on one of those trips in early '11 after camp was over I was stopped by several players who tanked me for the work on the training table and said they thought it helped make a difference in their Super Bowl run! I only bring this up because food is that big a deal. I always tell aspiring Sports RDs, make a difference in the food and everyone in the building will know who you are! It's Sports Nutrition 101, but so many think that food is below them and want to focus on supplementation or something else. What the team didn't know was that we had something really special cooking to be unveiled in '13 that would set the bar for training tables across all of sports!
Not many franchises in sports have a hallway dedicated to NFL Championships BEFORE the Super Bowl was invented and four afterwards! It's an amazing organization with a winning tradition second to none! Strength Coach Mark Lovat's father was a coach on one of their previous Super Bowl teams and he grew up around the program. He knows the organization like no other so when I told him we needed a salad bar for the '10 facelift, he knew right were to go pinch one... from the Media Box! We still laugh about that one, but it's guys like Mark who are willing to stick their neck out for change that get the ball rolling and with a Super Bowl victory, keep the ball rolling for operational evolutions that don't always come easy to established organizations. And boy did we keep it rolling with the plans for the Lambeau expansion that broke ground in '12 that would give me a footprint for a new kitchen and training table and Mark a footprint for a new weight room and indoor conditioning space!
Weight room right off the practice floor and flows right into Sports Medicine. Well done Strength Coach Dwight Daub and Ast. GM Paul Rivers!
The out door piece with the pool and some running ramps and sand is fantastic. Great job Strength Coach Dwight Daub and Ast. GM Paul Rivers!
Shower, massage, locker room all flow right into one another. Practice court is perfect. Great job Ast. GM Paul Rivers!
The kitchen (not pictured) is adequate with a great three step Fueling Tactics® buffet. Great water assets for hot, cold and unloading on underwater treadmill. Not pictured is a great theater style meeting room with all the AV buzzers and whistles. Ast. GM Paul Rivers put his heart and soul into this facility. Sure he would do a few things different, but who wouldn't when you open the doors and see things functioning a little different than you planned. I really enjoy working on facility plans like this and then watching the product in action. Seems like I am getting pulled into all kinds of facility planning going into my fourth decade of work in athletics (ugh).
My job on this phase of the Lambeu Stadium expansion was focused on the new training table that would execute a fresh food production for the three step Fueling Tactics® program that we use to educate Packer athletes on how eat fuel to out work the competition. If we were on schedule we would be able to open the facility on the '13 bye week making it a functional asset for the majority of the '13 season. But the project was a bit behind schedule and we didn't open until the week after Thanksgiving when we had a small break to transition into the facility and get the staff ready to execute in the new kitchen.
So hats off to the Delaware North team for working through Thanksgiving to get the new Packers Training Table opened for the team when they returned form a couple of days off. Instead of food coming down from a kitchen four floor above the ground level team only locker room space, now we have a fresh food production kitchen and 24/7 food supply that athletes and staff can access the entire day they are at the stadium. I went ahead and planned in a Sports RD office that we will staff by the start of the '14 season. The good news, the team responded very well to the new facility and fresh food quality by going out and winning games that got them a post season wild card birth! Unfortunately the '13 / '14 season ended in a close lose to the 49ers, but expect a great offseason in the new Packers facilities which include a top shelf weight room designed by Strength Coach Mark Lovat.
Strength Coach Mark Lovat has what has to be the biggest NFL Weight Room and attached Indoor Movement Space to work with the Packers athletes inseason or offseason. All of this is in a tight flow pattern where the athletes walk past the training table on the way to the weight room from their locker room. Logistics are a big deal and this facility has all the function and polish you could ever want with reminders along the way of the winning tradition characteristic of this historic franchise. Great job to all who played a role including Ast. GM Russ Ball who I know from his Strength Coach days back at the University of Missouri back in the old Big 8 Conference days. Not pictured is a new players lounge area and player development resources.
Braves are planning a new facility up north that will open '17 season. Got pulled in by the Coordinator for all the Strength Coaches, Rick Slate to work on a vision of what could be for MLB fueling with top management and then down to spring training for some Minor League Education that went well. Very proud organization with as good a winning tradition as you will see for a development focused organization. Role will grow over time on education and case work at all levels. Also getting pulled into some work with new stadium design.
As flattering as job offers are to go back in time and lock down with one team, I had to pass on the Packers recently as my family is just not up for a move away from Colorado. Ironically, of all teams to come calling next.... the Bears! Know the GM, Phil Emery who is an old Strength & Conditioning Coach from years past at Navy. Know the Strength Coach Mike Clark from his days with Texas A & M. Know D Coordinator Mel Tucker from his days at Wisconsin when I was his Strength Coach! Bears are a historic franchise in the genesis of the NFL as we know it today. They are hungry for more of these modern era Super Bowl trophies. Flattered to get the call to help evolve the nutrition and body composition support services under their High Performance umbrella. Sadly with Phil's departure as GM I will watch next moves and see what I can do to continue dialogue on getting the Bears to move on hiring a full-time Sports RD in '15.
So in addition to working with the athletes in the Braves organization with nutrition education and case work, I have been pulled in to design what will be a bar setting clubhouse kitchen that will give the Braves the ability to produce fresh food for all their meals with the help of their Culinary Nutrition Chef Chris Drumheller (Johnson & Wales Grad) and the Braves Clubhouse personnel. The entire project will set a bar as an entertainment district around the park like we see around some football stadiums now. It's the synergistic revenue model that everyone across sports is scrambling to create. Very cool to see all the moving parts in motion here. GM that was driving the project did get let go as I was finalizing plans for dining room and kitchen layouts so like so many sports organizations you have to roll with that kind of change that disrupts communication during critical phases of planning.
Well that bar setting training table needed a full-time captain and they got one of the best off my short list of candidates in Adam Korzun from the University of Oregon. Deal with the Bears was that after I completed staffing the Packers I was done working with anyone in the NFC North for a year. Hope to cultivate a vision of value for full-time Sports RD at Bears in time as I do at all my stops. Athletes and staff deserve full-time Sports RDs who can grind along with the annual duty cycle of an NFL team. Eight teams an counting now have full-time Sports RDs as of Sept. '14. Ninth is in the works now ;) Congratulation to the Packers and Adam Korzun!
I routinely attend and speak at MLB Winter Meetings in the US each December, but as MLB expanded their efforts to organize the quality of the education to personnel who work in the DR I was asked to speak in '14 which was an honor. Typically the education tracts are split between coaching and medicine. On this trip I spoke to both groups jointly over lunch. DR staff were hungry for information and very appreciative of the effort MLB put forth on their behalf. Will only get better every year!
When we moved to Colorado Springs in '04 everyone just assumed it was to work with the US Olympic Training Center in some capacity, but I had learned some time ago about the funding limits of Olympic employment and so that was never part of my intentions when relocating. I was actually looking for a good airline hub to fly from and while I found that in Denver, my family was more comfortable with Colorado Springs as a location to live. The only paid anything I have ever done with the USOTC was in '06 when Karen Daigle, a Sports RD working as a physiologist asked me to come down and meet with her superiors on selling them on hiring multiple Sports RD with skill sets suited for different sports groupings they ended up calling Sportfolio and they were initially grouped as follows:
Endurance sports are headed up by Jay T. Kearney with Bob Seebohar as the Sport Dietitian,
Strength/Power is headed up by Wes Barnett and
Susie Parker-Simmons is the Sport Dietitian,
Acrobat/Combat sports are headed up by Alan Ashley with ....yet to be hired Sports Dietitian
Team/Technical sports are headed up by April Heinrich Karen Daigle as the Sports Dietitian
Seems as though people cycle thru these jobs in rapid fashion over the years. Kind of a get it on your resume and move on gig. Sometimes they leave in frustration with the politics of Olympic sports. You can't serve two masters when it comes to sports. It's performance first and the politics of community outreach second. Seems as if they often co-mingle the two in a manner that leave everyone scratching their heads on who they really report to and what their priorities are between Olympic years. College athletes has a similar element to it. It's where the Olympic folks come from for the most part. Sadly Olympic sports are always under funded and in college generate little revenue. It's on the shoulders of revenue sports at the Collegiate ranks that the vast majority of our Olympic hopefuls train and where most of our Olympic coaches come from. I don't say this with any contempt as I am a big fan of the Olympics and quite fond of the collegiate student athletes turned Olympians. They are a great cause, but funding is a big issue for our NGBs and Olympic Training Centers. I very much with that was not the case.
The US Olympic Training Center staff (Terri Moreman) that worked with food supply would come to Nebraska to visit in the late 90's. I always had an open door policy to just about anyone. While nutrition is a real performance advantage, when we focus on the health and welfare of the athletes, there is little that we keep from one another as health professionals who work in sports. It's all about helping these athletes survive the grind. So I was not surprised to walk into the dining hall at the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center when we moved to Colorado Springs and see this Fueling Tactics® sign on the way. I take stuff like this as a complement and focus on how these different training table are attempting to execute fueling in a way that truly engages their athletes in a way that impacts the quality of the meals they build. Keep up the great work Terri and all the Sports RDs that are now on staff to help our Olympic athletes!
I was working with USA Hockey Coaching Education in some capacity since '01. Mainly speaking at different coaching certification courses and helping author articles for USA Hockey Magazine. My work really picked up when I moved to Colorado Springs in '04 as the plans for ramping up coaching education for online coaching modules were being discussed.
So USA Hockey has a National Team Development Program (NTDP) based in Ann Arbor that I was asked to engage by some of the Coaches over the U17 and U18 teas back in '07. Both have moved on to the professional ranks but at the time it was Ron Rolston and John Hynes. Since they moved on more solid coaches have filled in like Danton Cole and an old friend, Donny Granato who I met back at the University of Wisconsin where he played.
I am always amazed in sports in general how small a community it really is. Everyone kind of knows everyone. The degrees of separation are much smaller than the real world so I am not surprised when I keep crossing paths with the same people over the years as they move from one job to the next. One of those familiar faces from my early Wisconsin Athletics days that is now a head coach for USA Hockey National Team Development Program (NTDP) is Donny Granato who played for the Badgers in the early 90's. His assistant.... a former player for the Lincoln Stars who I use to work with back when we lived in Lincoln NE! Funny to pull up these guys old body fat numbers from back in the day. Good motivation for us to keep fighting the aging battle that is accelerated by travel! Keep up the great work NTDP!
So the online coaching education modules for USA Hockey finally took shape in '11 shooting and editing the content here in Colorado Springs. Was a lot the way it was shot, but turned out well. Not every hockey coach in America wanted to engage on the topic of nutrition, but for the most part the response was very positive. I even started to run into people on flights that were looking at me and asking how they knew me who had done the online education certification that included mandatory touches on age specific nutrition education modules. USA Hockey also had some other health professionals engaged on topics like sleep, psychology, strength and conditioning. in '13 they made all of us elective modules for coaches to consume in this certification process based on the time that it was taking to get thru all the content and the fact that some people certify two levels (five total) in one year. I have a green screen in my house now with the ambition of shooting this content over soon in three minute segments for easy online consumption. Reworking the Fueling Tactics® poster first (now two sided) where one side serves as the qualitative story on fueling (101 level) and the back side is more the quantitative story (202 level). The reason Fueling Tactics® has been so popular and withstood the test of time.... it simple enough for athletes and coaches to understand and execute. Doing my best not to screw that up in '14 ;)
So the field of Long Term Athletic Development (LTAD) is focused on avoidance of early burnout and plateau of athletic performance from early specialization to one sport. This is a problem in the US as a result of club sports who want to keep athletes drinking from their cup all year, often out of fear that they won't progress up the ladder annually if they don't! So where an athlete might have taken a mental health break from an indoor sport like hockey to get outside and play baseball or lacrosse, they stay on the ice. This often results in early skill development and progress on the ice, but has show to limit overall athleticism, vulnerability to injury and contribute to early psychological burnout of of which limit the pool of international caliber athletes for the USA to draw down on relative the number of participants in the sport. So changing the culture is not easy as I have witness firsthand. Kenny Martel is the man at USA Hockey who took this task on and it just so happens we have coached a local high school team together in Colorado Springs while the LTAD-ADM program was being rolled out from the bottom up across the US (youngest to oldest). It's a bold initiative for sure and has cost Kenny and his staff some gray hair along the way, mainly dealing with parents who have an attitude about change, but they have gotten great traction since the inception in '09. USA Hockey is getting some credit now for sticking their necks out on this subject from the US Coaching community and seem to be over the hump. Way to show some leadership USA Hockey and the ADM staff on a very challenging issue that many NGBs have not year tackled!
So not many people are good at know for sure where their kids are at in a growth spurt unless you are tracking their height and maybe getting some shots of growth plates when they go to the dentist or to an orthopedic doc. But what we do know is that young "athletes" who are passing on physical activity for video games are missing some windows for adaptation that possibly can't not be compensated for later in life when and if they finally do start structuring their training! Is the dumbing down of the time and space exposures that we are genetically hardwired to respond to that ultimately format the wiring and the hard drive for life! It's why often multi-sport athletes turn out to be our best Olympic and Professional athletes, they were moving and adapting to all different kinds of time and space challenges that came with the different sports and along the way, staying hungry to compete because they were having fun (a novel thought now days). It's probably the Hockey Coach and Strength Coach part of my brain that engages me on this topic, but Sports RDs can play an important role here too in tracking growth in an effort to identify peak height velocity growth onset which can signal the approach of a readiness for some strength and size adaptation that come as vertical growth slows down. All part of the business of sports and not unique to hockey.
Two of the guys that make the adaptations of our USA Hockey National Team Development Program athletes nothing short of amazing are front, Darryl Nelson (strength and conditioning coach) and back, Kirk Culik (combat / mental toughness). Most of the folks who drop off their young males athletes bring us boys and are given back men after two years! They make lean mass gains inseason that you only see offseason in most Jr. hockey athletes and the caliber of coaching and play these athletes are exposed to truly slow the game down for them making them top prospects for a college scholarship and a future in the NFL. If we have any faults at NTDP it's that the early birth month kids typically dominate the rosters because even a few months of maturity with U17's and U18's makes a difference. Often the late bloomers with later birth months get passed up in the selection process, but when they mature, look out! These late bloomers have often had to compensate for their late gains in strength and size by being smarter and more skilled on the ice. When their bodies catch up, bingo! You potentially have one of the diamonds in the rough that come out of now where with just the right chip on the shoulders to want to prove they can compete. We really need another layer for these top skill, late birth month kids to get some NTDP like exposures, but that cost money and what we have now is yielding well for the U20's and Olympic selections down the road. Not pictured are our two Sports Medicine ATC's, Jason Hodges and Andy Baker who do so much with limited resources. You all make a difference!
So I get to be around all the over the top sports facilities in the Pros and College so I find the facilities in Ann Arbor solid, but ready for a fresh face. Hope that equate to a new location to operate out of at some point. Maybe a rink USA Hockey builds and operates on it's own so we have some marketing inventory to do some trades with (dasher boards, signage). Would like to evolve the fueling resources for the athletes while they are at the rink ASAP and some of the recovery assets (hot, cold tubs). Weight room square footage is solid, but aging equipment. It's all adequate, but some polish wouldn't hurt. These are USA's top U17's and U18's and we can do better in time!
It's an impressive list of NTDP Alums that have gone on to play College and NHL. Every year our U20 pool gets more competitive internationally and of course the ultimate goal is to pull from our NHL athletes a pool that can make a splash at the Winter Olympics. I have enjoyed caching up with these guys along their journey at the Collegiate and NHL ranks with my consulting work and contrasting the gains they are making and if their frame filled out to their potential along the way. Great cause USA Hockey NTDP!
Once while I was at NTDP when the U17s and U18s report, typically around Labor Day, I just happened to be standing by the glass where the team enters the ice and the goaltender coach a the time (Joe Exerter) was doing his thing with the goalie warm-up drills at my end when someone lost and edge and came smoking in under his heels sending him to the ice head first - backwards. It was bad in a big way. Joe was gone, I mean alive, but gone somewhere else, convulsing, speaking some language we speak when your are looking down at your body and about to meet your maker. A really disturbing things to watch that had us all at the ER wondering if we would ever see the old Joe again. The good news is that Joe came thru this and now no more odd then when I first met him (goalies ya know). Hope you are well Joe ;)
The first place finishes for U17 and U18 NTDP teams since 2003 speak for themselves. The coaching and staff behind NTDP should be very proud of what they have accomplished!
Competing internationally while at the NTDP is an extraordinary exposure for these young athletes to understand the style of play that comes with each nation they face. There are many brands of hockey and only a veteran of NTDP will have seen them all by the time they are 19 years old! These are the same athletes they will face off against at the U20 and Olympic games. By that time they all know one another quite well and the will to win and team unity to battle through adversity might just be the difference. That comes together on these rosters a bit quicker if they athletes have been skating together over the years on and off at NTDP, College and at U20 and up! A hot goal tender helps too ;)
The good folks from College Hockey come to USA Hockey NTDP every year and make their case for going that route and I couldn't agree more! College is a season that allows these young frames to continue to mature and fill out for the grind that awaits them in the NHL for the select few who make and stick on a roster.
The U16's that tryout for our U17 slots annually are an impressive group of hockey athletes from all over the country now. The hockey markets where college and the NHL exist are yielding some solid athletes, even if they don't see much snow annually in their hometowns. That is cool along with the increase in minority athlete participation in hockey. Diversity is something that we deal with in sports, but to a lesser degree than normal in hockey due to the cost of ice time and equipment. So when these 45 plus athletes show up each spring to tryout in Ann Arbor I am always impressed with the geographic and cultural diversity evolutions I see taking place. My job is to assess their body composition and frame for current weight carrying capacity. Unfortunately we are not doing any growth plate assessment due to cost, but that would be helpful in this rapidly evolving age group. Eyeballing up the parents is the next best option or knowing something about the siblings who might of played hockey. Being a multi-sport athlete is always a plus too, but ultimately when you see a talent pool like this on the ice, side by side, competing for a few days you can sort out what your have when the scouts all gather the last day to compare notes on the bubble athletes and get some perspective from the sports psyc eval on coach-ability and leadership potential. Really enjoy being part of this process annually. Historically old friends like Tim Taylor who we lost in '13 were part of the group of USA Hockey Scouts. You will be missed by many Tim. RIP buddy ;)
Because I live in Colorado Springs I am an easy get to speak at clinics that some of the High Performance folks behind the NGB's put on at the Olympic Training Center. This was one filled with some of the best swim coaches on the planet in the house who are very metabolically sophisticated operators with the periodization of their swimmers workouts (in the water and out). Really enjoyed listening to what I like to think of as sitting around the coaching campfire. That is when you get some of the real veterans together and they start talking in a language of coach speak that if you have been around and can interpret, is so valuable with the time tested key learnings they pass along. At least that is the way I feel because there is no school that can teach what they have learned through their real life exposures with elite athletic populations. It's part of the learning curve that if you are going to succeed in sports you must try to expose yourself to, even if it means working for swim caps for a year in this case.
Pictured here with Mike Bahn who is over Strength and Conditioning at USSA. Well I have really been trying to get out to Park City for a few years now to connect on all that is going on with their High Performance model that is spinning off so many people into all levels of sport. It's a hot topic.... High Performance. It is someone that is dedicated to the buzzers and whistles behind readiness to train (recovery) and evolving rapidly. Because it is new, it is all over the place on where to focus your resources because most of these biometric have a price and generate a bunch of data... very noisy data in that no one is sure what to zero in on at times. Like anyone in sports, the High Performance Directors are also in the cross hairs when things don't go so well, like with US Speed Skating in Sochi. The not so high tech side of High Performance is just making sure performance distractions are minimized at events where all the marbles are on the table like an Olympic games, Super Bowl or MLB World Series. The stories from Sochi from High Performance Director at USSA were extraordinary and downright heroic in my book! What they did to help USSA athletes keep their edge from start to finish with the fatigue that went on in the various Athletes Villages.... above and beyond the call of duty! They are stories that Troy and his staff deserve to tell. I sure appreciated the sharing and could reflect on many a bowl game adventures in the US that had a similar ring to them. Troy and Mike and the whole USSA staff are simply difference makers!
Body Comp / Frame Work
That is correct and I am probably underestimating here, but they add up over three plus decades the number of 7 site skin fold measurements I have taken and continue to collect. It was a necessity before we had Bod Pods and iDEXA because our athletes did so poorly in hydrostatic tanks and logistics for team testing are typically poor for those tanks. So as crude as skin folds are for quantifying body fat (especially in long trunk, large frame athletes), we often still use them as a backup test to spot when a Bod Pod is having a bad day (which they do occasionally). Many schools still don't have anything more sophisticated to do longitudinal body composition assessment with than skin folds. Have learned how to make the best of a bad situation with multiple equations that can gap up on the under estimation that is typical of assessments on athletes who carry more visceral body fat. Still I think we will look back at testing skin folds and liken it to the days when people looked for water with a divining rod!
... away from complete reliance on skin folds! Was an early adopter of the Bod Pod while I was at Nebraska back in '95. The year they started testing the NFL Combine '05 with the Bod Pod, the average body fat of a lineman went up from 18% based on a three site skin fold to 25% in the Bod Pod! Whoopsee! Was the same wake up call I got when first using a Bod Pod with Nebraska athletes that visceral fat stores and a lot of the rubber on their backside was being missed with skin fold assessments and that are larger framed athletes were the most vulnerable to carry more fat, especially those with long trunks and very robust frames depths and breath measures on their trunk. So the Bod Pod, as fickle a devices as it is, had some important utility for more accurately quantifying fat mass that we desperately needed to set realistic goals for athletes. Skin folds just missed big drops or gains in visceral fat mass! Bod Pods however have some rate limiting issues of their own that are documented in peer reviewed literature and need to be fixed for it to stick as a team testing tool! I actually own a Bod Pod myself!
So with every next step in accurate body composition assessment comes a new number, typically a bigger number that coaches and athletes have to swallow! My experience is that iDEXA is about 3% higher than Bod Pod, but we don't have enough data to say that for sure across the varied nature of frames and resultant fat distributions. Really like the iDEXA visceral fat quantification function. Talk about a motivator to know how many grams of good you have stacked around vital organs like your live and heart! Nice to get bone mass too with DEXA in weight restrictive populations that don't value any kind of additional mass (even if it's lean mass). Folks at GE are on top of the DEXA business and make the iDEXA for 100 plus K!
Back in the early '90s I was looking at weight carrying capacity independent of height and what kind of factors were the strongest predictors on limitations of weight carrying capacity. The problem was that slight frame athletes with height were being demanded to gain mass that they just couldn't carry which left them looking for solutions that might lead to a trip over the boarder back in the day. Same went for big frame athletes who were being demanded to get lighter to the degree that they might look for solutions that could involve use of amphetamines or lead to disordered eating behaviors. It was and still is a hot mess the subjective nature of body composition demands made upon athletes by their position or event coaches. So my work on frame assessment and scoring was really born out of advocacy for the athlete so we would have a more objective way to help everyone involved set individualized goals that were more realistic and safer for the athlete to attain during the time we had with them. It's a system that has been decades in the making, tweaking and quite frankly keeping proprietary to my private practice. Guys in this picture were with us at the University of Wisconsin '93 when Alvarez won his first Rose Bowl.
So big muscular athletes and those with a lot of body fat offer some real challenges to get frame breadths and depths on, but it's possible and I have learned how to handicap for the ones with too much rubber over the bone that can lead to a prediction that is an over estimation. Still most big frame athletes just don't fill their frames out to the ceiling of their potential. There are some huge folks in sports and they are only getting bigger!
A wide set of hips is a big factor in net capacity to carry weight in the form of lean body mass!
Pelvis is a big picnic basket for those organs and the big frame athletes can carry lots of fat mass around those organs before it starts to hang off the front of them.
Wide shoulders are a factor, but not as much as you think. Lots of NBA athletes with a set of shoulders that fill the doorway, but can't carry much weight relative to their height!
Some of these cats are a yard deep here and can carry a lot of weight as a result if you add wide shoulder to the mix.
Frame scoring seems to be greatly valued by Strength Coaches so they can individualize their periodization in the offseasons for the needs of the athlete vs. shoving everyone thru the same funnel. It's also a challenge for the athlete who trained all their life to accrue lean mass to suddenly shift gears towards more power and strength work. They get stuck in a "what got me here" rut and keep wasting weeks of offseason workouts doing hypertrophy focused workouts that are unnecessary and may create a metabolic liability for them to keep hydrated and cool in the heat of fall camp. So we evaluate and educate and eventually the athlete and coaches better understand why we are shifting gears from hypertrophy and weight gain. Frame scoring has utility!
Advocacy & Awards
The evolution of full time sports RD position in sports has been so slow, that the few of us who have had traction banded together and started the Collegiate and Professional Sports Dietitians Assn. (CPSDA) as a member based organization back in '10. An Executive Board was elected and I was plugged in as the first President. So from 2010-2012 was a blur getting this non-profit organized and on it financial feet. I recruited a former PR Director for the NATA, John LeGear to become CPSDAs Director of Ops and away we went! We ramped up to 500 plus members year one after a very aggressive recruiting and networking campaign. Let some of my business idle down to accommodate the demands of the ramp up, but it was a very worthy cause. Sports RDs are advocates for athletes, just like Dr. Tom Osborne who we had speak at our third annual conference and later named an award after for administrative and coaching advocates for Sports RDs. Stayed on as Past President on the Board for a third year and now am a designated Ambassador-At-Large for CPSDA, but off the board (and back to work). One thing I promised myself and the founding Board members was that we would cycle our leadership off the CPSDA Board to make room for new leaders and fresh ideas and CPSDA is having an impact. The number of full-time Sports RDs now employed has doubled twice since we established CPSDA! To learn more go to www.sportsrd.org.
If you were one of those kids that mainly heard the buzz of the florescent lights in grade school and not the teacher than maybe you will be able to relate to this. Sitting in a classroom for a couple of decades, detached from the grounded realities of how things really work in the business world is a handicap for our students. They need a chance to get out of the box and out in the real world as often as humanly possible to help conceptualize the value of human interaction (a declining art with our GenY crowd). Sports is all about being able to read people and know when you are being read. No one can size up the competition better with a glance than a competitor in sports. For me it all started with a paper route in elementary school, a job cooking at Perkins when I was 15 (fudged on age), working my way thru college waiting tables and working for UNL athletics as a student strength coach. And still a huge learning curve on adaptability that came after going private in '01. It's not often that being good on your feet is recognized by Academia, but that is kind of what this '01 Award from the Alumni of my UNL Dietetics Department came up with and awarded me. My old Adviser is now the Chair of the UNL Nutrition Department and have brought me in on occasion to speak to the students about the value of these applied exposures along the way and is even working on weaving more into the under grad and grad curriculum. Hats off to all of you back at UNL, Tim Carr, Linda Young and special thanks to my first Adviser and academic mentor, the late Hazel Fox! Dr. Fox use to cover class material over her lunch hours that conflicted with my work in the afternoon with UNL Athletics. She was a gem!
Part of CPSDAs mission is to get students, prospective Sports RDs some real life exposures working in sports so they can see if and where they are a best fit. It maybe working with endurance vs. power athletes. Male vs. females athletes. College vs. Pro vs. Olympic athletes. It might be working with Tactical vs. Military athletes. Regardless of the route you head, this is a long road where athletic exposures truly refine your skills and CPSDA Members are dedicated to creating those kind of exposure opportunities for those who we don't scare off first! Seriously, we need Sports RDs how know what they are getting into, not someone who ran a 5 K and thinks they are ready to teach the football team how to carb load! We have been down that path and are still trying to overcome the handicaps it created for those who really were equipped to do the job! Even though I travel to the majority of my work destination, I try to make time for students CPSDA members along the way. Athletics has taught me much more than I could ever hope to give back. We pay forward by mentoring the next generation of Sports RDs to be better, sooner ;)
While I attend 5-10 conferences a year to stay ahead of the curve, everything I do is geared towards distilling it all down into executable concepts that coaches and athletes can understand. I have been shooting Videos and DVDs for decades because coaches and athletes are such strong visual learners. To this day my drive to author books falls by the wayside for more consumable video assets that can be streamed to portable devices. The books will have to wait a bit, till after my mid to late 50's. I will be busy generating video until then and maybe an iBook down the road that can bring the concepts to life for athletes and coaches with a desire to learn. I was truly inspired by the feedback I got from all the USA Hockey Coaches on the educational content we shot in '10 for USA Hockey Coaching Education! At the moment all my DVDs that I shot last in '06 are out of stock so that I get cracking on the next generation of streamable video segments. This will allow me to edit any segment as the message evolves without reworking an entire DVD. More to come here and it all jives with the Fueling Tactics® Poster. Thanks for your patience.
One of the first things I noticed after the NCAA started the one training table per day rule in '91 was, how hungry athletes were! It was so bad at Wisconsin that I would bring leftover rice and potatoes over from the training table so they could have a shot at some fast digesting starches after class, before we started to train that turned into some kind of NCAA issue that made the paper. No where in sports do we have a rule that limits who and how often an athlete can be fed, other than the NCAA! It was all born from a battle between the haves and the have not's where the have nots want to level the playing field with anything that keeps their cost of operations down (cost containment and competitive equity). It's a joke and since '12 there has been talk of deregulation of feeding rules by the NCAA, but it has been kicked down the road twice now for further discussion. Behind closed doors, something as fundamental as feeding student-athletes is still just viewed as equivalent to raising the minimum wage for an sports economy that most often operates in the red. The good news is that feeding deregulation was passed in April '14 (thanks for the catalyst Shabazz). Now comes the challenges of executing solutions from school to school. Watching closely for collusion at the conference level to try to selectively interpret permissibility in a way to limit operational cost. Sports RDs in the middle of finding realistic solutions.... www.sportsrd.org.
So sports like football take a toll on the body and as we now know, the brain, but not just football. Athlete endure a lot of wear and tear over their careers and they are as vulnerable as anyone to suffer from some degenerative diseases as they age. My observations over the years have been that while they are more prone to stay active in their later years, from being an athlete, they often are cut short due to orthopedic issues that limit mobility and speed aging. So when older athletes that I have worked with reach out for help, I try to make time for them. I am glad to see Players Associations and Leagues from the professional ranks working together to help athletes with their age related physical and mental challenge as well as with substance abuse and financial challenges. The put the pedal to the metal for their sports for years, decades in some cases and deserve a helping hand. Pictured here are a couple of old Huskers who were still grinding away in the NFL back in '09 with the Broncos (Correll Buckhalter and Russ Hochstein).
One of my very important tasks with CPSDA was networking with other organizations in sports and the Joint Commission For Sports Medicine and Science is kind of a one stop shop for doing just that with health related sports organizations. The member organizations are a who's, who of sports (http://www.jcsmsonline.org/4.html) and the annual conference involves the leadership of each organization coming together and forming collaborations like CPSDA's work with the NCAA or US Anti-Doping (Chief Medical Officer for NCAA right side of pic.. Brian Hainline). Collaborations that literally launch ships that impact careers of health professionals and athletes alike. Can't say enough good things about JCSMS and the leadership cogs like Jim Whitehead, the Executive Director of the American College of Sports Medicine. Will probably work in a leadership role for JCSMS at some point... if they move their meeting so it doesn't conflict with MLB Spring Training or the NFL Combine ;)
The problems we face with adulterated food and dietary supplements is a big concern for Sports RDs who work on the front lines of athletics. Drug tested athletes can find themselves in a bunch of trouble if they don't take responsibility for what they ingest, but as the folks that put most of what they ingest in front of them, we are the first line of defense... Sports RDs! So we work closely with organization like NSF for some practical solutions where food and supplement ingredients can be verified for safety and finished products certified to be free of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) or other adulterants that can harm the health and eligibility of the athlete. To learn more about NSF Certified For Sport program go to www.nsfsport.com.
So there are few who set the bar higher when it comes to corporate ethics and safety than DuPont Nutrition and Health (DNH). I have been working with some of the food focused business of DNH for a couple of decades now and they have truly taught me more about global supply chain safety and ingredient verification as well as Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) than I thought possible. If I want to make 100 lbs of a protein blend for a multi-billion dollar Pro athlete that I know is sourced and manufactured to the highest standards, I call DNH! Not only do they do that kind of bench formulation and bending work for clients, but they even get it NSF Certified to add that extra layer of security on top! DNH sells ingredients to the world and they know everyone in the food and supplement universe. I can't ever thank DNH enough for all of their support for CPSDA and for all the introductions they have made to quality organizations like Abbott-EAS, CytoSports-Muscle Milk who like DNH aspire to make quality products that validate their safety via NSF for our drug tested athletes. DNH credits me with the idea of a protein nugget that looks like a rice crispy which has turned out to be a big deal the last 20 years. All I asked for was a healthy rice crispy treat because all our athletes love them. The rest is history ;)
So as you can imagine, being a Sports RD makes me a food first advocate. I might have actually popularized that "food first" phrase way back in my early years, but like being an early adopter of using chocolate milk as a recovery beverage in '90, you don't get any points for that. I do get pulled into do some advisory work with the American Egg Board, The Egg Nutrition Center, The National Dairy Council, you name it. I eat enough Avocados, they should be calling next! And I don't mind stumping for food over supplements. Even the supplement folks know the role they play... supplemental! I do work with some progressive supplement programs like Abbott-EAS, ZeaVision, Biothera, The Right Stuff Hydration and IgY Technologies. They use food ingredients, no API's and all of them that make finished products NSF Certify. My main role is innovation. What do we need next to help athletes endure the grind of athletics. I enjoy tracking the science and watching the need from the trenches of athletics. It's the mother of invention! This is fast expanding to technology that helps Sports RDs determine "Readiness To Train" or "Recovery" like with non-invasive toold like Muscle Sound. Never a dull moment staying ahead of the curve in sports!
Living in Colorado Springs makes it convenient to work with US Anti-Doping on educational initiatives targeted at helping Sports RDs better understand the landscape of adulteration and doping that could result in a positive drug test for athletes. We see things as Sports RDs on the front lines of athletics, often as early as anyone that USADA needs a heads up on and they certainly see trends from drug testing that we need a heads up on. It's a very solid collaboration that grows stronger with each passing year. For example part of our anti-doping advocacy was to help authenticate some of the content that went on the USADA Supplement 411 website launched by Amy Eichner. Amy is one of many brilliant staff under Travis Tygart's leadership. The cast of characters behind the adulteration and doping business that prey on athletes is nothing short of something out of a Batman movies that are motivated by a multi-billion dollar annual sports nutrition business in the US alone. Sadly the supply chain for the active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) that go into these products span the globe. We have our hands full here, but Sports RDs are very much engaged in the battle!
There are many types of fraudsters behind doping, some crooked MDs, some just felons who went from selling steroids to selling spiked dietary supplements containing active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs). But the dirty lab coats behind the scenes, who conceive the chemical analogues of addictive compounds like Meth and multiple anabolic agents, all designed to stimulate co-dependence in users, those are the folks that are slipping through the cracks. They are the folks that truly empower the API Adulteration Industry that are systematically doping our youth! It's a hole in our enforcement as the DEA and FDA Office of Criminal Investigations have their hands full, leaving these fraudsters to operate with impunity, most right here in North America. Many fudge on research for the safety and efficacy of doped dietary supplements to help the brands fend off class action lawsuits. Most spend a bunch of time stumping for these API doped dietary supplement brands at trade association gatherings where they can stimulate key influencers to buy in to their message and ultimately stimulate consumers towards the brands. It's a hot mess that we need to turn the heat up on in a big way!
My Strength Coach bones (CSCS) leave me advocating for strength coaches like the Professional Baseball Strength & Conditioning Coaches Society (PBSCCs). Jim Malone with the Mets is the current PBSCCs President and we have worked together for years while he was at the Padres and before that the Indians. Tim Maxey was the first President of the PBSCCs and now works for MLB and MLBPA in a one of a kind position as the Joint Coordinator over MLB Strength Coaches to make sure they are all certified and stay up on their education. That visiting club houses and facilities in Central American are adequately and safely equipped. And to create and enforce policies on what kind of dietary supplements can be funded and supplied by MLB Organization to avoid positive doping outcomes! I have been an adviser to PBSCCs for years now and think they have set the bar on the kind of organization that all professional strength coaches in the NFL, NBA and NHL should follow. Keep up the great work PBSCCs!
Probably a lost cause rooting for more males to succeed in anything now days, but only 5% of dietitians in the US are male! When I ask the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics what their plan is for getting more males engaged with the profession the tell me that they have us in the same bucket as "minority" recruitment for the Academy! I have to remind them we are a gender and not a race and that they might want to look at court decision like Title Nine and come to grips with the fact this is an "equity" issue and not one of diversity. Oddly enough the Academy has never even done a survey to know where the males that are members are practicing, how do we skew? My guess is sports is one of the hot buttons for male recruitment into the field of Dietetics. I know we have a huge shortage of males relative to the number of request. Pictured here are two of a growing number of male Sports RDs working in the NFL (Rob Skinner and Bryan Snyder). So maybe in 2014 we can figure out where we are working and get the agenda properly labeled ;)
I was recruited by the Founder of the Riekes Center (Menlo Park CA) to come witness the transformational environment they had created back in the mid '90's. It was a place where students could come and explore art, music, nature studies, film making, lean to workout for performance or non-performance goals. Often students came in one door, maybe the training part and quickly started to test the water on a set of drums or in the movie or photograph studio. Soon they went from being a student to becoming a mentor to other new students. No matter how reserved or introverted the personalities, when they became the mentors to others, something really special started to happen with their self worth and confidence. For many it was transformational from what was being viewed as a developmental handicap! So I still happen into the RC after all these years to see it's continued evolution. Would like to see language worked in. It's all part of the hard drive formatting that young minds need exposure to that will impact their life long decision making ability. It's a pace where interest can turn into a passion and it's proved it developmental value over multiple generations now. The world needs more Riekes Centers! Keep up the great work Gary Riekes and staff! www.riekes.org
For those of us who grew up coaching our kids (god bless you), most were more focused on their own insecurities with the approach of each practice or game than having any level of consciousness of LTAD. Kids were encouraged to specialize down to one sport early so they could move with club teams in the offseason that were billed as the development solution. Then.... it didn't go so well. The athletes got better fast, but not better long term. Some burnt out along the way and others got injured. So a great deal of rapid evolution is afoot when it comes to handling the young athletes mental and physical development for the long term. The narrative is evolving rapidly and outcome based data is still weak so expect a lively debate here for sports like swimming where the medium is unique. One thing is for sure.... the more parents hover over their young athletes, the less fun it will be! Diversity of athletic exploration at young ages is a good thing. Most of it use to happen in the empty lot on the block. It didn't cost that much to find out what you excelled at compared to today. The greater the investment, the more the parents hover and orchestrate which kills the creativity and joy that sport is suppose to foster. It will all turn into a business soon enough for athletes who manage to excel enough to compete at the Collegiate or Olympic level. The Pros.... short shelf life, all business. Let's keep your youth engaged as long as possible in sports without screwing it up. Those youth tend to be active much later in life and hopefully less of a liability on a healthcare system that will soon be pushed beyond it's limits.
This is a logo from the Lincoln Ice Skating Assn. (LISA) in Lincoln Nebraska. As a kid who grew up on the ice in Omaha, worked in ice rinks and played into my adult years only to find my young family growing up in a town just 70 miles away, without any ice or organized hockey! So a bunch of folks who congregated on the lakes around Lincoln each winter decided to get organized and start pitching city leaders for a municipal or public-private solution. So I was co-founder of LISA, but up and moved to Wisconsin where I was surrounded by ice rinks (indoor and out) for four years. But when I came back, we got started again with this campaign and someone was listening the second time because a few doctors in town plugged some ice in an old horse arena on our State Fairgrounds to accommodate a Jr. Hockey Team (Lincoln Stars) and the Lincoln Ice Hockey Assn. was born! And we skated our asses off and won some tournaments with a thin, but growing youth hockey movement in this football town!
• Co-Founder & First President
Lincoln Ice Skating Assn. ’88-‘90
• Co-Founder & Board Member
Lincoln Ice Hockey Assn. ‘96
So while hockey was taking root in Lincoln NE, I continued to get my USA Hockey Coaching Certifications (Level V) and coaching in addition to volunteering time on the Lincoln Ice Hockey Board. This was the first championship team we had in Lincoln. A bunch of ten and eleven year old kids who we watched step on the ice in Lincoln in '95 when the Lincoln Stars opened up for business. Kept coaching till both of my boys were done with high school and we had moved to Colorado Springs where there is no shortage of ice along the front range and in Denver. Contributing to youth hockey will always have a soft spot in my heart because it was that important to me growing up. It kept me grounded when I got off track in Jr. High School. It might have saved my life. Will keep paying forward with hockey where ever we live. I often do some nutrition education for the Colorado Rampage Jr. team at the rink right off my exit in Monument CO.
Ninety minutes on the ice is very different from ninety minutes in Life Time Fitness! The time and space demands of sport can't be replicated in a gym, nor can the hormonal response that comes from being competitive! Is a shot of stay young and a massive stress release. It also has a critical intensity component that we let decline with age and inactivity that as long as we don't get injured, is therapeutic! Sadly some sports like football just end.... while old hockey players keep on keep'en on! Find a competitive something in your life that hold you accountable to show up and move with a group if possible. It's will help you sharpen the old saw with some deep sleep too ;)
“One of the first calls I made when forming sports nutrition an advisory board was to Veteran Sports RD, Dave Ellis. I first met Dave back when he was the Sports RD for the University of Nebraska and witnessed his unique ability to apply complex metabolic research in a way that athletes and coaches could understand. Few in the trenches of athletics have that skill or the patience to keep up on the science.”
--John Ivy PhD, Former Kinesiology Department Chair
University of Texas
"One of our valued advisers here at USADA is Veteran Sports RD, Dave Ellis whose insights into the trenches of athletics is unparalleled. Few navigate all levels of sport like Dave which gives him a very unique perspective on the challenges we all face with fueling and anti-doping issues."
-Travis Tygart, CEO
US Anti-Doping (USADA)
"Properly fueling student-athletes is a fundamental that I take very seriously! So when it was time to build a vision for all that goes into a Sports Nutrition Support Service we called on a Veteran Sports RD who could lead the way. Dave laid out a vision of what should and could be for fueling at Clemson Athletics for our Administration, Medical and Coaching leadership that we immediately began implementing. Our staff and athletes bought in and the impact was tangible on the field and during recruiting! Dave has a vision for all that goes into the rapidly evolving field of "High Performance" sweeping across athletics, so we keep him close to continuously stimulate our vision for innovation!"
--Dabo Swinney, Head Football Coach
“I want to thank you for your most recent visit to Green Bay. We appreciate all you have done for us in the past and all that you continue to do. Your work makes a difference and is a real part of our success. Your knowledge, insight and dedication to performance nutrition are unparalleled. We look forward to a continued relationship with you as we strive for our next championship.”
--Mark Lovat, Strength & Conditioning Coordinator
Green Bay Packers
"After watching Dave in action it's obvious he has the ability to observe, innovate and communicate in a fashion that really has an impact with athletes. These qualities are only found in veterans of their trade."
--Steve Antonopulos, MA, A.T.,C., Head Athletic Trainer
Denver Broncos Football Club
“A well organized approach to educating and feeding athletes can make a difference, especially at the highest levels of sport. Dave’s Fueling Tactics system is a time-tested performer.”
--Head coach Bill Belichick, three-time Super Bowl champion
New England Patriots
“Dave’s process allows the development of a tremendous sports nutrition program. Very few people have the ability to relate to the athletes and delivery a clear-concise message that creates a level of compliance that most programs are unable to achieve. His 3 Step Fueling Tactics® approach is a GREAT guide for all athletes to follow.”
--Dwight Daub, Director of Athletic Performance
Oklahoma City Thunder
“Dave’s three decades of work in athletics have not only made him a valuable resource for improving the performance of our nutrition and strength staff, but also for our management as they plan new spring training facilities. His ideas are always grounded and vision diverse. I can see why his services are sought after by the most successful franchises in sports. He’s ahead of the curve.”
--Dave Page, Former MLB Strength & Conditioning Coach
Boston Red Sox
“Dave has a genuine way of communicating an important message to the college athlete that they can easily understand. He can relate with the kids and gives them plenty of opportunities in his Fueling Tactics system to make subtle improvements in their diets and personal habits that enhance their careers and lifestyles.”
--Paul Culina, M.Ed., LATC, Head Athletic Trainer
University of Maine
"I have had a chance to see Dave's impact now with two different NFL teams and one thing in particular jumps out at me. Dave has the ability to accurately dissect the strengths and weakness of a team and vividly illustrate a plan of action. Dave's ability to deliver an executable plan is a sure sign you are dealing with a professional."
--Romeo Crennel, NFL Coach
New England Patriots, Cleveland Browns & Kansas City Chiefs
“We knew early in Dave's career that he could help us sell athletes on the value of nutrition. He has endless curiosity in this area. Dave was a big part of our three national championship teams.”
--Tom Osborne, Athletic Director; Former Head Football Coach (1973-97)
University of Nebraska, Two Term US Congressman (NE)
"When we were ready to evolve our nutrition and body composition services for basketball we brought in a professional in Dave Ellis. Dave's ability to work with all aspects of our organization was evident starting with the positive changes made in our travel meals. Being able to work with administration, sports medicine and strength and conditioning is key in making changes that really work and Dave has the experience to navigate them all."
--Lute Olson, Head Basketball Coach
University of Arizona
“It's great to see the evolution in Dave's nutrition system over the years. It's obvious that he keeps up with the research as well as the trends that top athletes and coaches are exposed to. Dave has become one of the true Professionals in his field."
--Barry Alvarez, Athletic Director & Former Football Coach
University of Wisconsin Athletics
“Dave Ellis is one of the few people that a head coach can put in front of the entire team with confidence that he’s going to deliver concise messages with credibility. Few people in sports have been behind the scenes of more organizations, and he’s learned something from all of them.”
--Bob Stoops, Head Football Coach
University of Oklahoma
"Twice now my strength coach and I have brought Dave in to work with my football athletes (first at Boston College and most recently at NC State) and twice we have gotten the same results. The buzz from the athletes was audible. Our NC State campus food service was so impressed with Dave's Fueling Tactics system they put his new DVD on their campus television network so all students and staff on campus could benefit from his message."
--Tom O'Brien, Former Head Football Coach
Boston College & North Carolina State University
“Dave has always been able to communicate complex nutrition concepts to athletes with the energy it takes to keep their attention. Dave is one of the few in the field with the credibility to influence athletes at every level of competition.”
--Jerry Schmidt, Head Strength Coach
University of Oklahoma
"Dave Ellis’ 25 plus years of insights into athletics have made him a valuable asset to our entire athletics department. Dave's counsel has been valuable when evaluating coaching candidates, designing facilities and most importantly, when helping us evolve our body composition and nutrition support services. No one has a better read on how to improve performance and recruiting outcomes then Dave."
--Joel Maturi, Former Director of Athletics,
University of Minnesota
"It's refreshing when you find someone who speaks the language of our athletes and whose advice is so grounded in reality that they can keep the attention of our veteran athletes. That is just what you have with Dave Ellis and his Fueling Tactics nutrition education system. It's easy to see why Dave is brought in to work with the biggest names in sports."
--Ron Wilson, Former NHL Head Coach
"I have seen a lot of nutrition education sessions with pro hockey athletes in my career, but without a doubt, Dave did a better job then any I have ever witnessed. It's clear Dave is a hockey guy. Not only did he keep the attention of an international mix of hockey athletes for 60 minutes, but I witnessed our athletes put his advice into action over the course of the season with the help of our strength and medical staff. In my opinion, Dave helped our franchise raise the bar and in the future we are going to make sure the wives of our athletes have the same opportunity to hear Dave's message. It's that important!"
--Bob Hartley, Former NHL Head Coach & Stanley Cup Champion
“I’ve witnessed from day one how Dave’s been blazing a trail in sports nutrition and strength training. He always seems to be ahead of the curve. He’s the only person I know who has a system to determine athletes’ weight-carrying capacity. Knowing the limitations of an athlete’s frame adds much needed objectivity in determining the position an athlete may be best suited to play.”
--Frank Solich, Head Football Coach
“Dave was one of the first to realize there could be diminishing returns when adding body weight to athletes, even if it was lean weight. As an orthopedic surgeon, that kind of insight, which came early in Dave's career, is characteristic of his overall success. Dave is an innovator!”
--Pat Clare, Head Orthopedic Surgeon
University of Nebraska Athletics Orthopedic Group
"As the Head Football Coach at North Dakota State my staff and I took on the challenge of transitioning our program from Division II to the Championship Division I level, it was key for me to bring in credible resources that could have an immediate impact on our athletes. Dave Ellis was one of the first people I called. His approach with athletes is completely authentic. Dave knows how to instill a sense of accountability in athletes like no other and the results with our athletes speak for themselves. Our program went from 2-8 in Division II to 10-1 in Division I."
--Craig Bohl, Head Football Coach, & 3 Time FCS National Champions
North Dakota State University, Now University of Wyoming
“As an N.B.A. strength coach it is very important to determine the optimal body weights of our players. The unique frames of NBA athletes make it particularly challenging but Dave has devised an objective method of determining frame size that looks at skeletal parameters beyond height. The end result is a customized, easy to use nutrition program that lays the foundation for optimized athletic performance."
--John Murray, Former Strength Coach
Golden State Warriors
“It's great to find someone who delivers a message that athletes can wrap their arms around. Dave presented data in a sex specific manner so that our female athletes related to it and were motivated by it. We saw immediate results because our athletes listened!”
--Sherri Coale, Head Women's Basketball Coach
University of Oklahoma
"Dave has the experience and credibility to have an immediate impact with athletes. However, his ability to connect with them in an organized and highly informative way is what has kept our athletes talking about his Fueling Tactics system long after his visit. He is an asset we plan to continue to use with our football team well into the future. As a matter of fact, we plan on sharing him with all our athletics teams."
--Todd Rice, Former Head Strength Coach College Athletics
“Dave’s 3-step Fueling Tactics system helps our athletes outwork the competition with the power of food! Fueling Tactics is a program we introduced to our USA Hockey athletes in 2006. The feedback from our National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor has been nothing short of fantastic!”
--Mark Tabrum, Director of Coaching Education
"Dave is one of the few Sports Dietitians who can illustrate how professional athletes routinely gain muscle in a safe and ethical fashion. Young male and female athletes need to hear this message so they don't lose perspective on just how many athletes are doing it right.”
--Don Hooton, Founder, President & Chairman
Taylor Hooton Foundation (www.taylorhooton.org)
“Both my wife and I were immediately impressed with Dave's down-to-earth approach and motivational style. He has vast experience and stays on top of the latest research.”
--Mike Wahle, All Pro Offensive Lineman
"I first sought Dave out as a consultant back in '00 when I visited the University of Nebraska because of his reputation as a leader in his field. I got more then I bargained for in that Dave has the compassion and depth of caring to deal with those from the most difficult backgrounds. I remember a consult he gave to a young athlete who was newly diagnosed with leukemia with his father present. Dave had us huddle up and put our hands together as we wrapped up and said “WE ARE GOING TO BEAT THIS THING!. WE ARE A TEAM AND WE ARE IN IT TOGETHER! WE ARE GOING TO WIN! It was one of the most inspiring and poignant moments imaginable. And the young athlete beat the illness. Beneath his rugged coaching exterior, Dave has a gift that allows him to totally engage people in a way that gets results, no matter what the circumstances. I consider Dave a true friend of the Riekes Center."
--Gary Riekes, Founder
The Riekes Center for Human Enhancement, Redwood CA (www.riekes.org)
"We met Dave over a decade ago in San Antonio when Nebraska Football was in town playing in the Alamo Bowl. As instructors, we were struggling with our graduation rate over at the US Air Force Pararescue Indoctrination course relative to our rate of students washing out of the course and needed some advice on how to get a better yield without lowering our training standards. Now we have Dave helping consult our PJ's on high altitude mission nutrition issues at our training facility in Montana. Few in the field of sports nutrition understands the parallel that exist between highly stressed athletes, weather they be military or civilian. It was inspiring for our special forces athletes to be trained by the same guy who is training the pros."
--Rod Alne, Former PJ Instructor, President
Peak Incorporated, www.thepeakinc.com
“Dave’s counsel and advice on nutrition and supplementation has been greatly valued by the Professional Baseball Strength & Conditioning Coaches Society and now with MLB and MLBPA.”
--Tim Maxey, Joint Strength & Conditioning Coordinator
Major League Baseball
“If you’re looking for state of the art research and application in the areas of nutrition, metabolism, body composition and frame estimation, the leader in the field is clearly Dave Ellis.”
--Paul Goldberg, MS, RD, CSCS, Former Strength/Dietitian, Colorado Avalanche
THOR3 Human Performance Coordinator, 10th Special Forces Group
“In all my years of being around athletics I have never heard a nutrition message that is more grounded and easy to understand than Dave's. It's a message that is applicable to everyone, not just athletes. Americans in general need the wake-up call that Dave's Fueling Tactics system delivers.”
--Brian Boitano, Olympic Gold Medalist
Professional Figure Skater
"I send athletes and coaches to Dave to benefit from his extremely professional and effective Fueling Tactics system, and the results have been outstanding. For those whose schedules don't yet permit for them to consult with Dave personally, I provide them a copy of his DVD and poster, which is an easily understood, excellent educational tool. I highly recommend Fueling Tactics System as a key component to athletic success."
--Neil M. Cornrich, NC Sports, LLC
“Dave’s depth of knowledge and practical application of sports nutrition is at the world class level. He can go from cellular metabolism to “coaching” athletes about a food first approach in the same breath. That is what makes Dave an invaluable resource to the athletic community.”
--Michael Barnes, Former Director of Education
National Strength & Conditioning Association
“A lot of people talk about sports nutrition, but few practice it on a full time basis. Even fewer have done it for over 30 years! Dave is the real deal and has been doing it longer than anyone in the business."
--Rob Skinner, Veteran Sports RD
Washington Red Skins
Sport’s best known nutrition pioneer, Dave Ellis,
earns CPSDA’s prestigious ‘Trailblazer Award’
May 19, 2014—Nine national awards recognizing special achievement and contributions to advanced-practice sports nutrition will be presented May 21 by the Collegiate & Professional Sports Dietitians Association (CPSDA), including the prestigious “Trailblazer Award” to be presented to Dave Ellis, RD, CSCS, a dietitian-strength coach who changed the way most people view sports nutrition in the U.S.
Ellis grew up in Omaha, Neb. and began studying dietetics at the University of Nebraska in 1982 while also working to become a nationally certified strength coach. Then head football coach Tom Osborne quickly grasped the explosive potential of scientifically blending strength with nutrition and put Ellis to work. Ellis remained at Nebraska for two decades, contributing in no small part to national football championships in 1994, ‘95 and ‘97.
Ellis has been a traveling sports nutrition consultant for the past decade, instituting athletic training table programs at dozens of college and professional sports teams and elsewhere. In 2010, he was elected by his peers to be become the first President of the newly formed CPSDA, and dedicated his two-year term to “building a foundation that would last 100 years.” By any measure he appears to have achieved that goal. Ellis continues to volunteer his time to the organization as Ambassador-at-large, and was instrumental in the NCAA’s decision last month to grant “unlimited meals and snacks” to Division 1 college athletes for the first time in history (see CPSDA Newsroom for more on this topic).
“The significance of the NCAA ruling,” Ellis explained, “is that all 340 Division 1 athletic programs now have incentive to find the best and most affordable ways to properly feed their athletes. And while the decision is a turning point in the history of sports nutrition, our most important trailblazing is still in front of us. We have to prepare hundreds and eventually thousands more RDs to handle the highly challenging requirements of being a Sports Registered Dietitian in the most competitive environment imaginable.”
Nine national awards will be presented by CPSDA May 21:
· CPSDA Trailblazer Award: Dave Ellis, RD, CPSDA’s first President (2010-12)
· CPSDA Excellence Award: Victoria Rosenfeld, RD, Princeton University
· CPSDA Service Award: Caroline Mandel, RD, University of Michigan
· Tom Osborne Award (for a coach or athletic administrator committed to nutrition excellence): Mark Verstegen, Founder/President, EXOS (formerly Athletes Performance)
· EAS Academy Scholarship Award: Elizabeth “Beth” Miller, Florida State University
· DuPont Nutrition & Health Scholarship Award: Robert J. Leonard, West Chester University
· Muscle Milk Female Athlete of the Year: Elise Walch, Florida State University (volleyball)
· Muscle Milk Male Athlete of the Year: Connor Barwin, professional football player
· CPSDA Lifetime Member Award: Keith B. Wheeler, PhD., Abbott Labs/EAS Academy
For more information and phone numbers for award recipients, please contact John LeGear, Director of CPSDA Operations/Communications, at 708-431-6919.