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Pickles and Watermelon
The Terrace level of Bill Snyder Family Stadium features the Ahearn Fund Student-Athlete Performance Table, a world-class dining facility that meets the daily dietary needs of all K-State student-athletes. (Photo by Scott D. Weaver/K-State Sports)
August 16, 2014
By Kelly McHugh
K-State football's fall camp is tough - there's no denying that.
The weather is hot and the turf the Wildcats train on is even hotter. Naturally, through sweat and hard work, players lose much needed energy after each practice. Refueling and rehydrating off the field plays a key impact on the performance on the field, and there to make sure the team is putting the right fuel in their bodies pre- and post-workout is K-State Athletics' sports nutritionist Scott Trausch.
Trausch came to K-State in Nov. 2013, where he became K-State Athletics' first full-time sports nutritionist and, so far, has had a key impact in helping Wildcat student-athletes from every sport perform to their max by eating the right things.
"No. 1 is overall happiness," Trausch said about the changes he's seen among the student-athletes in his first year on the job. "The football players, this summer, we do a few meals for them in camp, but we brought fruit trays down on some of the hot days so they had fresh fruit. They're getting used to and they're expecting pre- and post-practice workout fueling stations where they have fruit available, meal replacement bars, chocolate milk and protein shakes. We're trying to implement more whole food sources. They're getting spoiled now, but that's a good thing. They've never had this before."
On Aug. 1, the NCAA's meal guidelines for Division I athletes changed and, while student-athletes were previously allowed just one meal per day at their respective university's training table, they can now receive enhanced meals and snacks from their university.
The rule change makes Trausch's job even more fun, and he can now provide student-athletes healthy options to take with them as they rush off to class after a practice.
"It's really letting us provide snacks at any time during the day," said Trausch. "It lets us give the athletes something to take to class whether that's a trail mix or a chocolate milk. I try to make sure every sport has something available to them at their location. Student-athletes work out all over campus, so making sure they have things available to take to class and have the fuel they need before a workout is important. Then, when they have time, they can come over to the Performance Table and have the proper tools to fuel themselves so they can fully recover."
Not only does K-State Athletics have the opportunity to provide food more often with the NCAA rule change, but it also has the opportunity to provide better options more often.
Trausch explained that on a two-a-day schedule for K-State football during its fall camp, the players' food intake should be anywhere from 4,000 to 6,000 calories. That's a lot of food, and Trausch said with the help of K-State Athletics' Executive Chef Mike Moyes, every day there are new, exciting and healthy menu and snack options for the players to choose from.
Like pickles and watermelon.
"I sit down with the coaches and make sure that they're okay with everything I want to implement," explained Trausch. "Every day after football fall practices, we're doing pickles and watermelon - that's something they've never done. But Coach (Bill) Snyder, he's been very supportive of letting me really help the guys and put the necessary fuel back in their bodies. He's putting them through a lot down there and he knows they can go through that because of what we provide."
Trausch explained the combination of pickles and watermelon after a hot practice provides the players the opportunity to rehydrate and replace electrolytes - plus, the players love it.
"It's really good," laughed senior quarterback Jake Waters. "It's a nice little snack and reward after a tough practice, but it's also helpful too. He has these little Gatorade bottles of pickle juice for people who sweat a lot. It's just really neat."
And guys like sophomore wide receiver Deante Burton, who Trausch explained gets dehydrated quickly, takes full advantage of the pickle juice.
"I love it! I can drink a whole gallon of it," exclaimed Burton.
"The principle behind the cold watermelon and cold pickles is we're trying to bring the body temperature down with how hot it is out there every day," explained Trausch about the post-practice snack. "But it's also another way to replace sodium and help them hydrate. Watermelon is mainly water, so while they're eating it I know they're replenishing themselves."
Though Trausch is busy now with K-State football's fall camp, he worked with other teams over the summer developing a culture of education and showing the student-athletes what they can do at home so they have energy every time they perform.
He teaches student-athletes how to read food labels and create a balanced grocery cart so, when on their own, they know how to make the most of their food intake.
Over the summer, Trausch took various teams shopping and taught them to create the 'perfect shopping cart.'
"Our grocery store tours really teach them a lot," explained Trausch. "They have a budget, so we show them how to maximize that budget. We teach them the misconceptions of a grocery store, how to navigate it, but most importantly, now they can go back by themselves. They know how to read a label. They know what things to look for."
Heading into the 2014-15 academic year, each of the 450 student-athletes at K-State has not only the opportunity to possess the knowledge of eating correctly, but also the snacks available to do so.
"I think it's been a huge help," Waters said. "We didn't really know what foods we needed after a practice, which foods have the proper carbs, proteins, and (Scott Trausch), he knows that. He helps us get the right stuff back in our bodies. I've noticed a difference and I've gained good weight. I think everyone enjoys it."
Every day Trausch works to provide K-State student-athletes with the best opportunities to refuel, rehydrate and replenish.
"The biggest thing is that we're really taking (K-State athletics director) John Currie's vision of a world-class student-athlete and implementing what our mission and what our goal is of letting the student-athletes be able to do what they do on a daily basis by recovering properly, fueling properly and giving them something they've never had before," concluded Trausch. "John Currie has helped a lot. He's been in my corner helping us get this going with the new NCAA rule, and we've helped the student-athletes get more. Overall, it's been a fun year."
The student-athletes' opportunity to recover with proper food is better than ever before, and running home to grab a Zebra Cake after a practice is now a thing of the past.