Jul 13, 2018
Nutrition Education
Craig Castor

At Allegheny Health Network (AHN), our sports medicine staff works with athletes at all levels — we are the official medical provider for the Pittsburgh Pirates, the United States Soccer League’s Pittsburgh Riverhounds, NCAA Division II Gannon University, the Community College of Allegheny County, and 18 Pittsburgh-area high schools. For years, we observed how our collegiate and professional affiliates educated their athletes about nutrition to empower them to reach their potential. This got us wondering: What if we could do the same with our high school athletes?

To explore this possibility, we started looking for a partner. We found one in Come Ready™ Nutrition, a Pittsburgh-based manufacturer of sports nutrition products founded by former University of Pittsburgh basketball player Pat Cavanaugh, and solidified our collaboration in spring 2015. Together, we set a simple but ambitious goal: to provide thousands of high school athletes with a one-of-a-kind program that would develop their minds and bodies.

Before long, we came up with a comprehensive, multidisciplinary framework for the initiative, which became known as the AHN Mobile Training Table®. To target sports nutrition, we would utilize Come Ready’s staff of registered dietitians. And because we wanted the program to target overall athletic achievement, it would also include presentations on goal building and concussion education.

Today, the program is up and running in all of our high schools. It offers group talks throughout the year on nutrition, goal-setting, and concussions, and we provide fueling stations in each school where athletes can access nutritious snacks and targeted health information.

the AHN Mobile Training Table consists of three-part programming that is presented at meetings throughout the year to our 18 affiliated high schools. Participants include athletes from fall, winter, and spring sports, as well as their families.

During the summer, we schedule meetings around teams’ conditioning schedules. Once school starts, we hold the sessions before or after practice. Whenever possible, we utilize each team’s preseason and offseason for the presentations. This often works better for the teams anyway, as the athletes are more relaxed, and the coaches are more willing to dedicate time for the seminars.

Each meeting features presentations on the Come Ready philosophy of sports nutrition, goal attainment, and AHN Sports Medicine’s proprietary concussion management protocol. Regarding sports nutrition, dietitians from Come Ready offer comprehensive counseling on diet and sports performance, ideal meal plans for athletes, and recipes for sports performance eating. There are a total of six Come Ready dietitians, and they each work with three high schools. This is important because when athletes see the same dietitian for their educational presentations, they get more comfortable with them over time and begin asking more insightful questions.

The primary message of the nutrition seminars is that athletes are more likely to perform well when they feel great and are fueled. The sessions have the following titles:

• Don’t Be Sweet on Sugar

• Hydrate to Be Great

• Go Green and Clean

• Energize Your Efforts — Eating to Win with Protein, Carbs, and Good Fats

• Making a Great Plate

• Don’t Snooze on Sleep

• Coming Ready — Tips on Training

• Training Day/Game Day/Recovery Day Nutrition Schedules.

“This was our opportunity to bring the sports nutrition expertise and knowledge that is so important to athletic performance directly to varsity and youth athletes,” says Cavanaugh, who now serves as President of Come Ready Nutrition. “We wanted to make them aware that they can fuel their bodies like professional athletes so they have a greater chance to achieve their athletic goals.”

Craig Castor, LAT, ATC, is an Athletic Trainer and Sports Medicine Supervisor at Allegheny Health Network based in Pittsburgh.

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