Brown, who became the first full-time athletics nutritionist at WSU when she was hired in August 2011, has an expanded role this year. The glitzy new Football Operations Building includes a huge cafeteria and a spectacular weight room with a “re-fueling station” stocked with food and drinks.
A similar station will be offered in the Bohler Gymnasium Addition weight room, which is still used by non-football players. On Friday, new NCAA rules kick in that permit walk-ons and partial-scholarship athletes to eat meals free of charge, just like full-scholarship athletes.
More types of food can be offered, too. Lest we forget, Friday marks the first day the NCAA will drop its guard so far as to permit – brace for it – cream cheese on bagels.
My oh my, how things have changed since Brown arrived at WSU. When she was hired, Brown says she was one of just 28 full-time nutritionists serving NCAA athletic departments.
She says that total has since doubled, partly because of the NCAA meal changes and the resulting need to keep up with rival schools in terms of taking care of current athletes and attracting recruits.
Brown’s motto – Fuel-Train-Dominate – is literally spelled out on the walls where WSU athletes fuel their bodies. Brown applies her motto daily thanks to the direction of athletic director Bill Moos.
“He definitely has a great vision of what he wants Cougar athletics to be, and nutrition is a huge role player in that,” Brown said. “He understands that in order for athletes to reach their peak performance, they have to fuel their bodies right.”
Since coming to WSU, Brown says she has worked diligently to improve the quality and number of dietary supplements available to athletes. However, she’s excited about the NCAA rule changes that permit the serving of “real food products” that can replace some supplements.
“We have a supplement review committee so we make sure any of the supplements that we do provide are safe to consume,” Brown said. “Supplements are a very scary industry.”
Brown, an Oklahoma native who earned a master’s degree in nutritional sciences from Oklahoma State, says the NCAA has yet to rule whether free meals can be provided during summer semester. Washington State will continue to charge non-full-scholarship athletes for dinners for at least the upcoming semester, Brown says, to see where things stand financially.
Overall, WSU athletes figure to be fed and hydrated like never before.
Theoretically, that will lead to better training, which will result in more success in competition.
“You want to make sure their foundation is strong with proper nutrition, rest and recovery,” Brown says. “Then they’ll be able to train at a higher capacity.”
Caloric intake, foods and supplements are adjusted during the year, since heavier weight training takes place out of season. More muscle fiber breaks down during training, which leads to more inflammation. The re-fueling stations are stocked with smoothies, Greek yogurt, granola, vegetables and more.
“Gosh they’re spoiled!” Brown says with a laugh.
WSU Motto: Fuel, Train, Dominate
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