Part of my “volunteer” work here at Peak Performance is to train up and coming nutrition professionals in the science and application of clinical sports nutrition/dietetics. Each year a McGill University Dietetic intern is placed with me to get up to speed on the practice of sport nutrition. These interns also get me involved in their interests – a few years ago an intern and I worked with high altitude mountain climbers to determine optimal nutrient needs to help reduce risks of injury and cerebral/pulmonary edema. The experience involved some fascinating research of putting science into food-based practice for successful summits of the highest peaks in the world. Another intern just happened to be related to Lance Armstrong’s mechanics - so I got the inside scoop on the most famous of cycling machines!
Last week Tiffany, my McGill dietetic intern, started to work with me to implement the sport nutrition program for Carleton Ravens Women's Hockey Team. These are pretty exciting times to be involved with Carleton University Athletics as the organization is keen on introducing state of the art programs for their student athletes. For w omen's hockey things are even better - Carleton was successful in hiring the uber-dedicated and talented, former elite Canadian hockey player, Shelley Coolidge, to coach the w omen's hockey team. Shelley, the consummate professional, has recruited a top notch band of performance coaches to round out her program and Tiffany will be helping to build the sport nutrition for peak performance side of the equation for these women hockey players.
Here is Tiffany's feedback from day #1:
Riding the O-train into Carleton for the first time, I was as excited as a new student on the first day of classes. I was on my way to the Ice House to meet the Carleton Ravens women’s hockey team. My final dietetics internship revolved around my sports nutrition (community) rotation that would last 6 weeks. I had been anxiously awaiting to start this internship for several months. This season, with the full support of the athletics department and the encouragement of the coaching staff, Beth and I would be implementing a new sports nutrition program at Carleton with the girls to ensure that they would be eating and performing their best this season.
Wait! Let’s pause for a moment here. Maybe I haven’t emphasized just how exciting this really is. Normally most sports teams would be followed by an athletic therapist (yay therapists!) and maybe a strength and conditioning coach. If they are very lucky, they may get some advice on eating well from someone who might know a thing or two about nutrition (but still may not be specific for athletes). However, MY job as a sports nutrition intern for the next six weeks would be to educate the girls to not only eat well, but to eat enough, proper pre and post workout fueling, hydration status, assessing body composition, designing meal plans, planning grocery store tours...well, you get the idea. It is rare that a sports program will include ALL the necessary pieces to perform at the top so the fact that such a comprehensive program is being implemented is an amazing opportunity - for me AND the girls. Whew! Ok, back to my story.
As I finally entered the Ice House (wandering around the campus looking lost is soooo unbecoming of me!) there it was. That...feeling.
Yes! I belonged here!
I see Beth and we go in to meet Shelley and the team. Today is the first day, so I will be trying to figure out my schedule and get a feel for the dynamic of the team. I also meet Brigette - the team’s athletic therapist. She will be my eyes and ears when I am not around, I surmise. I decided to tag along for their cool down after the afternoon practice.
“Wow, I’m starving.” I hear one of the girls say. “I’m going to go to McDonalds after and...”
Hmmm. This is definitely going to be an interesting 6 weeks.