Nutritional Boost

December 18, 2018

The Ashland University athletic department has launched a new sports nutrition initiative with the development of a Sports Nutrition Counseling Center. The center, in conjunction with the University's Dietetics Program, will help student-athletes maximize their performance through nutrition. 

The Sports Nutrition Counseling Center is one of the first of its kind at the Division II level and will help AU student-athletes reach their peak performance. 


The program is spearheaded by David Vanata, Ph.D., RD, CSSD, Ashland's director of dietetics and sports nutrition.

"The development of the AU Sports Nutrition Counseling Center will provide services to our student-athletes that will enable them to improve and maximize their performance, as well as reach their full potential while attending Ashland University," Vanata said. "We have the three healthcare components – athletic trainers, strength and conditioning coaches, and nutrition professionals – necessary and available to enhance the success of our athletes and teams. By coordinating our efforts with a common goal of maximizing athletic performance, I believe we will continue to recruit and produce the best athletes."

"Our department is indebted to Dr. Vanata for his work on this program," said Ashland University director of athletics Al King. "He had the vision to put together a much-needed plan. The addition of this Sports Nutrition Program and Counseling Center puts Ashland University at a unique place among NCAA Division II institutions.

"This will provide another benefit for our student-athletes. It will help them in their chosen sport and emphasize the need for healthy living. Our student-athletes are going to work with some outstanding professors and mentors and I'm excited to get this up and running."

The Sports Nutrition Program and Counseling Center will include individualized nutrition counseling, which will help student-athletes in a variety of areas, including athletic performance, muscle recovery, injury prevention, fatigue and sleep, among other things.

The Dietetics Program will also present topics to teams and help instruct student-athletes how to eat on the road and in AU's student dining facilities.

"Our goals for this program and center are to assist student-athletes with making the adjustment to collegiate-level training and competition, prevent, reduce, and treat injuries, and maximize athletic potential while attending Ashland University through nutritional strategies designed for each individual athlete. We are also exploring screening all athletes for certain biomarkers that will enable us to reduce injuries and treat them preventatively. These screening efforts will require additional funding in order to be implemented. We are always trying to stay ahead of the curve."

Student-athletes will first complete forms to assess their personal eating and sleeping habits before working with Vanata and Denise Reed, M.S., RD, a clinical assistant professor at AU, to identify areas of their diets and lifestyles that can be adjusted for maximum performance in all aspects of their careers as student-athletes.

Vanata and Reed will work in partnership with Ashland's athletic training and strength and conditioning departments to oversee the program, which will begin immediately.

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