Diets among USI athletes vary

Zane Clodfelter

While everyone enjoys the food and delicacies at the Fall Festival next week on Franklin Street in Evansville, Southern Indiana athletes will be looking to maintain their focus. Focus not only on the field, but on their dinner as plate as well.

Athletes of various sports deal with the importance of eating healthy food every day, and constant monitoring and self-discipline is key for Eagles athletes to keep their bodies in top-performing shape.

USI Head Athletic Trainer Luke Steele said the key for student-athletes is to avoid the pressures of eating processed foods.

“The big push now is clean eating,” Steele said. “The biggest push is to stay away from processed foods.”

Despite the lack of dietary restrictions in place, Steele talks with athletes on campus regularly. Conversations about eating habits are among the talking points.

“We don’t have a specific (eating) plan,” Steele said. “We make sure they are filling their bodies with good food.”

Sophomore soccer infielder Leslie Schapker monitors her processed food intake throughout the women’s soccer schedule in the fall.

“For me, it’s consistent,” Schapker said. “Our coaches encourage us to be smart about it.”

Senior goalkeeper Jeff Neidlinger said that keeping healthy eating habits is easier when he and his teammates travel for road matches with the coaching staff.

“On the road, coach helps out and leads us in the right direction,” Neidlinger said. “It’s more structured on the road.”

Neidlinger said that team meals a day before the scheduled match are usually centered on pasta and chicken. These meals, Steele said, provide a high amount of carbohydrates and help provide healthy energy to athletes the next day.

With the amount of energy expended by athletes on the field, healthy diets need to consist of carbs to replenish that energy, according to Steele.

“Sixty percent of their diet should be an efficient source of energy,” he said.

Difficulties on the road, and tight budgets, can sometimes force athletes to skew away from their dietary plans according to Steele, with fast-food, at times, being the only option. However, Schapker said women’s coach Krissy Engelbrecht advises that she and teammates stay away from fried foods, even when on the road.

Schapker feels her healthy-eating diet is more controllable when on campus, and notes differences compared to her high school playing days at Castle in nearby Paradise, Ind., when she didn’t have to worry about fatty-food intake.

“In college, I have to plan what I eat,” Schapker said. “When I was at home, I just ate what was for dinner.”

The key for Neidlinger when monitoring eating habits is to stay in control and do what it best for himself.

“I know my body,” Neidlinger said. “I know what I should eat and what I should stay away from.”