Without registered dietitian on staff, WSU athletics limited to providing nutritional guidelines for student-athletes

Andrew Smith, Sports Editor
April 16, 2014
Filed under Sports

When Wright State athletes seeks nutritional advice, strength and conditioning coach Jason Bradford can only offer them suggestions and not clear-cut advice.

“The biggest issue is, we’re strength and conditioning coaches. Our background isn’t necessarily nutrition. The NCAA also doesn’t allow us to sit down with an athlete and schedule-out a whole meal plan. Only registered dietitians can do that. We can only give guidelines – we can’t come up with a meal plan for an athlete,” Bradford said.

WSU does not employ a full-time dietitian and instead uses Leslie Edmunds, a self-employed registered dietitian from Springfield, Ohio.

“In a perfect scenario, we would have someone full time on staff, but that’s a huge pay position. It would take one person and maybe a bunch of student workers or interns, because you have a ton of athletes and a ton of nutritional needs for them,” Bradford said.

Edmunds graduated from WSU with a master of public health degree in 2010. She is a member of the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Dayton Dietetic Association.

Edmunds said she visits WSU once a month for a two-hour block of time and is also summoned on an as needed basis. Due to the infrequency of her visits, Edmunds said she often has difficulty accommodating different athlete’s schedules throughout the week.

“I’m only there for two hours a month to see hundreds of athletes. It’s the same time every month, so I have athletes that can’t make it because they have class or practice during that two-hour block,” Edmunds said.

Like Bradford, Edmunds said she agrees that the athletes she has consulted at WSU are not getting enough to eat – a problem that is compounded by the lack of hands-on attention she is able to give to student-athletes.

“Most athletes that I’m talking to need to be eating more,” Edmunds said. “A lot of them are skipping meals because they’re in between classes or they forget to take something. They’re very busy, but I would say 90 percent of the athletes I am talking to are not eating enough or are not eating the right things.”

The Guardian surveyed all nine universities in the Horizon League to see if any school employed a full-time nutritionist or dietitian. Including WSU, Green Bay, Valparaiso, Illinois-Chicago, Oakland and Detroit do not have a full-time dietitian or nutritionist on staff.

Youngstown State, Cleveland State and Milwaukee did not respond to The Guardian’s inquiry.

But it is a different situation in Columbus.

Dan Wallenberg, assistant athletics director for communications at Ohio State, said OSU employees three registered dietitians, two of which are interns, and added the nutritionists meet with athletes on an “as needed” basis.

Bradford said, in an ideal situation, he would want WSU to have a full-time nutritionist on staff to help counsel athletes about healthy eating habits on a weekly basis. He added he would like to see WSU set up a buffet-style cafeteria that can be tailored to fit athlete’s nutritional needs.

“If I can give an athlete a picture of a plate and say, ‘Hey, this percentage of the pie needs to be this, this and this,’ it’s a lot easier for them to look down at that plate and say,’ Hey, yeah, here it is,’ as opposed to putting in a burrito bowl where it’s all mixed together and then they have no clue how much rice they’re getting or how much protein or beans,” Bradford said.

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