By Lauren Hooie
Watson Field House stays busy all day. Workouts are constantly happening, but a snack bar keeps Auburn athletes visiting frequently.
From 6 a.m. until 10 p.m. athletes pick up free snacks before, during and after practice.
“The best part is the free smoothies. I get two almost everyday,” freshman track thrower Erik Ebel said.
Sparked by comments by University of Connecticut basketball player Shabazz Napier at the 2014 Final Four regarding limitations on food provided to student-athletes, the NCAA changed rules about how universities could feed athletes. The legislation change now allows student-athletes to receive unlimited meals and snacks. The Watson Nutrition Station began shortly after.
It takes 30 to 40 people to run the snack bar every day, many of them unpaid volunteers.
“My favorite part of the job is interacting with the athletes, other students in dietetics and all the sports dietitians,” senior volunteer and nutrition-dietetics major Sarah Fritz said. “I have many networking opportunities for my major and job.”
Lauren Silvio, Auburn Athletics’ Director of Nutrition, oversees the sports nutrition department. She and Stephanie Kolloff-O’Neill are sports dietitians and are assisted by three graduate dietitians.
“We get with the teams and talk with them about what each of their needs are and do that with all the teams to make sure they’re covered,” Silvio said. “It’s dependent upon the size of the athlete, what sport they’re playing and how much they’re exercising that day that leads to what they should be getting.”
The dietitians at the fueling station are not just focusing on keeping athletes healthy while at Auburn.
“The education part is really big,” Silvio said. “We want them to be successful here but also want them to feel like they have the tools and knowledge when they leave to be able to go out on their own and make the right choices with their diet, whether they’re an athlete or not. We want to help them be successful in their career and the real world.”
To many people’s surprise, football players are not the athletes that visit the most.
“Track and swimming actually eat a lot,” graduate student Simone Weingarten said. “The dietitians help make a plan for them so they know what to order.”
The fueling bar’s most popular items on the menu are smoothies and sandwiches.
“I love being able to come after class and not have to go home to get a good snack before my workout,” junior track and field sprinter Katie Brookes Bones said.
“My favorite part of the job is getting to interact with the athletes and see what they eat before and after practice,” graduate student Rae Leach said. “We are able to make our greatest impact when the athletes ask us questions and we get to be helpful.”
The nutrition station will improve its assistance when it employs a card swipe process this semester so they can track what the athletes are eating and how much they’re eating.