Tennis Team Eats to Compete

Published: Nov 8, 2013
Loran Lane, center, is a sports nutritionist based in Bradenton who has worked with professional athletes, such as the Dallas Cowboys.
Loran Lane, center, is a sports nutritionist based in Bradenton who has worked with professional athletes, such as the Dallas Cowboys.

Standing in the middle of Vaughn’s Ultimate Dining buffet, the UT women’s tennis team is asking a slew of questions. They aren’t grilling the Sodexho staff though. It’s dietician Loran Lane who’s got their attention.

The four-week Eat to Compete program is meant to give the tennis team a better perspective when it comes to fueling their bodies.

“Whether it’s athletics or everyday life, you’ll perform better mentally and physically if you eat the right food,” said Al DuFaux, head tennis coach. “You have to fuel your body the right way to compete in the classroom and on the tennis court.”

The program was sparked by a connection with Mary Martinasek, assistant professor of public health, who put DuFaux in touch with Lane, a sports nutritionist based in Bradenton who has worked with professional athletes, such as the Dallas Cowboys.

Martinasek, who is interested in nutrition, serves as a faculty liaison and will help with quantitative analysis when the program finishes. DuFaux said they’d eventually like to open the program up to all student athletes.

The program meets from 4 to 5:30 p.m. on Friday afternoons, not typically a time when students are highly focused on studying.

“I didn’t want this to be another class,” DuFaux said. “It’s two-way communication with the girls. There is no 19 year old that wants to take another course on a Friday afternoon.”

And so it isn’t. The students have taken a tour of the campus dining options, getting recommendations for healthy options. They’ll compete in a myth buster challenge and will hear from two registered dietitians at a local Publix on how to eat healthy on a budget, how to read a nutrition label and how to strategically shop at a grocery store.

“Without the proper nutrition and hydration, they are not able to get the energy they need to perform,” said Lane, noting the importance of getting fats, carbohydrates and protein in at every meal.

“The program has taught me that my food intake doesn't have to be perfect, but I don't have to be a freak about it either,” said Katherine Pyne ’14, a communication major, who has learned that fats don’t have to be the enemy.

Several of the students have emailed Lane to get further information and continue the discussion, which Lane said is a great sign of their motivation and thirst for this information.

“I know most of us in the team do not know how to fuel our body properly before and after a match, and this is crucial for our performance on court,” said Meg Wladimirski ’15, a finance major. “By eating right I know I will be able to sleep more, relax and focus more which will also impact my academic performance here at UT.”

Lauren Hewett ’14, an environmental science major, said she has been pleasantly surprised by the program, picking up suggestions on what to order at restaurants and learning the science behind nutrition. She also has found comfort in Lane’s insistence to indulge on occasion. For Hewett, it’s paying off in her performance already.

“On court, I feel like I have more energy, and I am not as tired at the end of practice,” she said. “I have also found it easier to study, and I feel more engaged in class.

“Small changes in diet can make a huge impact on court,” Hewett said, “and I am really excited to see the long-term benefits from this program.”

Have a story idea? Contact Jamie Pilarczyk, Web Writer 
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