UCF football collaborated with the College of Medicine for their fifth session of nutritional counseling on Monday afternoon.
This was the first session open to media, and the team has three more sessions remaining this summer. Director of Football Operations Gerrod Lambrecht is hopeful that the sessions will continue into the season. The program's long-term goal is to have sports dietitians on staff.
“Right now, football is looking for stop-gap measures,” Lambrecht said. “This collaboration with the med school is just one part of that stop-gap, and we’ll be moving toward modified training tables this fall with the football team … until the permanent solutions are put in place.”
Thirty medical students from UCF’s College of Medicine at Lake Nona volunteered to take part in the nutritional program.
“These players are in peak performance, they are so dedicated,” said Michael Buchko, a second year medical student. “I think we’re here to kind of debunk some myths and improve the quality of their training, and I think they’ve been very receptive.”
The players have bought into the revamped nutritional program. The majority of the them gathered around in the recruiting lounge on the south side of Bright House Networks Stadium to discuss nutrition with the medical students who gave them advice on what and when to eat.
“Our body is our temple,” said returning redshirt senior linebacker Errol Clarke, from Miami. “That’s how we’re going to be able to make our plays and how we move so fast — UCF fast. So taking care of our body is a tremendous part of the whole process in being able to go out there and accomplish all the things we want to do.”
After an 0-12 season, head coach Scott Frost has implanted the “UCFast system,” and the players are hungry to unveil their hard work this upcoming season.
“I’m getting stronger, getting leaner and faster,” said returning redshirt junior linebacker Chequan Burkett, from Montgomery, Alabama. “Especially faster, I know I became faster. Just pushing each other every day and make sure everyone is eating right.”
Lambrecht said the new coaching staff recognized early on that there were deficiencies in the nutritional program.
“We're just so lucky that there was a resource here locally that we were able to tap into to help provide some of this education to the guys,” Lambrecht said.
Lambrecht got in contact with the dean of the College of Medicine, Deborah German, who brought on Magdalena Pasarica, an associate professor of medicine at UCF. Pasarica then became the faculty adviser for the nutritional program.
“I’m always interested in lifestyle,” Pasarica said. “I’m always interested in nutrition. I teach them, and I think it’s an important concept to teach and important for patients. The student-athletes could gain from learning from us about lifestyle and about nutrition.”
At the end of the summer, Lambrecht will meet with Pasarica to discuss how the sessions went and how to advance the collaboration with the med school.
“Lifestyle changes, they require constant reinforcement,” Pasarica said. “You need constant personalize help for each individual.”
Jean Racine is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Follow him on twitter at @jeangracine or email him at JeanR@CentralFloridaFuture.com