"We realized the importance of sports nutrition with their overall performance," said Dr. Lisa Herzig, Fresno State's Dietetics and Food Administration Director. "We came together in a collaborative way to be able to decide yes, we want to be able to provide nutrition for them."
Dr. Herzig, along with the Fresno State athletic department, developed the "Bulldogs in the Kitchen" program four years ago. She saw the mixture of Division I athletes, and her senior dietetics majors, as two peas in a pod.
"Not only did they learn the individual gems of cooking skills on an individual basis, but what it really helped is the whole team building concept," said Dr. Herzig.
"It's fun to cook with your teammates," said Fresno State lacrosse player Kara Concheck. I definitely pay attention to what I eat and I know all of my teammates do too."
And the players are eating it up, figuratively and literally. They know a careful eye on what they consume can have a positive impact in the classroom, and even on the playing field.
"It's important to learn about what's good to put in your body, what's good to eat before you work out, what's good to eat after you work out," said Concheck. "[It's] fuel before competition, to fuel when you're in the weight room." 13:47
Dr. Herzig's class has grown in popularity over the years, with seven sessions this semester attracting more than 125 Bulldogs. Fresno State swimmer Rayanne Nguyen is in her second year, and took on a leadership role this semester.
"I see first-hand they don't always pay attention to nutrition and the importance of it," said Nguyen, a Bulldogs in the Kitchen Co-Coordinator. "This gives me the chance to work not only in my major, but also my networking skills with student athletes and stuff like that."
Because no one knows better than her that eating right is the first step to getting the best out of her fellow Bulldogs.
"It can kind of light a fire a little bit in them to want to start eating healthy and I think they'll use some of the skills," said Nguyen.
"When you have a team that works together, thinks together, cooks together, it really helps them to create that bond and that trust," added Dr. Herzig.