Underwood Presents, Encourages Students with ‘Life on an Athlete’

Nick Vitale, Reporter

Former NCAA All-American international distance runner John Underwood visited campus Sept. 29 to talk to student athletes about how drugs and alcohol and basic lifestyle habits affect an athlete’s ability to perform.

Underwood connected with students on a personal level and helped them understand the danger of drugs and alcohol for athletes.

Underwood is also a coach and advisor to more than two dozen Olympians. He travels the country presenting his “Life of an Athlete” presentation, which is used by hundreds of middle schools, high schools and NCAA institutions. The NFL, NHL, NBA, Sport Cana- da and the United States Military have also used this program.

Women’s head soccer coach Mark Stauffer said information was useful and up-to-date.

“It was good getting just the top- of-the-line stuff that they’re just figuring out over the course of the last couple years, and it was nice not only finding out what they’re doing for recovery and sleep but how to go about it,” said Stauffer.

Underwood talked extensively about the importance of sleep for recovery after practices and workouts.

“He was able to give direct correlation to put it into the framework of our own teams to determine whether or not we are doing things right or if we need to open our eyes a little bit,” said Stauffer.

Teegan French, left guard for the football team, was one of the athletes who attended the presentation.

“It was interesting. [Underwood] was very humble,” said French. “He said he did not really care what group he was talking to whether it was DIII or DI. He wanted to get his word out to everyone because we all deserve the knowledge.”

Many athletes said the information did not change their views about drugs and alcohol.

“Our kids have already been preached to about all that stuff,” said Stauffer. [The women’s soccer team] had a dry season when they’re not even allowed to be around alcohol throughout the entire season anyway. We do not have to worry about the recovery time because we do not drink any alcohol, period. I think the drug and alcohol stuff was just pieces we have known for years. Again, it was just confirming what we already knew.”

Stauffer said his teams learned the most from the sleep and recovery aspects of the presentation.

“We focused on sleep patterns. He gave direct correlation between DI programs that have done tests where their student athletes all sleep at the same times and get the right amounts of sleep and how many records they were breaking during those weeks,”said Stauffer. “Then they did two- week periods where their athletes stayed up studying late and slept whenever they wanted to sleep, and those teams did not break any records during those weeks, and that was the only thing that changed was the sleep.”

Stauffer said information about recovery was one of the most interesting topics because his teams play in national tournaments, and that requires a lot of work in a short period of time.

“When we get to national tournament time it is played in weekend blocks. If you win on Saturday, you stick around and you play again on Sunday,” said Stauffer. “We are trying to recover and play a full 90-minute game

in less than 24 hours. Some of the recovery stuff he spoke about directly pertained to us in those situations.”

Underwood stressed the importance of protein for recovery – particularly within five minutes after a workout.

“[Underwood] showed that there is a big difference between getting that protein in your system five minutes after your workout and an hour after your workout,” said Stauffer. “The difference was 30% of recovery within 24 hours. That could be a difference between wins and losses for any college team.”

“I didn’t know the time span on getting protein in to your body. I did not realize that you have to get protein in your body right after your workout. I did not realize how much of a difference it made,” said French.

Stauffer and French said Underwood was one of the most educational speakers they have heard.

“He kept it real to the individual,” French said. “He was giving you knowledge. Instead of lecturing us, he educated us on the consequences of drugs and alcohol and how they can affect our performance as athletes.”

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