Youth Sports and Nutrition...
Or Lack Thereof!
Earlier this summer, I reached out the amazing front office team of the Saint Louis Football Club (STL FC) and struck up a conversation about how Start Right could be involved with both their professional team and youth sports organization. Just this last week, those conversations evolved into a sponsorship agreement where Start Right became the official breakfast partners of STL FC! Along with a huge sense of excitement, I’ve also been overwhelmed with nostalgia.
I have such great memories from my days as a youth soccer player, from shaving my number (7 of course) into the back of my head en route to a Show-Me State Games victory to scoring 6 goals in a game! (Editor’s note – it was 8-year-old soccer). There were also some less than pleasant memories - such as waking up at 5am to drive an hour to play early morning indoor games on turf that was only marginally softer than concrete. Or those late November games in the snow where taking a rip from a nearly-frozen soccer ball directly to the quad would nearly put you on the injured reserve! Ugh…I still maintain that’s one of the worst pains I’ve ever experienced in my life!
But within all those memories, I couldn’t pick out anything that even remotely resembled fueling up for the game. In fact, all of my memories of food before or after games consist of sugary treats or fatty, greasy victory meals. I mean, let’s be real…at 10 years old, the real reason I was excited to play those 6:30am games at Delwood Indoor Soccer Arena were the strawberry slushies! Sooooo delicious.
Even as I “leveled up”, and started playing select soccer for a local club, there was no emphasis on nutrition. Gatorade and orange slices were there, for sure, but pre-game meals? Most likely I was crushing pop-tarts, donuts, or maybe the occasional PBJ. And that was before a 2 or 3 game tournament in the oppressive heat with hot dogs, nachos and hamburgers between games. I mean, it worked, but it wasn’t really the best way to promote peak performance!
It really wasn’t until college that I started realizing that the fuel I put in my body ultimately dictated how I would feel on game day, or in my case race day. The pop-tarts were replaced with protein bars and shakes. Post run/race meals were balanced with healthy carbs, fat, and extra protein to recover. Heck, I even used to eat an entire bowl of Kale at dinner to make sure I didn’t get anemic with all the miles I had to crank out! Lucky for me, all of the above-mentioned food choices were conveniently prepared for me in the Athletic Dining Hall and Training Room at Mizzou.
Fast-forward 5+ years, and my fitness routine is way less intense (Check out my past “comeback” blog for more details on setting goals and starting fresh). And while I’m certainly less active that my youthful self, I still make it a priority to eat a high-protein breakfast, as I know it’s a key factor in how I feel for the entire day. Trouble is, I no longer have the dining hall preparing meals at my beck and call. As you all know, that’s the true reason that I teamed up with Clint to found Start Right back in 2015. And now as our resources are increasing, we’re passionate about sharing that lesson with the youth sports organizations in our network.
Both Clint and I have maintained a connection to our athletic pasts as much as possible as Start Right has grown. Clint coaches his son in flag and tackle football, as well as the 8th grade team at Fox Middle School, and I’ve been the head coach of a youth track and cross country team, the St. Louis Blazers for the past three years. Both of us encourage our athletes and parents alike to be smarter about what they choose to put in their bodies as fuel, and always encourage a high-protein breakfast, no matter the source!
With our partnership with STL FC, we now have the opportunity to engage with St. Louis Scott Gallagher Youth Soccer Club and emphasize the importance of nutrition in the training regiments of young, emerging athletes. We are excited to introduce fans and families alike to Start Right’s convenient, high-protein breakfast options – the perfect fuel for an active lifestyle. Starting this summer, be on the lookout for Start Right logos at Soccer Park, on youth jerseys, and even a few Billboards around town!
So if you are the parent of a youth athlete, traveling to and from a menagerie of sporting events each weekend, take a second look at what’s fueling their performance. Protein is key, so finding convenient options such as protein bars, hard-boiled eggs, or even Start Right Waffles can really make a difference. I’m pretty sure that for every waffle you eat, you’ll score an extra goal, run 10 seconds faster, jump 6” higher, etc. And when you do, don’t forget to tell everyone that the super-powered waffles were the reason!