February 22, 2024

On Your Mark, Get Set, Chop!: Food-Network Inspired Cooking Competition Fires-up 24 WCU Student Athletes

West Chester University (WCU) student-athletes from the women’s lacrosse team are pictured in the Food Lab enjoying a healthy cooking demonstration presented recently by the Student-Athlete Sports Nutrition Education and Fueling Program.The heat will be officially on in West Chester University’s (WCU) high-tech Food Lab when six teams of WCU athletes will be served a mystery box of ingredients along with the challenge to flex their culinary skills as they make a delicious meal in just 30-minutes; a total of 24 student athletes will compete. The catch (of the day)? All creations must be nutritious. A special panel of VIP judges will determine the winning dish based on creativity, taste and presentation. Coordinated by the Student Athlete Success (SAS) program and the Sports Nutrition Education and Fueling Program, the 1st “Chopped: Get Your Cooking On” Competition will be held on March 4 at 6:00 p.m. in the Sciences and Engineering Center & The Commons, Food Lab (Room #201), located at 155 University Avenue, West Chester. The event, which is based on the Food Networks’ popular reality-based television series featuring dueling chefs, is open to the pubic free of charge.

In addition to whipping-up a winning meal, “Chopped: Get Your Cooking On” is also designed to teach the University’s student-athletes that a healthy, balanced diet is essential to achieving high performance — on the field and in the classroom.

“Every semester, those in my Student-Athlete Sports Nutrition Education and Fueling Program do a few cooking demonstrations for our University’s athletes and we decided to kick it up a level this year with a “Chopped-like” competition,” says Chair of the Nutrition Department and Professor of Nutrition Christine Karpinski.

It’s easy to see why the program is so popular among WCU student-athletes; it incorporates everything that they need to be successful — even “fueling stations.” Each semester, “fueling stations” are staffed by sports nutrition majors who distribute healthy snacks to more than 400 student-athletes at practices, games and/or in locker rooms. The fueling stations provide heathy snacks at key times during the day. A typical fueling station may include fruit, vegetables, trail mix, whole-grain snack chips, pretzels, popcorn, cheese sticks, yogurt, and chocolate milk. The fueling stations are managed by graduate assistants and provide experiential opportunities for undergraduate students and dietetic interns to work with the student-athletes.

While it would cost nearly $75,000 to establish a more centralized fueling station for all in-season student-athletes, the Student-Athlete Sports Nutrition Education and Fueling Program depends on generous donations to provide the healthy snacks that the University’s student-athletes depend upon. The much-needed program is grateful to its longstanding partners — Aramark, Enterprise Holdings, First Bank, and the WCU Alumni Association.

From team talks about nutrition to grocery store tours to Bod Pod testing/interpretation to one-on-one nutrition coaching and literally everything in between, the University’s Sports Nutrition Program provides a food first, evidence-based approach to guide WCU’s student-athletes in making healthy decisions on an every-day basis.

“The University’s Sports Nutrition Program works actively and creatively with WCU student-athletes throughout the year to help them make healthy food choices that will ultimately fuel them properly for their sport as well as their lives,” says Karpinski.


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