The Cash Family Sports Nutrition Center, which opened in 2020, provides student athletes opportunities to be successful before they enter game day. 

The director of sports nutrition, Dayna McCutchin, said athletes of all sports go through intense physical training and activity that can cause a major toll on the body. McCutchin does a lot of work with the strength and conditioning staff to help athletes recover and adapt to training.

“Everything we do on a nutritional side is just trying to build up and have anabolic effect on the body,” McCutchin said. “Working alongside our strength and conditioning staff to help make sure we are helping our athletes recover to the very best that we can. This can help mitigate injury and help them try and perform at 100 percent.”

McCutchin started her position in 2013 and became Tech’s first sports dietitian. McCutchin said the sports nutrition team manages fueling stations and oversees training table menus where athletes can optimize their individual pre-game and post-game meals. 

“Each athlete has different nutritional needs, depending on whether they have any individual body composition goals,” McCutchin said. “Some athletes, when they get here, need to develop and put on a lot of lean body mass, or some need to increase lean body mass, so we work with them individually on how to do that.”

Byron Waters, unit manager for Tech’s training table, said it is the nutritionist’s job to work with the student athletes on what they need to be eating, and it is their job at the training table to provide those items. Waters works alongside McCutchin to create menus that provide a variety of items to all athletes. 

“We have all different kinds of students,” Waters said. “Students who need to gain weight, students who need to lose weight and we have all kind of different food allergies. So, what we try to accomplish here is offer a variety of items that all athletes will be able to eat. They should have no problem coming in and finding an item that they want to eat, number one, and that they can eat, number two.”

The Student Training Table is located at the Cash Family Sports Nutrition Center. There, athletes come in and work with nutritionists to help create their ideal meal that will recharge them and help them be the best they can come game time, Waters said.  

“The kids perform to their peak when they’re fueling the tank properly,” Water said. “We buy only lean meats, we don’t provide any processed foods, everything we make is fresh. Fresh hamburgers, fresh fish, six to eight different fruits, we offer a salad bar with 24 items. I think product specification is a very important part of athletes’ success and that’s what we do at the training table.”

The nutritionist and training tables are not just to provide athletes with their specific meal plan, but to also educate them on the means of production and food choice so they can carry on what they learn here and apply it to their eating habits at home and later in life, Waters said. 

“Dayna does a great job educating student athletes on what they should be eating from the time they come on campus,” Waters said. “We have a demonstration kitchen, the chef in there will hold classes teaching kids how to prepare foods and their meals at home.  They actually prepare foods; they learn how to handle their knife and how to do a skillet. We have all the tools here to help them succeed.”

Grant Stovall, senior associate athletics director for Student-Athlete Health & Wellness, said students can only benefit from having a professional dietitian, like McCutchin, to guide them in taking the next step in performance, recovery and proper eating habits.  

“...Getting our student athletes to understand the importance of nutrition, the difference between good nutrition and bad nutrition,” Stovall said. “So it’s very important to have a dietician to manage those athetes through that process.”

Stovall said athletic directors, nutritionists and coaches work hard to make sure athletes are getting the best accommodations and care, so they perform at their best. Nutrition plays a crucial role in that success.

“It’s huge from a performance and then also a recovery standpoint,” Stovall said. “If you have the right gas in the tank, then you’re going to perform at your optimal level. At the same time, from a post-workout post-performance standpoint, you got to recover, and nutrition is a big part in that.”

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