Christine Turpin works as the sports dietitian for Towson University athletics and said the newly opened Tiger Fuel Zone serves as a concession stand with "not-so-concession" items.
The Tiger Fuel Zone, which opened at the start of the fall semester on the second floor of the Towson Center and operates from 9 a.m.-11 a.m. Monday-Thursday, features free drinks and snacks for student-athletes coming to or leaving practice, or even if they just want to grab a quick bite.
Turpin said the Tiger Fuel Zone has started well, with 200-250 students coming through weekly. In fact, opening it for more hours will likely be considered, and that's just fine with Turpin.
Turpin is in her fourth year in the part-time position at Towson and also runs a private practice in Annapolis, Md. The first person to hold this job at Towson, Turpin brought a five-year plan when she started. Opening the Tiger Fuel Zone was set to happen in the fourth year, so she's right on schedule. Turpin's main job is working with student-athletes to educate them about nutrition.
To do this, Turpin uses a variety of methods. She conducts nutrition workshops with teams, takes them into the dining hall -- often showing them the ways to create "better plates"-- and goes to grocery stores to give them ideas on better things to eat. A former college athlete herself -- she was a member of Bloomsburg University's 1993 NCAA Division II national championship field hockey team and an All-American in 1994 -- Turpin understands firsthand the importance of this information.
"We've accomplished a lot," Turpin said. "We'll continue to work with the coaches and sports teams, creating relationships. We're doing a lot with nutrition education here. We just want to help them eat better."
Turpin also uses social media to get her message to Towson athletes. Her Twitter handle
features tweets about the new Tiger Fuel Zone as well as a variety of tips on healthy eating.
Turpin has two degrees, one in kinesiology and the other in dietetics. When the Towson position opened up, Turpin knew it would be a good fit for her.
"It's exactly what I was looking for, educating the athletes, nutrition education," she said. "And creating a program from the ground up was just great."
The Tiger Fuel Zone is simply the latest step in her plan to educate student-athletes on the correct items to eat and drink. For example, Turpin said if athletes are coming by pre-practice, she recommends quick carbohydrates -- foods that turn into energy fast such as granolas, Gatorade Chews, applesauce, energy waffles, fresh fruits and more.
For after practice, Turpin recommends a carbohydrate and a protein -- something such as chocolate milk, a Gatorade recovery shake or a drinkable yogurt, which has become very popular. For any-time snacks, soy milk, chocolate soy milk, cups of peanut butter, pretzels and goldfish are available. She's always encouraging protein and carbohydrates.
Turpin is often at the Tiger Fuel Zone when it's open, working with volunteers. She also takes care of the football team's pre-game snacks and works with the other Towson teams, especially if they're on the road, by creating healthy snack bags and reviewing the menu of the place the teams will be eating at to help make a high-performance food selection.
Turpin hopes the student-athletes can take the lessons learned about eating well and apply them long after their playing days at Towson are finished.
Issue 238: October 2017
Originally published Oct. 16, 2017